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Carly Cooper

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Legacy Restaurant Partners to open barbecue joint this summer

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Legacy Restaurant Partners—the company behind Stats, Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, and Der Biergarten, among others—is working on plans for a barbecue joint, which would be located Downtown (on the same strip of Marietta Street as the aforementioned restaurants). Legacy is aiming for it to open in the third quarter of this year.

According to Legacy managing partner Brian Bullock, the restaurant will be about the size of Max’s but with a large smoker in its center. He said the type of barbecue it will serve remains under debate, but the decision has come down to either beefy Texas-style or pork, rib-centric Memphis-style. Whether the restaurant will be quick-serve or sit-down is still under discussion as well.

Bullock says the space will likely have an industrial feel, with exposed brick. It is tentatively being called the Magical Beast.

Taria Camerino talks new pastries, Sweet Genius, and the future of Sugar-Coated Radical

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Taria Camerino, creative director for the pastry programs of Ford Fry’s restaurants and founder of the now-shuttered Sugar-Coated Radical, doesn’t believe in desserts simply tasting good: Instead, she says dining is about the experience. She feels she has “an obligation” to move people, and has been studying diners at No. 246, JCT Kitchen and the Optimist to figure out how to best “engage” them, then rework the dessert menus to better reflect her discoveries. Below, she divulges the sweet details and shares her plans to re-open Sugar-Coated Radical in 2014.

On the new pastry window at No. 246
We’ve tripled dessert sales. It’s my goal to have everyone walk away eating something sweet. At 246, I’ve reduced the dessert size and designed them to pair with cocktails. The bestseller is the Harvey Darko—a beer cocktail paired with 65 percent flourless chocolate cake with salted, whipped mascarpone and candied citron.

On the Optimist
I’m redesigning the menu layout so it’s representative of the restaurant. My style is to capture the feeling of a space. I’m sick of seeing dessert plates with the ice cream and the crumbs. We can do so much more if we rely on other senses: kinesthetic and visual.

On the Optimist executive chef Adam Evans
Adam really likes ice cream, and ice creams are generally an afterthought. I thought, “How can I make a dessert menu entirely out of afterthoughts?” So I scrapped the way dessert menus are laid out and made it “ice cream and novelties.” The format of the menu will look like the side of an ice cream truck—all packed in—so people will be like “I want that, No, I want that!” There will be snow cones (coconut-lime, pomegranate), spoon straws and all; moon pies (chocolate with black pepper marshmallow); and ice cream sandwiches with hazelnut meringue cookies and juniper ice cream ribboned with lemon curd.

The new menu will be ready soon. Everything will have to be unwrapped, but it will all be compostable of course. We’ll have the [ice cream] drumsticks, the ice cream cups with the tab tops. I’m using matcha green tea for a play on strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. The boardwalk feel here is a perfect fit!

On JCT Kitchen
At JCT, we’re [calling the dessert menu] Cakes, Pies and Confections. We’ll have maybe four of each. I want to do pound cake—not toasted, not grilled, no sauce. It will be served warm with salted butter—two cakes designed to share, served in the pan they’re made in.

We’ll have English toffee and chocolate rum balls, peanut butter nougat covered in chocolate—all in tins so you can take them home. I’ll have this all ready by the end of February at the latest.

On King and Duke
King and Duke is scheduled to open around April 1. My inspiration is London—the early settlers were British. London embodies tradition and is leading the art-based food movement. I’ll have cruller for dessert because they sell them on the street in London. It’s a cross-cultural expression.

On the upcoming James Beard dinner
I’m also working on the James Beard dinner for March. The point is inspiration and I’m inspired by travel. The dessert is a travel kit in the clear zip-up bag and everything. In it, I’ll have chocolates from a Brooklyn chocolate company, a jar of mousse, whatever I can forage before the dinner. I’ll be pulling from small, ethically minded, genius-in-their-own-right places.

On her debut on the Food Network’s Sweet Genius
The show was beautiful. I wasn’t competitive. I stayed in a meditative state the entire time. This really affected the way the show played out. There was no cattiness. I finished every round early.

