Hospital: WellStar Atlanta Medical Center
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Hospitals: Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown
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Office: Mid-Atlanta Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates
Office: Modern Dental
Even though O4W Pizza closed its namesake Old Fourth Ward location more than a year ago, the sting from the pizzeria’s schlep to the suburbs never truly went away for ITP-ers. The Duluth location, which opened last September, is bigger and in many ways better than the original—owner Anthony Spina perfected his pizza-making and added pastas, appetizers, and salads to the menu. But the convenience of having the Grandma Pie in your backyard is hard to beat.
Pine no longer—Spina is bringing his pizza back to Old Fourth Ward in mid-2018.
Spina has partnered with Billy Streck, of Hampton + Hudson and Cypress Street Pint + Plate, to open a yet-to-be-named restaurant and bar in Studioplex’s new phase at 659 Auburn Avenue Northeast. Streck is a New York native with more than 20 years of experience in the industry (not to mention, he grew up in his family’s pizzeria). The new restaurant will not be a pizzeria alone, but more of a hybrid according to Streck. “The exciting thing about Anthony and I, we’re doing a collaboration project. So we wanted to combine our expertise into one spot.”
“It’ll be similar to what I’m doing out in Duluth, but a little different,” Spina says. “We’re playing around with some Italian dishes and making it more like gastro pub. I’ve got like ten pages of [possible dishes] right now and I’m going back and forth trying to figure out what I want to choose.”
Spina’s pizza is still a big part of the menu. The new restaurant, which will be open for lunch and dinner, will serve the top-selling rectangular pies (such as the Grandma and the Detroit) from O4W Pizza, along with many other Italian sandwiches, pastas, and salads. The restaurant will also have vegan and gluten-free options (including a gluten-free Grandma Pie) in addition to a full beverage and bar program. Everything from the mozzarella to the bread will be made from scratch. And many of the menu items will be portable so that diners can take them to-go for a picnic on the nearby BeltLine.
Atlanta design studio Smith Hanes is on board to build out the restaurant and bar, which will face the Eastside Trail. Streck and Spina say they want the place to feel open, inviting, and communal. Early designs include banquette seating and an open kitchen where you can watch Spina at work.
Spina has racked up accolade after accolade for his pizza since he first debuted on Irwin Street in January 2015 (our Best New Restaurants and Best of Atlanta designations are just a few among them), and Strek has shown he knows how to build neighborhood restaurants where people want to hang out. (The fire pit at Cypress Street remains one of the best places to spend fall evening.) This new spot is sure to be one of the most anticipated openings of 2018.
An Italian and Latin-influenced neighborhood bistro called Il Gusto Bistro will open in the Old Fourth Ward one year from now. Currently home to the Lantern House (589 Ralph McGill Boulevard), the property will be renovated, and the owner, George DeMeglio, will move in next door.
Il Gusto will serve dinner, and eventually lunch (paninis!), using fresh, seasonal ingredients. For dinner, pasta entrees will cost less than $15, while protein-based dishes will cost less than $18. No executive chef has been named, but DeMeglio has hired Bruce Logue of BoccaLupo and Jeff Russell of Great Northern Pasta Co. as consultants. He shared his plans below.
You don’t come from the hospitality industry, so how did you decide to open a restaurant?
Five years ago, I was thinking about what I would do next in life. I’ve worked in different industries—tech, construction, and economics—usually for someone else. I was ready to do something for myself. I have plenty of background in food as a foodie but none in the business.
Without the restaurant experience, how will you ensure Il Gusto is a success?
As an operations person, I feel comfortable with that side of things. I identified my weaknesses: I need an executive chef who can manage the kitchen and suppliers, and I need to refine my hospitality skills. Bruce Logue has been guiding me, helping me understand the design side, the kitchen side, and making sure what is put into place will work. Another friend, Jeff Russell, is helping me with pasta equipment and recipes. I’ve been reading a lot of Danny Meyer as inspiration on what to focus on as front of house.
What items do you envision on Il Gusto’s menu?
The dinner menu will be anchored by fresh pasta and the most amazing gluten-free pasta you’ve ever had, along with starches common in Italian cuisine, like faro and cannellini beans. We’ll use those to deliver seasonal ingredients like mushrooms. We’ll have your standard sauces (marinara, Bolognese), and also Northern Italian olive oil-based sauces with garlic, fresh herbs.
Roasted vegetables. I want to be a neighborhood restaurant—a place people will feel comfortable coming on a regular basis not only on their wallet but also on their belt.
For the protein: seafood will primarily be shellfish with fresh fish served as specials. Of course there will be chicken and pork. The beef will be mostly secondary cuts of meat like flank steaks and strip steaks. The greens will be organic. It’s not going to be a health food restaurant, but I want to have a healthy menu.
This sounds pretty Italian. How will the Latin influences be incorporated?
I love the way Latins deliver their proteins.—the chimichurri sauces, the Argentinian barbecue style of cooking. I am looking for a chef who has similar aspirations in that area. What is Italian if not Latin? I consider it different branches on the same tree.
What will the bar scene be like?
We’ll have a strong cocktail program—look at Frontera Grill in Chicago as an example—but my philosophy is ‘keep it simple and execute well.’ We’ll probably just start with a bartender and find someone who can grow into a bar manager. I’ll play a significant role in crafting the drink menu. We’ll have four beers on tap, and some gluten-free beer and cider. The wine menu will be moderate with a focus on carafes.
What’s your plan for the atmosphere? Will the lanterns be sticking around?
As much as I love the Lantern House, it’s going to echo more of the history of the neighborhood. The homes were built in the 1930s, Depression era. The restaurant will have an industrial feel that’s simple, clean, and feels traditional, like it’s been there a long time. We’ll have a handcrafted wooden bar and a little public art piece in the front. I’m working with Art on the [Atlanta] BeltLine since I am in the BeltLine overlay. I believe when you get great materials and treat them well, they shine.
Perched at the corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway in the base of the Tribute Lofts, Condesa attracts a diverse clientele all day long. Try a pour-over brewed in a Chemex over the latest shipment of Counter Culture beans. Baristas don the vests, ties, and suspenders of natty bartenders, and in fact, these fellows also mix cocktails (and offer a short list of wines and craft beers). Java gives way to Hemingway daiquiris as the sun sets.
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
This paved, mostly shaded route is part of the PATH Foundation’s Stone Mountain Trail—which extends nineteen miles from Downtown to Stone Mountain Park—and offers a glimpse of the city without the crowds of the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. Gently rolling hills hold the interest of more experienced runners without intimidating beginners. Park at the MLK historic site for an out-and-back through the Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and Candler Park; as you crest the final hill on the return, the sight of Downtown filling the horizon will leave you as breathless as your run.