Fresh on the Scene: MF Sushi, Little Bacch, Novo Cucina, and Hi-Five Diner

Plus an update on Ford Fry’s King + Duke
Sorrentina Pizza at Novo Cucina

Photographs by Caroline C. Kilgore

Hi-Five Diner
This reboot of Alex Brounstein’s playful sandwich spot in Midtown has retained everything good about the space’s past life (as Villains Wicked Heroes) and added to the charm. The bar still opens to the patio, and the spicy Korean chicken sandwich has survived the makeover. The winning burger that Brounstein engineered for Grindhouse Killer Burgers is now available, as is an all-day breakfast menu featuring huevos rancheros, burritos, avocado toast, grits with eggs, and shakshuka. Bonus: The cartoonish color scheme of Villains has given way to a calmer, softer look, and service is much improved. 903 Peachtree Street, 404-347-3335 

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

MF Sushi
Even after they left for Houston in 2012, we never forgot about the magic fingers of chef Chris Kinjo and his brother, Alex, who opened the original MF Sushi on Ponce de Leon Avenue in 2001 and expanded to Buckhead in 2007. The returning restaurant (in the Inman Quarter development) provides a welcome showcase for their ambition and craftsmanship, evident in the delicate nigiri, grilled pregnant smelts, and fried oysters in panko bread crumbs. Osaka-style box sushi topped with a fluff of rich toro tuna, decadent wagyu beef nigiri garnished with gold leaf, and traditional Japanese rolls tightly wound around pickled vegetables prove that the brothers haven’t lost their touch. Splurge on an omakase dinner (starting at $125) for the complete experience. 299 North Highland Avenue, 678-575-7890

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Little Bacch
The gloomy Quinones Room, which closed in December, now sports a new chef, Joe Schafer, and an à la carte menu that feels like an homage to the early days of Bacchanalia. Excellent are the cheese soufflés, terrines, Kumamoto Oysters Rockefeller, and a deconstructed white shrimp cocktail served in a bowl with tomato sorbet and tomato water. The choice of only three entrees may prove limiting, but one is a real showpiece: a rich, whole roast chicken for two, coated with foie gras breadcrumbs and carved (feet, head, and all) over summer squash. Save room for the buttermilk shaved peach pie or the caramelized canelés. 1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-365-0410

Novo Cucina
Innovative or gimmicky? Decide for yourself at Riccardo Ullio’s fast-paced automat that’s merges his pasta specialties at Sotto Sotto with his pies at Fritti in a breezy space that all of Dunwoody seems eager to embrace. The place is run mostly by machines: The staff takes orders on iPads, wine is self-serve at an Enomatic machine, and key cards track how much you order. Right now, the pizza needs work: Top-notch combinations like pancetta and caramelized onions or hot pepper and speck struggle to shine on thin, cardboard-like crust that quickly gets soggy in the center. Fine bowls of linguine with clam sauce and Calabrese peppers or handmade strozzapreti with sweet sausage ragù arrive almost as fast as the pizza. 5592 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, 470-275-3000

—Christiane Lauterbach

Update: King + Duke
The arrival of E.J. Hodgkinson has been good for Ford Fry’s swank Buckhead meathouse. Although the massive open hearth still roars in the heart of the dining room, Hodgkinson, who came from JCT Kitchen, seems less inclined to char and smoke everything in the kitchen. Pimento cheese hushpuppies and Yorkshire pudding (you’ll want two) are delightful, but the crispy duck rillette—gamey, crunchy, and married to an eggy gribiche sauce—is appetizer nirvana. For big meat, skip the showy 2.2-pound ribeye (dubbed the King), which is $87 of ho-hum. Better to order the heritage pork chop, brined in molasses and served with a bacon gastrique. With the fat rendered just so and the sides seared to an intense crisp, it proves swine is the new steak. 3060 Peachtree Road, 404-477-3500,

—Evan Mah