Other television thoughts
I’d like to do more TV. The producer wants to talk to me about doing my own show. That would be phenomenal—not because I’d be on TV but because there are so many things to show people.

On plans to reopen Sugar-Coated Radical
Not in the same way, but I do have some plans. When [my partner] Ashley [Henson] and I opened, the intention was to be a lot more collaborative than it was. I’d like to do something in about one-and-a-half years. The way I [originally] intended, even if that means going back underground and just doing events again.

I’d like to make Ashley’s sense of design equal to the candy. Ashley’s a screen printer and is working on some edible pieces. She did lick-able wallpaper for a Barbara Archer art show. [At the new Sugar-Coated Radical], you’d be able to buy her shirts and posters.

I have no idea yet [where the new Sugar-Coated Radical would be]. We have to wait for that space to show up. I’m still trying to convince Ford [Fry] to build me a bakery. It will happen; it’s a matter of when.

Mike Blum and Guy Wong bring bao and ssam to the Westside

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Yum Bunz, a fast-casual Asian spot serving steamed sandwiches called bao and Korean wraps called ssam, is set to open on the Westside next month. Mike Blum, founder of the Real Chow Baby, based the concept on a Chicago restaurant called Wow Bao and enlisted Miso Izakaya’s Guy Wong to help develop the menu.

The 3,700-square-foot restaurant across from Toscano and Sons will serve lunch and dinner and eventually breakfast. There will be stir-fry-type dishes, salads, soups, pot stickers, and dumplings along with bao and ssam. Bao are made with yeast dough and can contain the likes of yellow curry chicken or barbecue pork. Ssam consist of oversized rice paper with vegetables and chicken, steak, or tofu.

“We spent months perfecting the food. We did like thirty different Szechuan chickens, and it took almost a year to perfect the [bao] dough,” Blum says. “The restaurant won’t have a fryer, so everything will be steamed, preserving the nutrients and flavors.”

The narrow, “shotgun-type” interior will feature light woods, charcoal paints, black and white tiles, and stained polished floors. “It will be a mixture of modern and traditional with an Asian pop-art feel,” says Blum.

Yum Bunz will serve beer, wine, sake, and—despite acquiring a full liquor license—one cocktail: a mango and kaffir lime margarita.

Blum’s goal is to open freestanding locations in Buckhead and Perimeter in 2014, plus concessions at stadiums, airports, and college campuses. He says he’s even talking to former NBA star David Robinson about a partnership that would bring Yum Bunz to New York and Texas.

But first, the Westside location must open. Yum Bunz is about 75 percent built out and should be ready to open by the end of February, says Blum. When that happens, Wong will stay at Miso Izakaya and Chris Lee, who worked with Blum at Chow Baby, will take the lead in the kitchen.

“[Diners] have always gravitated toward quick-serve Asian on that side of town and we’re filling that niche,” Blum says. “Plus, the value of the concept ($8 and under) is really needed over there. It’s hard to find a place besides Subway or Chipotle where you can get that.”

Dante’s Deal on Hold

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In November 2012, word got out that Dante Stephensen, owner of Dante’s Down the Hatch—an eclectic fondue restaurant and jazz club with a 43-year history—had agreed to sell Dante’s to Atlantic Realty Partners, who planned to tear down the building and replace it with a luxury apartment tower. Now, Stephensen says the deal is on hold and the Buckhead restaurant will not be closing March 31 as planned.

Stephensen says the mid-January real estate closing with Atlantic Realty Partners didn’t happen, and as of January 19, he was no longer under contract with them. However, other interested parties have popped up, and he’s currently talking to someone who wants to purchase the land but may not want to redevelop it for some time. In that case, Stephensen says he hopes he could sell the land and pay rent to the new owner, thus enabling him to keep the restaurant open for another five to 10 years.

“I’m not ready to retire, but if the price gets high enough, I can’t afford not to,” Stephensen says. “I owe that much to the stockholders.”

He explains that his main objective is to be able to take care of his staff, many of whom have worked at Dante’s for more than 25 years. He attributes their loyalty to his profit-sharing plans and the memories created at the restaurant.

