Jovial owner Dhirajlal Vallabh waves you to an empty table, and the meal immediately begins. There is no ordering at Vatica. The restaurant serves only a home-style tray of vegetarian dishes, called a thali, cooked by Vallabh’s wife, Sadhana. The array changes daily but typically includes a hillock of basmati rice, one or two hot breads, and small metal bowls containing smooth dal (lentil soup), two vegetable curries, and one of the most finely textured and seasoned raitas (yogurt condiments) around. One curry is always a chunky, thick-sauced potato spiked with cumin seeds. The other vegetable changes daily—perhaps a corn and green bean combo, or eggplant or okra or cauliflower. If you are wary of Indian food for its spiciness, this is the gentlest introduction possible. (And if you crave a bit more kick, ask for the homemade carrot and chile pickles delivered only upon request.) Staffers bring refills on a clanking trolley until you’re beyond sated.
1475 Terrell Mill Road, Marietta, 770-955-3740, indiagourmet.com