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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.

2012 year in review

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A handful of hotspots opened, longtime staples closed, and more and more local chefs became reality TV stars. Foodies tried to counter the effects of pork over-indulgence by eating more kale. Bitter-laced cocktails maintained their momentum, and farm-to-table fatigue set in (for the expression and the overload of pimento cheese, anyway; local, seasonal ingredients should be a given in any ambitious restaurant). Food trucks banded together and opened a park—twice. The list goes on and on. Read on for the monthly highlights . . . if for no other reason than to say “remember when.”

January
Cardamom Hill opens on Northside Drive, featuring cuisine from Kerala, the southwestern-most state of India. Executive chef and owner Asha Gomez is later featured in the September issues of Food & Wine and Bon Appetit and named one the Top 10 Chefs You Need to Know in Atlanta by the Braiser.

February
Cucina Asellina, the Italian restaurant adjacent to STK Atlanta, opens, providing a trendy yet comfortable place for pasta and pizza on the Midtown Mile. In the suburbs, Little Alley Steak launches, making Roswell’s Canton Street restaurant row an even buzzier destination.

March
Award-winning restaurant critic Besha Rodell is laid off from Creative Loafing along with several other longtime staffers. Creative Loafing later asks Rodell to freelance for the paper, but she picks up a more high-profile gig at LA Weekly.

Shane Devereux (Dinner Party Atlanta, Top Flr, and Sound Table) opens the Lawrence with partners Patrick La Bouff and Darren Carr. He departs just eight months later and is replaced by executive chef Jonathan St. Hilaire.

April
Atlanta’s first food truck park opens on Howell Mill Road, then temporarily closes and reopens. The Atlanta police cite permit issues, but the Atlanta Street Food Coalition stands its ground. Food trucks become a permanent fixture in the city—as well as an easy way for aspiring restaurateurs to get their name known.

May
The new LEED-certified international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport opens with space planned for Ecco, Lorena Garcia Tapas Bar, and the Varsity.

Richard Blais (previously known for burgers, hot dogs, and Top Chef) returns to the kitchen with the opening of the Spence, making headcheese (mixed with macaroni) palatable to Atlantans.

Watershed moves from Decatur to Brookwood with Joe Truex in the kitchen. The restaurant’s official name becomes Watershed on Peachtree.

June
The Atlanta Nosh, an evolution of the Atlanta Underground Market started by Michaela Graham, closes its doors. Graham flees to Seattle, hoping the free-spirited population there will better embrace her vision.

July
Fifth Group (the Original El Taco, La Tavola, Ecco, Alma Cocina, and South City Kitchen) opens a sustainable seafood spot called Lure. Buzz-worthy touches include an anchor from the bottom of the Boston Harbor and a lamp made from the nose of a World War II bomber.

August
The New York-based 5 Napkin Burger shutters its 10th and Piedmont location, proving once again that what succeeds in other major cities doesn’t always work in the ATL.

Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s Southwestern spot Nava also closes. Ford Fry later announces plans to open a colonial-American eatery here.

September
Giving Antico Pizza some real competition, brothers Jason and Hugh Connerty open Ammazza in the Old Fourth Ward. Glitter pizza becomes a thing.

October
The Optimist is named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire Magazine, boosting chef Ford Fry’s popularity more than anyone thought possible, and raising expectations for his next restaurant (likely opening in spring), King Duke.

Shaun Doty gets into the chicken market with the opening of Bantam and Biddy in Ansley Park. Most reviewers are surprisingly quiet about the restaurant.

November
The Georgia Restaurant Association honors Linton Hopkins—owner of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, H&F Bottle Shop, and H&F Bread Co.—with the 2012 Innovator Award.

Sorrento lemon chicken

Dante Stephensen, founder of Dante’s Down the Hatch, is inducted into the Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame. Shortly thereafter, he regretfully announces that Dante’s will be closing in March.

December
Antico Pizza’s Giovanni Di Palma opens Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, the first component of his planned Piazza San Gennaro. (Pictured right: Gio’s Sorrento lemon chicken.)

Longtime favorite Pura Vida announces on its Facebook page that owners Hector and Leslie Santiago will close its doors at the end of the month.