“This place is fun. It allows you to get your mind off whatever’s bothering you,” he says of the space, which is designed to look like a ship, complete with a wharf, lighthouse, and live crocodiles.

Even if Stephensen does end up selling, he plans on having a big anniversary party for his employees (both current and former) on April 9, and a closing party for the public in the future. He says he’d like to auction off everything in the restaurant, from the fondue pots to the witch in the women’s restroom, in order to allow Dante’s live on in Atlantans’ homes forever. The crocodile, however, would be donated to Zoo Atlanta.

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead reopens for Valentine’s weekend

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The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, once the only restaurant in the Southeast to receive the prestigious Mobil Five Star Award, is reopening for a Valentine’s pop-up February 14 through February 16.

The Dining Room—which had been home to renowned chefs including Guenter Seeger, Joel Antunes and Arnaud Berthelier—closed in October 2009, citing high costs and a changing economy. Now, Ritz-Carlton executive chef Franck Steigerwald is opening the room for three days only. He’s serving a four-course seated dinner with optional wine pairings from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The menu includes warm Maine lobster salad, wild mushroom risotto with robiola cheese and truffle oil, seared veal loin, and petit fours. The cost is $99 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), plus $65 for wine pairings.

“I have been asked by many of our loyal customers if the Dining Room would be re-opened, since they have such wonderful, fond memories of experiencing it,” said Erwin Schinnerl, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. “This pop-up concept allows us to have a limited engagement for the three-day period over Valentine’s and fulfill a need and desire of many of our guests.”

The Menu:

Amuse Bouche

First Course

Warm Maine lobster salad, organic petite lettuce, fresh basil,
verjus and raspberry vinaigrette, beurre blanc

Marbré of foie gras and asparagus, port wine jelly, black pepper, poached apple

Bélon oyster, cauliflower cream and caviar

Beef tartar with black truffle, quail egg, aged parmesan and baby mache

Second Course

Hand-cut tagliatelle, West Coast sea urchin and piment d’espelette

Hand-rolled potato and ricotta gnocchi, squab breast with lavender sauce, confit turnips

Wild mushroom risotto with robiola cheese and white truffle oil

Entree

Hay-smoked European turbot ”maestro style,” crushed fingerling potato in Sicilian olive oil, pearl onions and port wine sauce

Crispy Mediterranean sea bass, tomato compote with fresh herbs, preserved lemon sauce

Beef rossini 2013, potato mousseline, madeira Sauce

Seared veal loin, brown butter, osso bucco ravioli
fennel-dusted sweet bread, sauternes sauce

Dessert

Selection of desserts

Petit fours and mignardises

Octopus Bar to offer new menu items while Angus Brown is in Vietnam

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Octopus Bar chef Angus Brown is on his way to Vietnam and Japan. He’ll spend the next four months working in different kitchens and learning new cooking techniques to bring back to Atlanta for his next venture, a full-service restaurant called Octopus. Though Octopus won’t open until summer, at the earliest, Octopus Bar remains in full force late on Monday nights and Thursday through Saturday nights. Nhan Le—Brown’s partner in Octopus Bar, and the owner of East Atlanta’s So Ba, on whose patio Octopus Bar operates—is in charge.

Both Brown and Le reassure me that they will be speaking frequently while Brown’s away, and Brown will remain involved in both their existing and future ventures. However, Le will be changing the Octopus Bar menu a bit to focus on his strengths—namely seafood. There may be sashimi, nigiri, needlefish, and/or periwinkle fish. Grilled black bass and trout are possibilities too, depending on what Le can source locally. He may also add potpie to the menu, and plans to bring back a braised rabbit pasta dish Brown served previously.

In addition, Octopus Bar is hiring a couple of line cooks to help make pastas and other existing menu items. Farmer Hudson Rouse is helping Le source vegetables—something Brown typically does. Rouse is also working in the kitchen, primarily focusing on salads.

“The core menu will still have Angus’s influence—we’ll just focus more on Japanese and Asian,” Le says. “I think what Angus is doing is awesome. It’s all education. The more he sees, he’ll use the knowledge a bit here and there, and we’ll benefit from it.”

