A conscientious bystander noticed smoke coming from the restaurant located near the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive Sunday morning and was quick to alert the Atlanta Fire Department. The quick-to-respond firefighters entered the restaurant with water ready to fight the anticipated flames. Fortunately, and somewhat unfortunately, water was not necessary, as there was no fire.
Varuni Napoli's Italian-made tiled Stefano Ferrara ovens burn at 900 degrees and can emit smoke throughout the restaurant. What the bystander stall was just that, an every day occurrence. Naples born co-owner Luca Varuni assures us that those ovens (and their corresponding smoke) will be up and running soon after water damage can be cleaned up. Those famous Neapolitan pies will have to wait a few days, the amount of time they are expecting to be closed. Not the sort of one year anniversary a restaurant desires. Varuni first opened for business April 23, 2014.
1540 Monroe Drive N.E. 404-709-2690. www.varuni.us
Last week, we learned Calavino Donati and Doria Roberts, the duo behind East Atlanta's Urban Cannibals (477 Flat Shoals Ave.), are working to open three new ventures by summer’s end. One, their signature Urban Cannibals Bodega and Bites, will take over the former Cruzado space in Midtown at 368 5th St., while Latin American-Southern fusion concept Madre and Mason will move into the old Couscous spot at 560 Dutch Valley Road. Tipple and Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary will open next to Surin in Virginia-Highland — at 806 N. Highland Ave. — and will offer more than 100 teas along with breakfast, pastries, light lunch items, four versions of high tea service, and apothecary items like bitters and drinking vinegars.
Woodfire Grill will close next month at 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, following more than 13 years serving Atlanta foodies. Though it has not attracted a sufficient number of patrons in recent months to support the cost of business (says owner Nicolas Quinones), its kitchen has played host to an array of top culinary talents, among them Kevin Gillespie, Tyler Williams, and Matthew Weinstein. The final dinner service will be held on May 20.
While co-chefs Matt Palmerlee and (the Four Coursemen supper club founder) Eddie Russell have both departed Old Fourth Ward restaurant Last Word (701 Highland Ave.), a new cuisinier has already come along to take over the kitchen. Departing Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla at Krog Street Market to assume her new executive chef role on April 28, Layla Walk brings with her extensive experience at such acclaimed eateries as King and Duke, Bella Cucina, and The Optimist. Look for her personal twist on Mediterranean cuisine in the coming weeks.
Annie Bell Price, known to many of us as "Ms. Ann," proprietor of the renowned Memorial Drive burger dive Ann's Snack Bar, has died at age 72. Price was an Atlanta icon, her Snack Bar, an institution. Taking a place at Ms. Ann’s counter had become a rite of passage for both local and visiting food enthusiasts alike. Obeying her legendary etiquette rules, such as no leaning on the counter or cursing, were a small price to pay for a taste of Price’s famed chili bacon double cheeseburger, the Ghetto Burger, which gained national recognition when the Wall Street Journal named it one of the Best Burgers in America in 2007. Price's strict dining rules, which she rarely failed to enforce, meant everyone was treated the same at Ann’s; they created a unique camaraderie among the diverse diners who queued up in the joint’s slow-moving line day after day.
There’s no word yet on what the future holds for Ann's Snack Bar now that Price has passed, but we will update with details as they become available. If you would like to pay your respects, you can visit the tribute page set up by her family.
Joe Schafer, formerly executive chef at King and Duke and most recently of Abattoir, which shuttered in March, will return to Westside Provisions to helm Anne Quatrano’s Little Bacch, slated to take over the former site of Quinones at 1198 Howell Mill Road. Diners can look forward to high-end Continental cuisine served a la carte when the eatery opens early this summer. Details as they arise.
Mother is inviting another pop-up concept into its popular kitchen. Booze Pig and Co. comes from former Holeman and Finch Public House sous chef Robert Velazquez and former Restaurant Eugene assistant sommelier Brian Bates, who cover the food and drink, respectively. Look for items like curried pork belly, gruyere poutine, and pretzel milk panna cotta, with paired wines to complement.
Why did the chicken cross the road? West Egg Cafe, the eatery usually filled with brunchers and lunchers, will take on a new identity a few nights a week starting Wed., April 15. The new chicken-centric Oddbird pop-up will take over the Westside eatery Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Oddbird's menu consists of fried chicken biscuits, chicken sandwiches, and chicken and waffles. Springer Mountain Farms chicken will be brined and coated in cornmeal breading and spiced regular, hot, and "too hot." (Keep an eye out for the the hot chicken and waffle dish with rosemary infused syrup.)
