James Beard Award-winner and chef Jonathan Waxman, owner of the recently shuttered Brezza Cucina at Ponce City Market, is making his next mark on Atlanta with the opening of Baffi on January 5. The new restaurant, which he describes as Italian-Californian-Georgian, takes over the Stockyards space formerly home to Donetto (976 Brady Avenue). Baffi will be led by a similar team as Brezza Cucina—which closed in June—spearheaded by executive chef Andrew Cacioppo.
The menu will feature signature Waxman items, such as roasted chicken with salsa verde, and pizzas and pastas that resemble those from Brezza. New items like wood-seared shrimp salad with spicy aioli and winter greens; wood-roasted gulf oysters with brown butter black pepper sauce; and marscarpone grits, show off Baffi’s Southern side.
Service and beverage director Don Pirone is compiling a concise bar menu with classic and seasonal cocktails, including Negronis and margaritas on tap, and an “eclectic but user-friendly” list of Italian and American wines, Waxman says.
“I wanted to continue the [Brezza] brand and had all these great people who worked for me for many years,” Waxman says. “I love the Donetto space. It’s in a funky part of town, warehouse-y, and across from Miller Union. (I just love Steven Satterfield.) It had a big outdoor area and a wood-burning oven.”
Waxman says one of the key reasons Brezza Cucina closed is because a lack of outdoor space made it unsustainable in a Covid-19 environment. As a result, Baffi will feature an elevated patio with a fire pit and 35 to 40 seats.
His team has lightened up the Donetto interior with a palette of white, light wood, and buttery yellow. Like at Brezza, the bar features an oak top and is accented by white Parisian tile. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows are designed to let in the sun.
What’s in the name? Baffi is Italian for “mustache.” Waxman’s famed New York City restaurant Barbuto is called such after the Italian word for “bearded.” Waxman decided to keep the theme going in Atlanta.