Brown plans to return to Atlanta in mid-May and wants to jump right into making Octopus a reality. He and Le have been looking at properties near Memorial Drive, Boulevard, Little Five Points, and even Inman Park and West Midtown. They want space for a raw bar where Le can prepare oysters, stone crabs, clams, and high-end sashimi. They also need room for a yakitori (Japanese charcoal grill), on which Brown can prepare entrees.

“It’ll be like a clean-cut Octopus Bar,” Brown says about Octopus. “Five-star service, no attitude, no pretension.”

The duo has been talking to another (as yet unnamed) local chef who would work the lunch rush, while Brown and Le concentrate their efforts on dinner and late night. As for the atmosphere, Brown’s thinking subway tile and graffiti.

“We’re ready to be a full-time restaurant,” Brown says. “We’re hungry for it.”

Saltyard to open in Brookwood in the spring

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La Grotta managing partner Christian Favalli, and his wife, fellow restaurant veteran Kristy Jones-Favalli, will open Saltyard, an American restaurant serving small plates, in the Brookwood building on Peachtree this spring. Named after the ancient tradition of sharing salt as a sign of friendship, ‘Saltyard’ represents the hospitality the Favallis hope to offer.

“We met in the restaurant industry—working at TWO Urban Licks—and have always shared of love of the social aspect of food,” Jones-Favalli said. “It’s our way of life.”

“We consider ourselves a purveyor of good times,” Favalli added. “So, we want [to make] Saltyard a place where people want to a be, where they can leave their day at the door.”

The Favallis lived in the East Atlanta Village for thirteen years and are trying to bring a bit of that vibe to Buckhead with Saltyard. Designed by Square Feet Studio, the restaurant will feature warm, ambient lighting, reclaimed woods, industrial metals, soft banquettes, an open kitchen, and a 45-seat patio. Favalli says it will be “unpretentious and comfortable—a place where people can come in shorts and a T-shirt and get a few small plates and a glass of wine or two for like $25.”

According to Jones-Favalli, the duo opted to focus on small plates because that’s the way they prefer to dine. “We love to go out to dinner and have five or six appetizers and then go to another place and have more appetizers, kind of tapas-style,” she said.

Thus far, the Favallis have four menu drafts written. They cover the gamut, featuring comfort food, raw options, and fresh seafood. Though they haven’t settled on which items will make the final cut, they know the menu will be divided into Bites; Charcuterie, Cheeses, and Larders; Veggies; Starches; Meat; Seafood; and Entrées. These sections may include bacon beignets, oven-roasted cauliflower with preserved lemon, roasted pumpkin ravioli, butter poached lobster burrata, and pork schnitzel.

Bar snacks will range from $3 to $5, small plates will cost $5 to $9, and entrées (of which there may only be four or five) will be priced at $15 to $24.

The Lawrence’s Eric Simpkins is consulting on the bar. Plans include five to 10 craft beers on tap and 18 by the bottle, plus domestic wines and cocktails. “Nothing over the top—we don’t want drinks to take 15 minutes to make,” Favalli said.

If all goes according to plan, Saltyard will open in mid to late May.

Chick-a-Biddy: Not just a mini Bantam and Biddy

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Like other pundits, Food & Wine magazine’s Kate Krader recently named chicken as one of the top trends for 2013, citing Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere’s Bantam and Biddy as an example. Though Doty admits Bantam and Biddy is a work in progress, he and Gummere are riding the wave and already have another chicken spot in the works: Chick-a-Biddy is scheduled to open in April or May in Atlantic Station. Below, Doty gives us details on Chick-a-Biddy’s menu style, who he’s hired to help run the kitchen, and what the atmosphere will be like.

Not too long ago, you changed the format of Bantam and Biddy from quick-serve to table-service. Will Chick-a-Biddy have table service, too?
We made a mistake doing counter service at Bantam and Biddy. I realized we really need waiters and table service, so Chick-a-Biddy will be table service, too.

