Giovanni Di Palma takes the same moxie that made his Antico Pizza Napoletana (located right next door) an Atlanta phenomenon and applies it to poultry, with winning results. Antico devotees will recognize the routine: Order at a counter, then settle in the handsomely barebones room with tables covered in blue checkered cloth. The atmosphere keeps your attention focused on the food. Seven chicken dishes and four pastas make up the menu. The Sorrento lemon chicken is Di Palma’s favorite and the impetus for the restaurant: Citrus, olive oil, and wild oregano perfume organic bird from Pennsylvania’s Bell & Evans. It bathes in a broth given an umami boost from Pecorino Romano cheese and is flanked with crisp-soft potato wedges and slices of charred focaccia made from Antico pizza dough. I’m even more partial to two other variations: cacciatore (a mix of mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, and red wine that will fuel nostalgia Northeastern transplants’ nostalgia), available only on Sundays, and a winter version similar to the Sorrento that’s made with tangy-sweet blood oranges. Among the pastas, the Napoletana with piquant sausage and pleasantly bitter rapini tossed with ziti-like noodles provides satisfying flavor contrasts. Unlike Antico, where I always want to scarf down my pie on the premises to avoid soggy crust, Gio’s chicken is superb for takeout and reheats beautifully for lunch the next day.
1099 Hemphill Avenue, 404-347-3874, gioschicken.com
This article originally appeared in our September 2013 issue.