When O4W Pizza’s owner Anthony Spina announced he was going to close his award-winning Jersey-style pizza spot and move it from its namesake Old Fourth Ward to Duluth, fans were a little perplexed, myself included. It was strange to move a seemingly successful pizza restaurant from one of the hottest areas in metro Atlanta to the far reaches of the suburbs. When Spina announced the change this past June, he cited an inability to find his year-old pizzeria a fully functional intown space. In addition, Spina and his family had relocated to Duluth, so moving the restaurant would bring the business closer to home.
In July, they opened a bare-bones space in downtown Duluth that is four times as large as their former space and offers table service and a more expansive menu. More space meant more room for creativity, and soon O4W’s Instagram page was flooded with pictures of homemade bread and pasta in addition to new pies. Though he had to abandon the pizzeria’s original ovens, which he had driven down from New Jersey, the new location’s 4-decker oven meant Spina could add new pizzas to the menu. He also introduced appetizers, such as fried rice balls and homemade mozzarella sticks, as well as a slew of salads, marinated mozzarella, and sandwiches.
I can happily report that Spina’s pizzas are still just as good as they were in O4W. And many of the new additions are also superb, such as the homemade cavatelli (pictured above), which I ordered “Jersey style”—covered in fresh, creamy ricotta—and added tender meatballs saturated in tomato sauce. Orders of pasta come with warm bread and a side salad served with a slightly sweet dressing. Spina brings a big sandwich game with the chicken Parmesan and eggplant Parmesan sandwiches where the pieces of eggplant are sliced thin before being fried making for a more manageable sandwich. Also on the menu: sausage and peppers and mussels cooked in marinara sauce.
The Grandma Pie, the signature square pizza that put O4W on the map, was a good litmus test pizza for the new location. The tomato sauce-heavy pie is covered with both melted and fresh hunks of mozzarella and sprinkled with fresh basil. Spina seems to be using less olive oil in the cast iron pan, making for a drier crust than previously offered, which I prefer. Additionally, he’s now adding the fresh mozzarella after the cook, which keeps the pizza less gooey and more resistant to sog. One of the best tests for pizza quality is the reheat factor. The drier crust means as the pizza cools, it doesn’t get as soggy as it did when the olive oil flowed more freely. The leftover slices of grandma successfully re-crisped at dinner and lunch the next day. Yes, I ate the Grandma Pie for three straight meals, and it was glorious.
My other favorite newcomer was a Jersey-style round white pie, fragrant with garlic and fresh dried parsley. Dollops of ricotta added a smooth counterpoint to the chewy melted fresh mozzarella, pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Asiago. Another favorite round pie, the Franky Pep, arrived super crispy and hot, layered with thin slices of salty prosciutto and intensely spicy chili oil. It’s as peppy as the name promises.
During my last visit, my friend paused after tearing into his third slice of pizza and said: “This really is the best pizza in Atlanta.”
“Yeah, but it’s not even in Atlanta,” I replied. But Old Fourth Ward or Duluth, who cares? Good pizza is good pizza, and this pizza king still reigns supreme. Get thee to Duluth.