Varuni-Napoli founder eyes expansion, new restaurant locations

Targets late 2016 opening
Bastardo pizza at Varuni-Napoli

Courtesy of Varuni-Napoli

Luca Varuni, founder of Ansley’s Varuni-Napoli, is on the hunt for new locations. He says the restaurant, which opened in 2014, is doing well, and he’s considering a variety of concepts both in the neighborhood and around the city. We spoke to him to learn more.

What areas are you considering?
There are so many new, different developments. I’m looking everywhere to understand what fits my future concept. Maybe I will expand in the neighborhood I am in right now because the people here support our area. I might do a similar concept pizza-wise or maybe a pasta place or something with Italian culture. I have a couple of different ideas. Whenever I find the [location] that would be best for me, I would decide.

If you open another pizza restaurant, will it be similar to Varuni-Napoli?
If I’m going to stick with pizza, I’d do a smaller format. When the things work, I don’t want to tweak it too much. The restaurant scene in Atlanta is evolving, and you really have to listen and see what people really want.

How’s Varuni-Napoli doing?
Varuni is doing well. That’s why we’re scouting for new things. My team is getting stronger day by day. We have people coming from everywhere in Atlanta for the pizza, so it’s pushing me to get a little bigger. People love our product.

What’s new?
The menu changes continually. We change a couple of pizzas every couple of weeks. The gelato in the summer is going really well. Every Friday and Saturday around 8 p.m. or 8:30, whenever the restaurant is really full, we come out with a big pasta. It could be carbonara, fresh tomato, Bolognese sauce. We see how people react to it. We make a lot of noise and get everyone’s attention. I put it on a cart and go table by table and make sure everybody has at least a forkful.

A week from now, my mom and dad will be back from Naples. They visit every four or five months and stay for a month or two. The restaurant becomes more of a family atmosphere. The different dishes we offer [then] are never on the menu, and most we don’t charge you for. Mama is going to cook—lasagna, Italian donuts, fish, pasta, or whatever she feels like. My father loves to make his own limoncello. He makes a licorice-flavored liqueur or whatever he’s in the mood for. They pass it out. My dad is going to be singing a lot, especially opera on the weekends. It’s a hobby of his.