Anthony Spina, who became famous for his square Grandma Pie at O4W Pizza (now in Duluth), says the pizza at Nina & Rafi—the popular BeltLine restaurant he opened last year with business partner Billy Streck—is no longer his own. In a statement, he says he has “been forced out of the creative process in the kitchen” and says he “no longer stand[s] behind the quality of the product at Nina & Rafi.”
Although he could not share explicit details, citing legal constraints, Spina says he was told his services at Nina & Rafi were “no longer needed,” although he will maintain a 30 percent ownership stake in the company.
“That food is not something I would consider my food anymore,” he says. “I’m not involved whatsoever in the food in the kitchen.”
However, Nina & Rafi owner Streck—who also owns Atwoods Pizza Café and Cypress Street Pint & Plate—says Atlantans should not worry about their favorite items disappearing from the Nina & Rafi menu. “We’re continuing to offer the same menu of pizzas the restaurant has become known for, with a few fun new additions we’ll announce soon,” he said in a statement.
The full statements from both parties are below.
“Anthony Spina is out at Nina & Rafi.
I regret to inform my loyal supporters and all that enjoy my pizza, that my pizza is no longer available at Nina & Rafi.
While I continue to hold ownership in the company, I have been forced out of the creative process in the kitchen and told that my services are no longer needed.
With that being said, I no longer stand behind the quality of the product at Nina & Rafi.
So, for now if you would like to continue to eat the pizza that so many have grown to love, as always you can order from O4W Pizza in Duluth.
I am so excited to announce that my pizza will be arriving in [Virginia-Highland] in the next couple months, with the opening of Pizza By The Slice. Also keep your eye out for the O4W Pizza truck coming soon.
Thanks for all the pizza love and the continued support.” —Anthony Spina
“We wish Anthony nothing but the best. We’re continuing to offer the same menu of pizzas the restaurant has become known for, with a few fun new additions we’ll announce soon. Our team is so grateful for the warm reception Atlanta has given Nina & Rafi, and we can’t wait to serve the neighborhood for years to come.
The guest experience, beverage program, and ingredients and quality of Nina & Rafi’s dishes remain the same. We’re always working to innovate and improve, and we’ll be putting an Italian Grinder Sandwich on the menu alongside a fun local collaboration we’ll share details on soon.” —Billy Streck
The announcement comes as Spina prepares to open a new restaurant, Pizza By the Slice, in Virginia-Highland, as well as a roving pizza truck. Located in the space formerly home to Goin’ Coastal, Pizza By the Slice is slated to open this winter. Spina describes it as a “real, up North-style pizza place” with counter service, a glassed-in pizza display, and cold submarine sandwiches.
There will be 15 pizzas sold—of course—by the slice, as well as the full pie, including a variety of styles Spina is known for: Detroit, Sicilian, and thin crust. Yes, fans, this includes the Grandma Pie. Expect pepperoni rolls, garlic knots, simple salads, beer, and wine. The subs will be similar to the cold options on the O4W Pizza menu—think tuna, turkey and provolone, and ham and salami.
The space is designed for takeout but will feature some tables inside, as well as small café seating out front. It will be open for lunch and dinner, as well as late night Thursday through Saturday.
Spina’s pizza truck will start serving the West End the first week in December. Eventually, it will rove around, announcing its location on social media. It will serve only Detroit-style slices and pies with a few toppings available.
As for Spina’s mainstay, O4W, a new pizza display replaces the bar, and cheesesteaks will be added to the menu in the next couple of weeks.
This story was updated on November 21 with additional quotes from Billy Streck.