Publik Draft House and Baraonda owners take over Villaggio Gastro Italian in Decatur

Interior and menu renovations to focus more on authenticity
Villaggio interior

Photo by Perry Winkle

Villaggio_Pizza_ Perry Winkle

Photo by Perry Winkle

Villaggio Gastro Italian, a little-known Italian restaurant at 1355 Clairmont Road in Decatur, opened last year, but in the last few months, the owners of Publik Draft House and Baraonda have stepped in to renovate the space and revamp the menu. The team includes owners Eddie Johnson, Costanzo Astarita, Mario Maccarrone, and Alin Cruceanu. “Everything is made in house,”Johnson says. “We are dedicated to that and locally sourcing and using organic whenever possible.”

Astarita, the executive chef of all three restaurants, has teamed up with chef de cuisine Mike Prentiss (formerly of the Luminary) to focus on authentic Italian fare. “The menu is more homemade Italian food—stuff I grew up with, things we feel comfortable eating,” he says.

The new menu includes classic pastas, 10-inch Neopolitan-style pizzas, and entrees such as strozzapreti and pollo parmigiano. Pizza is made with 00 flour and plum tomatoes imported from Campania and topped with local vegetables and meats. One of the signature items is braciole di manzo—beef tenderloin with cheese and sautéed spinach, twisted into a pinwheel of sorts. There’s also veal marsala, burrata, and housemade focaccia. To drink: a full bar with drinks like aperol spritzer and grappa, as well as Italian wines. The space itself features exposed brick, Restoration Hardware light fixtures, light wood tables, and photos of Italy on the walls. There’s also a 50-seat patio.