Sheik Burritos to close December 23, reopen in spring 2013

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After three years in a nondescript shopping center on Piedmont Road just south of Buckhead, Sheik Burritos n Kabobs will close its doors on December 23. Owner Jahan Ostad said Sheik is by no means going out of business—he plans to reopen in a larger location in Midtown or Poncey-Highlands in spring of 2013.

The upcoming closure is a result of the shopping plaza being under contract with developer Archstone. The deal is scheduled to close at the end of this year. If it goes through, the plaza, including the Sheik Burritos unit, Pots ‘N Pans restaurant and Taco Cabana, will be demolished and turned into apartments with possible retail space underneath. Ostad said Archstone posted “Now leasing for 2014” signs and announced plans to break ground in the second quarter of 2013.

To celebrate Sheik’s temporary close, the restaurant is hosting a “3 Year Going Away Party” on December 16 from 2 p.m. until dark, weather permitting. This free event will feature King of Pops, live rock ‘n’ roll by the Sheik Allegiance Band (a group of regulars playing covers), a burrito-eating competition, and several “very special guests,” Ostad says. The burrito-eating competition costs $20 to enter but is free for those who eat at least three burritos. SweetWater beer may be provided as well.

Ostad says he sees the restaurant’s impending closure as a positive thing. “We’ve been stifled in our current location without the proper space to grow,” he says. “It’s bittersweet because of the fond memories we have here, but we welcome the closing of this chapter and look forward to the future.”

Sheik lovers fear not: the Persian-Southwestern burritos may just make an appearance at festivals or pop-ups, come New Year’s. Ostad is busy working on revamping the menu, and he has high hopes for expansion. “Four restaurants in four years in Atlanta, then nationwide—100 units!” he exclaims.

Jason McClure: Villains to open early February

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Last July, HD1’s executive chef Jared Lee Pyles announced he was leaving the haute doggery to open a sandwich shop with FLIP’s Jason McClure and Grindhouse Burgers’ Alex Broustein. In September, the boys held a pop-up at Miso Isakaya, showcasing their “wickedly good” sandwiches, which they had initially planned to sell from the Old Fourth Ward. Fast forward a few months, and the chefs have instead secured the Little Azio space in Midtown, with Villains set to open there in February 2013. McLure gave us the scoop on what we can expect.

How did the name Villains come about?
Alex, Jared and I were sitting at a bar one night talking about how there are no really great, identifiable sandwich shops in Atlanta. Food has become so bland because of the health movement, and we wanted to create a place where the sandwiches just feel decadent. I’ve always had a passion for bad guys—the coolness of it, and I’ve had this running joke with my son about how Darth Vader has more fun than Luke Skywalker. We wanted a place that could feel a little counterculture and that’s Villains—wickedly good heroes.

How will that theme come to life in the restaurant?
The sandwiches will be named after the bad guys in comic books and movies, but nothing too obvious. We want the movie buffs to be rewarded that they are in-the-know when they come here and recognize the sandwich name and can tell their friends “hey that’s the villain from that movie.” [The sandwiches will have] names like Bugsy Siegel, Megatron, Odd Job and David Lo Pan.

I fished out my old 1980s comic books from mom’s house and we got our color palette inspiration from there. We’re thinking black, toxic green, electric orange with some blue, purple, and stark white. We wanted a logo that could be spray painted near the entry point of the restaurant, like a graffiti tag.

So aside from the colors, what do you envision for the décor?
We’re about two weeks away from nailing down the final vision, but we want to use a lot of metals. The entrance will look like an evil lair—the space already has subway tiles and an arched roof. We’ll have maps, schematics, and countdown clocks . . . things that are worth a chuckle but not Disneyesque. Once inside, it’ll be more like a canteen (the villains’ secret meeting space). Studio Fong (who worked on Grindhouse) is helping with the build out.

