Pizza maker Luca Varuni, formerly of Antico Pizza Napoletana, is gearing up to open his own authentic Neapolitan pizza joint, Varuni-Napoli, in southwest Morningside this December. The eatery will be located at 1540 Monroe Drive in the building next door to Hobnob Neighborhood Tavern.
Originally from Naples, Varuni has spent the last 12 years in the American restaurant industry, working as a chef and maestro pizzaiolo (master pizza maker) in both Philadelphia and New York. He came to Atlanta four years ago to help Giovanni di Palma develop the now-famous Antico.
Varuni says that his commitment to authenticity will set Varuni-Napoli apart.
"After a decade in the American restaurant business, I realized that the Italian culinary culture in some case[s] is completely abused and the Neapolitan pizza it became a joke ... I felt culturally raped," Varuni says.
The chef has spent the last two years travelling between Naples and Atlanta in search of traditional equipment and "the best quality and most authentic product" Naples has to offer in order to create the most authentic Neapolitan dining experience possible.
Once it opens, Varuni-Napoli will serve traditional pies as well as Neopolitan-style street food in a "highly interactive, customer-friendly, and sophisticated atmosphere."
"Our mission is to educate people about the quality of our food. Everything will be made in front of our customers, where they will be able to ask questions and learn about different products," Varuni says.
Those Italian imports will be available for purchase in the pizzeria's shop, Luca's Market, when the restaurant opens.
"At the moment, our container full of goods is passing the Atlantic Ocean," Varuni says. For now, the chef hopes to open his "dream pizzeria" two weeks before Christmas.
NOTE: This post has been updated to clarify the restaurant's location.
Love pork belly.
Some food just doesn't photograph well, even if it is tasty.
Nothing wrong with grease on the walls if the burger is tasty.
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