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First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside

posted on September 28, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside

It takes a lot for me to to jump off of my couch, throw on some clothes and speed over to a restaurant after settling in for the night. But that’s just what I did after getting a call from my friend (partner in crime and pizza freak), Kit Fenton, tonight proclaiming he’d just had “the best pizza in Atlanta.” I have no idea how Antico Pizza Napoletana flew under my (and everyone else’s) radar. But my first visit was a revelation.


Owner Giovanni Di Palma (a native of New York and Naples) is the kind of man who instantly wins your adoration. His enthusiasm and pure passion for true Naples style pizza is so infectious, I was thrown into a manic state of pizza lust the moment I entered the brand new Westside Pizzeria. Yes, lust. And anyone who wants to know where Enrico Liberato (the former pizzaiolo at Fritti) has disappeared to need not look any further.
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
Luca Varuni, Giovanni Di Palma and Enrico Liberato.

Is it completely irresponsible for someone who reviews restaurants on a semi-professional basis to say this spot is the real deal after just one visit where I chatted with the owner without the requisite veil of anonymity and ate in the kitchen while interviewing the staff? Completely. Hate me or love me–I’m all about full-disclosure when it comes to my readers. So, forgive my loss of control. There is so much to say about this place, but I’ll just give you my first impressions for now.

The ingredients are impeccable and the kitchen exceeds all the criteria for authentic pizza Margherita dictated by the Margherita Regina Associazione of Napoli. Check out the certificate that proves it:
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside

It sits next to this framed record of Di Palma’s grandfather’s arrival to Ellis Island.
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
Love it!

The three ovens were imported from Naples and reach temperatures up to 1000 degrees, which means the pizzas cook in 60 seconds or less.
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside

This was waiting for me when I pulled up:
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
The San Gennaro

Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
The Margherita D.O.P

It tasted just like Italy. The slightly sour crust is puffy–as it should be–so the ingredients have no where to go and are therefore cooked uniformly. This classic method–I think the Italians know a bit about architecture–ensures there is little sogginesss. The sauce is made with beautiful San Marzano tomatoes, the crust uses a special flour from the hometown of Di Palma’s family (a town the size of Inman Park) and a high quality Bufala mozzarella, which both Liberata and Di Palma still lament is just not the same as the kind you get delivered to your door by the farmer in Italy.
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
A selection of some of the ingredients

Luca Varuni runs the dessert area where impeccable cannoli (available in many flavors) are filled to order with a pitch-perfect ricotta they import from Italy.
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
A very bad picture of the cannoli after we attacked them.

Every order of crackly cannoli comes with a free espresso made the old-school way on the stove. Observe:
IMG_2136

Above the dessert area and cash-wrap is a Lichtenstein inspired banner with pictures of Di Palma’s son, Gian Luigi, demonstrating how to eat the pizza the correct way. Yes, I did complain about Varasano’s signage, but this is cuter:
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside

Gian Lugi is not just a pretty face. He can talk trash about his pizza skills versus another well-known Atlanta “pizza maker” and will be teaching pizza-making classes to other kids starting in a few weeks. He is also quite the pint-sized gent who refused to let me carry my order to my car alone.

More information to come on this new spot as it develops. But I have to say it has loads of promise. The “seating” is pretty much non-existent at this time (there is talk about having outdoor tables in the future), so be prepared to stand at the “bar” while you eat or take it to go. I would stand and eat if I were you.

The restaurant is located at 1093 Hemphill Avenue. Atlanta, GA. 30318. 404-724-2333. www.anticopizza.it.

It’s open on Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM until “the dough runs out” and Saturdays from noon until–you guessed it–“the dough runs out.”The pizzas start at about $15 depending on what you order. But they are so worth it. Run do not walk.

Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
I’ve got some videos from my visit that I will be posting as soon as I can figure out how to edit them. Stay tuned…

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60 comments

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: GrabMoL · September 28, 2009  6:38 PM

    Dear lord, that looks AMAZING. Damn if I don't want to change out of my PJs and go over there RIGHT NOW!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Sean · September 28, 2009  6:40 PM

    Until the dough runs out? You know it's serious stuff when a shortage in dough marks the closing time. Kinda far away from Athens so I'll have to hit this place up when I'm out for break. Thanks for the find!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Edward · September 28, 2009  6:46 PM

    Is that the space where Jaqbo Bakery used to be? It looks like it from the photo. The google maps link is somewhat inconclusive but I believe that's what I'm seeing.