What kind of sandwiches will you focus on, and what sides will you offer?
We’re doing plays on classic regional sandwiches like the reuben and banh mi. There’s the King Pig of Crime, a roast porchetta; and the Odd Job, a Korean fried chicken sandwich tossed in an Asian buffalo sauce with pear slaw. We’ll have a couple of side salads, like the Cherry Bomb (tomato and charred tofu), and one full-size—the Hail Niro—an Asian-style Caesar salad with white miso dressing and kale instead of romaine, topped with fried ramen. We might do a soup, plus chili, vegetarian chicharrones, braised radish with bacon in the winter, and rotating popcorn specials.

We’ll keep with seasonality. We’re trying to lock down a menu and execute consistently, but let’s put it this way: I forbade Alex from putting up a menu board that we couldn’t change easily. I think all menus should be chalkboards [laughs].

We’ll have a full bar and do some sort of roast pork entrée for dinner Thursdays through Saturdays. Later, we might do a rotating chef series on Saturday evenings. That’s something I got to do at Miso Isakaya. It was a powerful experience and I want to share that with other young chefs.

Anything else we should know?
We’re thinking about some sort of delivery function—maybe bikes with fake gun mounts to keep with the theme. Jared is an avid urban biker so he’s into that. . . Also, I’m not sure if we’ll actually do this, but we’ve been joking about having a list of evil people in the restaurant and if your name shows up on the list, you’re too evil to eat there and you won’t be allowed in. Like Bobby Petrino, after what he did to the Falcons.

The 13 most anticipated restaurants of 2013

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Last year, Richard Blais got back in the kitchen with the Spence, Fifth Group opened a sustainable seafood spot (Lure), and the Optimist was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire Magazine. Giovanni Di Palma drafted plans for a miniature Little Italy near Georgia Tech (see Bar Antico below), Shaun Doty got into the fast-casual chicken market with the opening of Bantam and Biddy, and numerous local chefs appeared on Chopped.

What will 2013 bring? We’ve compiled the 13 most anticipated restaurants of the year—just to give you a little something to look forward to.

KR SteakBar
Scheduled to open in late February after months of delays caused by permitting, KR SteakBar will be the fourth restaurant in Chef Kevin Rathbun’s growing empire. More affordable than Rathbun’s and Kevin Rathbun Steak, KR SteakBar—located in ADAC, newly open to the public, in Peachtree Hills—will tout Italian-inspired small plates targeted at the 20- and 30-year old set.

Gunshow
Chef Kevin Gillespie recently left his longtime post at Woodfire Grill 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” . . . what that means exactly has yet to be revealed.

The General Muir
The West Egg Cafe team is branching out, Jewish deli-style. The General Muir will open in the new Emory Point city center early in the year. Todd Ginsberg, formerly of Bocado, will take the lead in the kitchen.

King Duke
Ford Fry supposedly has three new metro-area restaurants in the works. The first, King Duke, will take over the former Nava space in Buckhead and serve colonial American cuisine. This hearth cooking restaurant is estimated to open in March.

Bar Antico
Antico Pizza’s Giovanni di Palma opened Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano in December 2012. Next up in his Piazza San Gennaro plans is Bar Antico, where he hopes patrons will enjoy dessert and after-dinner drinks. The gelato shop and bar are set to open near Georgia Tech in the spring.

Villains
After several pop-ups 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 regional classics.

Chick-a-biddy
The sister restaurant of Shaun Doty’s Bantam and Biddy, Chick-a-biddy will be a smaller rotisserie chicken spot in Atlantic Station. Look for it in the spring.

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 you can expect a fun vibe.

Ink & Elm
Said to celebrate the history of Druid Hills and particularly Frederick Law Olmsted’s role in designing it, Ink & Elm will open in Emory Village this winter and feature a lounge, tavern and dining room specializing in Southern cuisine.

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

Octopus
Angus Brown and Nhan Lee 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 spring or summer seems more likely.

BoccaLuppo
Bruce Logue bought the old Sauced space from Ria Pell and plans to open BoccaLuppo, an Italian-American restaurant, there in the spring. Logue promises a pasta bar, local cheeses, and perhaps some old favorites from his days at La Pietra Cucina, such as Calabrese sausage.

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. We’re excited for Varasano’s Pizzeria, Ecco, Chicken & Beer (from Ludacris), Twist, and more.

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