How will the menu at Chick-a-Biddy be different from the one at Bantam and Biddy?
It will be the same price point as Bantam and Biddy. We’ll have grilled chicken, fried chicken, some cool salads, and interesting appetizers. We haven’t really fleshed it out yet, but it will focus on classics with really good ingredients. We might serve half of a wood-grilled chicken with a broccoli casserole and some more traditional sides, like hand-cut sweet potato fries. It’s taking a fast-casual restaurant, keeping it simple, and making it better quality. At Bantam and Biddy, we have some esoteric dishes like arancini (risotto balls), but we won’t have that at Chick-a-Biddy.

We are going to do some really cool cocktails. I’m so excited about the response to the beverage component at Bantam and Biddy. General manager Kristen Childers did a phenomenal job with the cocktails. At Chick-a-Biddy, we want to so something similar, yet be creative.

Tell me about the atmosphere.
Atlantic Station has a different energy and audience than Ansley. It’s more engineered to people going to the movies, shopping at H&M, and spending the evening there. We want Chick-a-Biddy to be in the mix with something fresh; good quality food, simple, and art-driven. It will be bright, shiny, airy, and illuminated. Chick-a-Biddy embraces graphic design, music, and energy. It’s being designed by the Johnson Studio as a whimsical, modern diner, and I’m having a well-known DJ help me figure out the music and really realize my idea. It’s a holistic approach to creating an uplifting experience.

How will you merge your cooking style with that of Lance at Chick-a-Biddy?
Now that we have the experience working together at Bantam and Biddy, it will be easier to do so at Chick-a-Biddy. It’s all about economies of scale. I usually say if you can make something with three ingredients, then that’s the best. Lance would like to make it with ten ingredients for the complexity of flavors. We bumped heads in a friendly way about that. It’s a stylistic difference—a difference in philosophy—but both are equally valid. The result of us working through this at Bantam and Biddy will be a collaborative, streamlined process for Chick-a-Biddy.

How will the continuous changes at Bantam and Biddy affect Chick-a-Biddy, given that Chick-a-Biddy is supposed to be the little sister restaurant?
I own the business, so I can do whatever I want. I’m not a chain restaurant; I’m a chef-driven independent business. If I want to do table service, boom. If I want to do something else, boom. We are going to continue to tweak Bantam and Biddy as an esoteric chef-driven place. Chick-a-Biddy will be more fully formed because I have more of a clear vision of what it needs to be: simple without being simplistic. It will be more of an ironclad product.

How will you split time between all of your restaurants?
There’s a lot to do at the top level. Lance is the chef de cuisine. He’s going to split his time. I’ll be doing administration. That doesn’t mean I won’t be wearing a chef jacket ever, but that’s our division of labor. He’s going to be running the restaurants at the ground level. We have a great partnership. I have a new guy who worked at Marlow’s Tavern—Scott Weaver—who will be a chef at Chick-a-Biddy. He’s training at Bantam and Biddy now.

Health-minded restaurants to start the year off right

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You know how it goes: At the start of January, people flock to gyms and swear off eating out. But it never lasts. So maybe this year we can modify those goals and just add a few organic, sustainable, or local-minded restaurants to our usual rotation (while still trying to make smart choices). Here are a few ideas:

Tassili’s Raw Reality
A raw and vegan restaurant in the West End, Tassili’s packs spices and chiles into many of its dishes to enliven green, grains, and legumes. Perhaps the most unique item on the menu is the spicy naked tacos, which include a chili-infused sunflower paté, guacamole, and “five-alarm” salsa.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill
Open for over twenty-five years, R. Thomas serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Buckhead’s Brookwood neighborhood twenty-four hours a day. Ma

Erawan Organic Thai
An organic Thai restaurant in Sandy Springs, Erawan has been serving curries, noodles, and more since 2004. Executive chef Vara Chieosamut offers plenty of vegetarian dishes, too.

Radial Cafe
Best known for its brunch, Radial Café focuses on sustainable, local fare. In fact its tagline is “Small carbon footprint. Big local flavor.” Located near Candler Park, Radial now offers organic cocktails made in-house.

