Eat This: La Grotta’s Veal Chop

Chef Antonio Abizanda’s dish has gone unchanged for almost 40 years
La Grotta's veal chop

Photograph by Drew Podo

The elevator down to La Grotta could be a time machine. The doors slide open to reveal a windy path to an elegant dining room, replete with white tablecloths and soft opera music. The menu sports classics like beef tenderloin with gorgonzola and veal with marsala sauce. The restaurant seems virtually unchanged since 1978—and that’s the point. Chef and co-owner Antonio Abizanda has been in charge of the kitchen since the restaurant opened. Over nearly four decades, he built a loyal following in Atlanta with a menu of staples, the most popular of which are the veal chops. “When people come here, they don’t even look at the menu,” Abizanda says. “They sometimes ask me to recommend something, but if they want the veal chops, I can’t change their minds.”

Abizanda butchers the veal in house and spends at least two hours every day processing meat and prepping the thick, bone-in cut. Almost a pound of veal is served alongside seasonal vegetables, topped with a simple sauce of red wine and veal jus. “We just grill the veal chops and reduce red wine and veal jus,” Abizanda says. “The dish is a classic Italian recipe, and it hasn’t changed since the restaurant opened.”

Abizanda adds, “On a daily basis, we sell a lot of veal. Some days around 10 orders, others around 15.” He credits the dish’s popularity in part to its presentation, but also because the veal is surprisingly light and lean. “It’s tender and has almost no fat,” he says. “You can finish it, but it’s not so heavy.”