Cucina Asellina

The second Atlanta restaurant from the One Group, the New York–based company that launched STK (“the steakhouse for women”), exhibits a much calmer personality than its larger sibling next door. Bronze tones flatter the square, open room, and soft light that reflects off white oak planks lining the upper walls creates a soothing sense of perpetual twilight.

Unlike STK’s chophouse stylings, Asellina’s menu of Italian American pleasers is moderately priced and refreshingly uncontrived. An appetizer called “cauliflower emulsion” turns out to be a piquant, airy soup, crowned with crabmeat and mint oil. Fresh marjoram, a sadly underused herb, adds rewarding pungency to fried calamari.

Among five pastas, the pappardelle with mushrooms and homemade sausage ably sates red sauce–joint cravings. Thin, small pizzas won’t give places like Antico or Varasano’s any competition, but they make for a compelling snack alongside your first round of beverages. And speaking of drinks, concentrate on a glass or bottle from the deftly edited wine list. The lightweight cocktails, as at STK, are too sweet.