The Bakery at Cakes & Ale
A lunch and brunch spot, the Bakery at Cakes & Ale features an ever-changing menu of soups, salads, panini, omelets, and more, made with seasonal ingredients from local farmers. Atlanta Magazine dining editor Bill Addison says, “Chef David Sweeney’s food always makes a body feel nourished.” For those who want to indulge, there’s always an endless array of breads and pastries, too.

Atlanta’s 13 most anticipated restaurants for 2013

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We reviewed 2012 a couple weeks back. What will 2013 bring? Here are the thirteen restaurants we’re most anticipating:

KR SteakBar
Scheduled to open in late February after months of delays caused by permitting issues, KR SteakBar will be Kevin Rathbun’s fourth Atlanta restaurant. Set at a lower price point than Rathbun’s and Kevin Rathbun Steak, KR SteakBar, located in ADAC (the design center newly open to the public) in the Peachtree Hills section of Buckhead, will feature Italian-inspired small plates and petite cuts of steak.

Gunshow
Chef Kevin Gillespie cooked his last meat at Woodfire Grill on New Year’s Eve and plans to open this Glenwood Park restaurant in the spring. With a name that represents his Southern upbringing, Gunshow will have an “open format” … and what that means exactly has yet to be revealed.

The General Muir
The West Egg Cafe team is branching out with a Jewish-style deli. The General Muir will open in the new Emory Point city center early in the year. Todd Ginsberg has already left his post at Westside’s Bocado to take the lead in the General Muir’s kitchen.

King and Duke
Ford Fry has at least three new metro-area restaurants in the works. The first, King and Duke, will take over the former Nava space in Buckhead and serve “Colonial American” cuisine (for now, we only know that means plenty of cooking in the restaurant’s large hearth). Expect an April opening.

Bar Antico
Antico Pizza’s Giovanni di Palma opened Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano last month. Next up in his plans for his Piazza San Gennaro (his nickname for the businesses he’s opening on his block of Hemphill Avenue near Fourteenth Street) is Bar Antico, where he will serve dessert and after-dinner drinks. The gelato shop and bar are set to open near Georgia Tech in the spring.

Villains
After several pop-up trial runs in the fall, Villains’ “wickedly good” sandwiches will open in the former Little Azio space in Midtown come February. Alex Broustein (Grindhouse Burgers), Jason McClure (formerly of Flip), and Jared Lee Pyles (formerly of HD1) promise a new, decadent take on handheld meals.

Foundation
If everything goes according to plan, Inman Park residents can expect a new restaurant led by chef Mel Toledo (formerly of Bacchanalia) on DeKalb Avenue this winter. Not much has been said about the food, but ai3 is designing the interior, so expect a fun, smart vibe.

Ink & Elm
Also being designed by ai3, this 7,000-square-foot behemoth in Emory Village (with both a lounge and restaurant) will feature Southern cuisine from Atlanta native Stephen Sharp, whose resume includes Blue Ridge Grille and French American Brasserie (FAB). Winter or spring.

Chai Pani
This Indian street food restaurant hails from Asheville and is moving into the former Watershed space in Decatur. It will likely open in the first quarter of 2013.

Octopus
Angus Brown and Nhan Le of Octopus Bar have been scouting locations to turn their late-night sensation into a restaurant that serves dinner at regular hours. The opening date is yet to be determined, but we do know Brown is traveling to Vietnam this winter, so a summer or fall launch seems probable.

Pura Vida Redux
Hector Santiago closed his longstanding Poncey-Highland favorite on December 31 when his lease on the building ended. Santiago and his wife, Leslie, are hunting for a larger space in which to reopen—hopefully by the end of the year.

BoccaLupo
Bruce Logue bought Sauced, located on Edgewood a few blocks northeast of Ammazza and Miso Izakaya, from Ria Pell and plans to open Italian-themed BoccaLupo there in the spring. Logue promises a pasta bar, local cheeses, and perhaps some old favorites from his days at La Pietra Cucina.

Airport Eats
Okay, we cheated a bit here. So many well-known Atlanta restaurants are opening outposts in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this year that we just couldn’t name them all individually. Before your summer vacation to Europe, plan to arrive early for a meal, choosing from among Varasano’s Pizzeria, Ecco, Chicken & Beer (from Ludacris), Twist, and more.

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