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Christiane Chronicles

The Christiane Chronicles: Restaurant parking nightmares, and Sobban’s impressive garden

The absolute worst part about my otherwise enviable job? Parking. Depending on where I go, I’m left to navigate wonky meters, spiral-of-death garages (Empire State South), ridiculously steep terrain (Bell Street Burritos in south Buckhead), and dark, suspicious lots (basically everywhere in Little Five Points and East Atlanta).

Pizza: Slice by Slice

Four of the best pizza slices in the city, from Varasano's, Don Antonio, Antico, and Varuni Napoli.
Giovanni Di Palma, antico pizza

Antico Pizza owner and the Dept. of Labor reach an agreement

At 6:38 p.m. on Monday evening I got an email from Tucker Berta, president of Liz Lapidus PR, which runs publicity (and occasionally interference) for Giovanni Di Palma, the owner of the insanely popular Antico Pizza and a man whose high regard for himself is the stuff of legend.
Giovanni Di Palma, antico pizza

Antico Pizza owner Di Palma fires back in labor case

A lawyer for Giovanni Di Palma, the Antico Pizza owner who’s accused of retaliating against employees he suspected of talking to federal Department of Labor investigators looking into his wage practices, has fired back at the government, condemning the department’s “outrageous tactics” and blasting the investigators’ “unsubstantiated” accusations.

Antico’s Giovanni Di Palma expands his empire, Bottega Luisa to open next weekend

Giovanni Di Palma—owner of Antico Pizza, Caffe Gio, and Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano—is opening his latest venture to family and friends this weekend. Located across from Antico, Bottega Luisa is an artisan Italian grocery selling authentic goods imported from Naples, including many of the ingredients Di Palma uses at Antico and Gio’s. Bottega Luisa will be open to the public next week.

Former Antico pizza-maker to open Varuni-Napoli in early April

The pizza-maker who broke off from Antico and started his own restaurant will open Varuni-Napoli on Monroe Drive in Midtown the first week in April. Owner Luca Varuni says the fast-casual restaurant, which awaits its final inspection, will offer pizza and Italian street food made with ingredients imported from Naples.

Aaron Paul’s Need for Speed and Antico Pizza

There’s a reason the 1968 Steve McQueen car chase classic Bullitt is flickering on the screen in the Need for Speed scenes shot at the Swan Drive-In in Blue Ridge last summer. The high-octane thrill ride in theaters today from first-time director and former stuntman Scott Waugh and starring Breaking Bad two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul and rapper/actor Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi is a breath-snatching homage to McQueen’s 60s and 70s racing flicks.

In food news: What you missed last week

Fry's Tex-Mex restaurant to be called Superica
Ford Fry—the chef behind the Optimist, No. 246, King Duke, and more—has named his Krog Street Market Tex-Mex spot Superica, reports Eater Atlanta. The name came from the words "super taqueria." The restaurant will open by early 2014.

Fire at Vine & Tap
Fire broke out at Vine & Tap, the Buckhead wine bar and small plates restaurant by Ian Mendelsohn, this week. Because of that, the grand opening—which was originally set for July—has been pushed back to late September.

HD1 to become FLIP Burger
HD1, the Poncey-Highland hot dog spot by chef Richard Blais, is now closed. The restaurant is being retrofitted as a FLIP Burger Boutique—another Blais creation—and will reopen in eight to ten weeks, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The new FLIP location will feature a rooftop patio. Select HD1 hot dogs will be added to the menu.

Giovanni di Palma’s Caffé Gio opens
Antico Pizza Napoletana founder Giovanni di Palma made great strides toward the completion of Piazza San Gennaro, his planned Westside neighborhood, last week with the opening of Caffe Gio, a gelateria and Neapolitan café. Adjacent to Antico, Caffe Gio serves “traditional Neapolitan street food,” including panini, salads, and chicken soup, Eater Atlanta reports. The gelato (ten flavors) is imported from Italy.

Dante Stephensen plans to auction off pirate ship décor
Dante Stephensen, founder and namesake of iconic fondue and jazz spot Dante’s Down the Hatch, has announced plans to auction off the restaurant’s equipment and decorations, reports the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Dante’s closed late last month after the land was sold to Atlantic Realty Partners and Behringer Harvard, who plan to build an apartment tower. Stephensen’s auction will take place at the restaurant on September 21, starting at 9 a.m. The $95 entry price includes food, drink, and live jazz.

Taria Camerino starts work at Miso Izakaya
Pastry chef and Sugar-Coated Radical founder Taria Camerino recently left Rocket Farms Restaurants (Ford Fry’s empire) and has joined forces with Guy Wong at Miso Izakaya, Creative Loafing reports. She is working on a Japanese-inspired dessert menu and will be creating some items for Yum Bunz as well.

Final Fork: Who made it to the ‘Elite Ate’?

It's time for the fourth round of our Final Fork contest, which brings us one step closer to determining Atlanta's favorite restaurant.

Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano not open quite yet

At the end of November, Giovanni Di Palma will open his second restaurant in Atlanta, Gio's Chicken Amalfitano. Di Palma's first restaurant, Antico Pizza, has been a genuine phenomenon in Atlanta's dining scene. Gio's is the first step in an ambitious piazza-styled development that Di Palma has planned for the area immediately surrounding Antico. We figure it's going to be a big deal. Here's the general idea via press release:

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