Pastry chef Rachel Regnier calls the biscuits "butter lard biscuits," but for those who do not dig swine, a butter-only option is available. Buns for the sandwiches will be baked daily at sister restaurant the General Muir. Sides include hush puppies, mac and cheese, cole slaw, and country ham collard greens. Veggie lovers do not despair, the menu includes a salad, "eat like a bird." The dessert menu is all pie. Yay pie!
A variety of draft, bottled, and canned beers including lots of local choices will be served. There will also be mixed drinks and bottled cocktails.
Saltwood has opened in the Loews Hotel in Midtown. Really a reboot of the previous restaurant, Eleven, the rustic-modern dining concept at 1065 Peachtree St. combines locally sourced philosophies with French culinary traditions. The 190-seat restaurant (with 20-seat patio) also offers a charcuterie station, chef’s table, communal tables, mismatched seating, handcrafted cocktails, local beers, and dishes like chilled cucumber soup, cobia crudo, Alabama grass-fed rib-eye steak, and veal sweetbreads. Local purveyors from Sweet Grass Dairy to the Spotted Trotter are well represented.
Proof Bakeshop and Victory Sandwich Bar are both on track to open this month in Inman Park at 100 Hurt St. and 913 Bernina Ave., respectively. While the owners of Proof (a side venture from Decatur’s Cakes & Ale) are optimistically eyeing mid-April (due to pending permits from the city), Victory owner Ian Jones says he is aiming to open in time for the Inman Park Festival, which kicks off this year on April 25.
Miso Izakaya chef and owner Guy Wong’s long-awaited Vietnamese eatery, Le Fat, finally bowed in West Midtown on March 31. After more than a year in development and a nine-month delay to opening, the sophisticated eatery replaces Wong’s former, failed concept at 935 Marietta St., Yum Bunz. With interiors designed by Smith Hanes — known for his work on the Optimist, Watershed on Peachtree, JCT. Kitchen, and more — its menu delights with dishes like mussels, vermicelli, pho, fried fish, clay pot dishes, chili garlic prawns, pastries and more. Wong has additional restaurants in the works as well: Ton Ton at Ponce City Market and Big Boss Chinese in Decatur.
Queen of Cream will replace Fruttela, which recently closed in Inman Park at 701 Highland Ave. Proprietress Cora Cotrim, who previously hawked her product at farmers markets and festivals, will open her first physical location there later this summer. Frozen treats in more than a dozen flavors — think passionfruit, Thai tea, and green tea — as well as waffle cones, gourmet toppings, brioche ice cream sandwiches, seasonal pies, cookies, Revelator coffee, and more will be up for grabs. Details as they arise.
As a sort-of test-drive for a full-fledged spin-off restaurant, the owners of West Egg Cafe (1100 Howell Mill Road) are launching a new pop-up restaurant within the Westside restaurant. Named Oddbird, it will serve fried chicken beginning Wed., April 15. Southern-fried poultry will be served in three spiciness options on biscuits, waffles, and sandwiches. Also up for grabs are whole pies by pastry chef Rachel Regnier. No word yet on a standalone brick-and-mortar location. Details as they arise.
Himitsu, the semi-private lounge arriving late this spring from the Umi Sushi team, is on track to open in May, and will reportedly be designed by the London-based firm of Tom Dixon, Zagat Atlanta reveals. Situated adjacent to the swanky Buckhead restaurant (3050 Peachtree Road), it will serve sophisticated drinks and a limited menu of eats. The interiors will reflect the same spirit, with moody, mod decor and artwork by local artist Todd Murphy. Details as they arise.
Chef Hector Santiago's sorely missed El Burro Pollo burritos are making a cameo appearance at Urban Cannibals this weekend. Head over to the East Atlanta Village eatery Sat., March 28th to grab one of Santiago's burritos stuffed with braised chicken barbacoa, bandarita sauces, and crunchy slaw in a charred tortilla.
The "Top Chef" alum, who left his post at Abattoir last October to focus on his forthcoming Ponce City Market stall, plans to prepare a few starters and a couple burritos (one vegetarian) from rom noon until the food runs out. There will also be some chile chocolate flan brûlée for dessert.
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