The verdict on 6 newcomers to Atlanta’s dining scene

Neapolitan pizza, oysters, barbecue, and more
Eggplant Parm pizza

Photograph by Heidi Geldhauser/Our Labor of Love

The Local Pizzaiolo
Less heavy than the pizzas that claim to be authentically Neapolitan but thicker and softer than the ones made in the Roman style, these quickly fired, 11-inch pies are beauties. Italian co-owner Giulio Adriani, a bona fide pizza champion, offers creative options such as the Mona Lizza (spicy nduja spreadable salami, fresh ricotta, slow-roasted yellow tomatoes, and a sexy drizzle of hot honey), the Montanara (flash-fried dough, Sicilian Ciliegino tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, Grana Padano Parmesan, and fresh basil), and the even less traditional Local pie (inspired by Heirloom Market BBQ and featuring smoked beef). The glam, modern space suits the expanded menu of “superfood” salads, farro grain bowls, and Nutella bites—and underscores that the Local Pizzaiolo isn’t your ordinary pizza joint. A small selection of Italian groceries and a good beverage section, including a Negroni on tap, complete the experience. Adriani plans to expand the pizzeria to Toco Hills and Sandy Springs later this year and to Memorial Drive’s Madison Yards in 2019. 1000 W. Marietta Street, 678-705-2672

The White Bull
The White Bull, the new restaurant next to the Brick Store Pub on Decatur Square, takes its name from Ernest Hemingway’s characterization of a blank page. At the expense of reading too deep, you might conclude that the White Bull has embarked on a somewhat similar mission to create something profound from scratch. Consider that the pastas, including a pleasantly chewy mafalde (like ribbons cut from curly-edged sheets of lasagna), are crafted from house-milled flour. As those dishes and a few others confirm, the restaurant is at its best when it sticks to Hemingway-inspired simplicity. The kitchen is especially skilled with fish, which is no surprise given that the White Bull is run by two expats from the Optimist, Ford Fry’s seafood house. A masterfully pan-seared flounder resting in aji amarillo and topped with crispy kale, pickled daikon, and squid ink–stained tapioca pearls was more straightforward than it sounds—and just as delicious. An over-lubricated broccoli tempura, on the other hand, suffered from the one-two punch of fryer oil and bonito aioli. The lemon couldn’t cut through the greasiness, but one of the craftily named cocktails—try the Importance of Being Ernest (Papa’s Pilar blonde rum, grapefruit, lime, Peychaud’s Bitters)—might. 123 East Court Square, Decatur, 404-600-5649

Michael Lo and George Yu of Taiyo and Double Dragon (both in Decatur) are second-generation Asian Americans who know how to translate their family recipes for a mainstream audience. This time around, the two partners have hired chef Brian Owen, formerly of Kimball House, to serve an affluent suburban clientele hungry for steaks, oysters, and cocktails—with a few Korean twists. Noona (“big sister” in Korean), in Duluth’s bustling Parsons Alley, has an oyster happy hour, albeit one with a limited selection and some awkwardness in the shucking. The main reason to seek out the restaurant is the wood-fired grill, where luxury cuts such as perfectly trimmed dry-aged ribeyes and strips are expertly seared, then served sliced. A la carte smashed Yukon Gold potatoes with chimichurri, bracing collard greens with kimchi, and one of the best knife-cut steak tartares in the city join the likes of Korean white fish crudo with herb oil and chili paste and a soft farm egg on an almost-too-rich celery cream. 3550 W. Lawrenceville Street, Duluth, 678-404-5001

If you’re unaware of celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s nickname, you’re not alone. It hasn’t come up in his many television appearances, at his Athens restaurants Five & Ten and the National, or at his Atlanta spots Empire State South (no. 48 on our 50 Best Restaurants list) and Spiller Park. His latest venture, facing the Braves stadium in the new Omni Hotel at Battery Park, finally reveals this childhood secret. Poorly lit and too casual for the price, Achie’s offers a good mix of classic Acheson specialties—his famous Lowcountry Frogmore Stew rich in andouille and shrimp, his purely local shrimp and grits—and new imaginings, including a fun riff on oysters Rockefeller (topped with minced Kobe beef hot dogs instead of bacon) and a brilliantly rendered duck breast with boiled peanut hoppin’ John. Executive chef Alex Bolduc (not the hockey player), formerly of Five & Ten, is back from the Bay Area, where he served as chef at Robert Sinskey Vineyards. Most of the desserts have a Caribbean influence, and if the ugly, underbaked plantain tarte Tatin is an indication, you may want to skip them. 2625 Circle 75 Parkway, 678-567-7327

Genuine Pizza Phipps Plaza
Short rib pizza

Courtesy of Genuine Pizza

Genuine Pizza
Depending on whom you ask, Michael Schwartz is either the best chef in Miami or close to it. One of his concepts is this refined, Roman-style pizzeria with a new location near Phipps Plaza’s main entrance. Think quick-fired, tender, thin crusts, and elegant toppings such as rock shrimp with roasted lemon and manchego, slow-roasted pork with fig and fontina, or short rib with arugula, caramelized onion, and gruyere. The sleek decor is as appealing as the pies, and everything from the precious snacks (such as homemade ricotta with crisp focaccia hot from the oven) to purely Italian salads smacks of luxury and focused attention. 3500 Peachtree Road, 470-481-3883

Dixie Q
Chef Scott Serpas, who in 2009 opened Serpas True Food in Old Fourth Ward, now turns his attention to barbecue. Unlike his eponymous restaurant, Dixie Q has little to offer in the way of formal service or attractive decor; the sole reason to go is the fancy smoked meats. The Brookhaven spot covers all the bases: tender brisket, pulled pork (with a texture that varies visit-to-visit perhaps more than it should), housemade smoked sausage, gloriously goopy mac and cheese crafted with in-house pasta, red beans and rice that reflect the chef’s Louisiana heritage, craft beers aplenty, and, alas, barbecue bowls that mess a little too much with the classics. There are only three sauces, all thin and all good, with nary a reference to ketchup. 2514 Caldwell Road, Brookhaven, 404-228-1502

These appear in our April 2018 and June 2018 issues.