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Forks up, y’all: We’ll soon witness an unprecedented surge of restaurant openings in Atlanta. It’s about time.
It’s been a long road to glory for pasta in Atlanta. Without the large Italian population that blessed other American cities, we never had a community to teach us how to revere fragrant bowls of noodles.
Last week I caught up with Bruce Logue, who recently left his executive chef position at La Pietra Cucina, to chat about plans for his highly anticipated new restaurant, BoccaLuppo. Logue said that the new resto will feature a casual Italian-American menu that include some of the pasta dishes he made famous at the four-star La Pietra but at a lower price point. He is still locking down his location but it will be smaller and more centrally located with ample parking. And for all of his fans, BoccaLuppo should be up and running before the end of the year,if not sooner.Q: What will be the main differences between La Pietra and BoccaLupo in terms of menu and price point?BL: The only similarity to La Pietra will be the flavors and ingredients found in some of the food. Things like my Calabrese sausage and my Bolognese ragu will surely be at BoccaLupo. BoccaLupo will focus more on some of the Italian-American favorites that people already know and what makes those dishes great. My goal is to add to the vernacular of what is considered Italian-American cooking by using American made artisan products that would normally be imported from "the old country." Things like cured hams and salumi, Parmesan style cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes are now being produced at a very high level in the U.S. There are dairies in Georgia making mozzarella and burrata and other Italian cheeses as well as local farmers growing vibrant produce year round. Our country produces excellent wine and olive oil and our semolina is of the best in the world for making extruded pasta. These are some of the building blocks that we will use to achieve Italian-American flavor. I want people to connect deeply with the food whether it is on an intellectual level or just plain old "this tastes amazing" level. Another big difference will be the price point. We will be very creative in keeping our price point low. We want people to feel like they can drop in any time and enjoy a satisfying meal.
Last year, Richard Blais got back in the kitchen with the Spence, Fifth Group opened a sustainable seafood spot (Lure), and the Optimist was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire Magazine. Giovanni Di Palma drafted plans for a miniature Little Italy near Georgia Tech (see Bar Antico below), Shaun Doty got into the fast-casual chicken market with the opening of Bantam and Biddy, and numerous local chefs appeared on Chopped.