    I used to live a block from there. Jaqbo was a regular stop, but not as regular as this place would have been if your pictures are any indication!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: biskuit · September 28, 2009  6:50 PM

    oh man, nice find! i may have to hit them up tomorrow.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · September 28, 2009  7:36 PM

    Edward: I do believe it is the same location. Sorry about the Google Maps link. It was acting wonky so I took it down.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: ross33 · September 28, 2009  8:27 PM

    Wow! I've been in Atlanta almost 20 years and have yet to find a good Sausage pizza(normally it's that sliced variety). My wait may be over…

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: hopeless foodie · September 28, 2009  8:48 PM

    Wow-the pizza looks amazing! Will definitely have to give this place a try.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 28, 2009  9:47 PM

    Google map wonky b/c zip is 30318.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Germaine · September 29, 2009  12:58 AM

    OMG!!
    As a New Yorker I am truly jealous! this place and the stories and the Photos are a revelation. The next time i'm in GA, I must get to athens!!! WOW!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Jasonmolinari · September 29, 2009  4:00 AM

    This looks SERIOUS. How long has he been open? How could we not know about a pizza place like this!!
    Thanks for the info.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  6:06 AM

    You did it again BG!!! I can't wait to try the pizza… looks incredible! – Freakshow.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: LGM · September 29, 2009  7:39 AM

    This is the absolute best pizza we have ever had! When we asked our little ones what they wanted for dinner…they said Giovanni's Pizza. 🙂
    We live an hour away, but my sweet husband is stopping by today to pick up some more. We can't wait to order online and have it shipped to the door. YUM!!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Deanna · September 29, 2009  9:05 AM

    They really need to get rid of the Flash movie on their home page that took two minutes to load and a minute or so to play! At least give me a chance to click past it and get to the information!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Chip Shoulder · September 29, 2009  9:31 AM

    Wow. So it's not "pure douchebaggery" to instruct someone on how to eat pizza, so long as the instructions are accompanied by a picture of a kid? Got it.

    In case anyone needs a reminder, here's BG just a few weeks ago:

    "I understand you may need to explain certain details of particular dining styles if we are taking about a churrascaria for instance. But do we really need to be told how to eat pizza??? I find it insulting and equally ridiculous that the signage seemingly indicates that eating the pizza with a knife and fork is taboo. Well, here is a little truth: This is NOT a New York street slice. You actually do need a knife and fork lest the inherent juiciness ruin your favorite outfit. Pure douchebaggery."

    I also think I spy garlic from a jar in that picture of the ingredients.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  9:52 AM

    chip

    if varasano's pizza didn't suck so bad, maybe you wouldn't have to come over here and cry like a little bitch

    the truth is that this pizza is four times better than varasano's will ever be

    please insert a rubik's cube up your tight ass

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · September 29, 2009  10:13 AM

    Dear Chip,

    The answer to your question is: yes, kids negate the douchebag factor. And I do believe I linked to my rant in my post but thanks for quoting me anyway.

    As long as we are asking questions, just wondering if you work for Jeff or are you Jeff himself?

    XOXO
    Jen

    P.S. Great name. Couldn't fit you better.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  10:51 AM

    Chip.

    I must join in here. I have been eating G's pizza for three years now and it is as real as it get!. Don't be sad. No one else seems to be.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  11:52 AM

    It looks like this pizza is take out only. Does it survive the drive home or is it a eat now Varasano's type?

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  11:59 AM

    I drove by today and there were people knocking on the door trying to get in even though they don't open til 4:00. I can't wait to try it.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  11:59 AM

    it's not like you can fold JV's za slices anyway. they flop around like a flaccid member

    it's like trying to fold a wet wash cloth

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Chip Shoulder · September 29, 2009  12:04 PM

    BG-

    I tried to reply earlier, but for some reason it hasn't posted. To your question, no, I'm not Varasano, nor do I have any connection whatsoever to that restaurant or its namesake. I haven't even been there, though I'm sure I'll make it some time. I was simply interested in juxtaposing your earlier rant, which I found unfair (as I did all the pile-on comments), with your new contrary position. Points to you for linking to your earlier post though. I'm still not sure what to make of the change of heart – I guess an invite into the kitchen does wonders for one's aspect.

    To anon's point- I'm not "crying like a little bitch." I'm just hoping for a little evenhandedness. I'm sure the pizza at this new place is good, and I'll try it when I'm on the westside next.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  12:57 PM

    Listening to people in Atlanta bitch about Pizza is like listening to New Yorkers cry about who makes the best grits.

    All of you just shut the hell up!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · September 29, 2009  1:06 PM

    Chip:

    Let me explain myself since you have never been to Varasano's. Well before the opening, most of Atlanta was hit over the head with hype about how great the man and his pizza were. Jeff touted his methodology as superior and even bashed many existing pizzerias in his self-promotion. When the restaurant opened, diners quickly realized Jeff wasn't cooking the pizzas. And the pizzas were woefully inconsistent. Furthermore, every single time I visited the restaurant, the servers went on and on about Jeff's accomplishments. It got very tiring and made the entire dining experience one of dread instead of pleasure. I don't like ego served with my food. The table tents were just the last straw.

    This new spot did no such preopening press. The guys are incredibly humble, friendly, passionate and the owner is actually making the pizza. So, I can forgive a cute little colorful sign starring the guy's son.

    I hope that helps you understand my reasoning.

    You should try both regardless as my opinion is only one of many.

    Jen

    P.S. No idea why your other comment didn't go through. I get an email for each one and only saw the two that posted.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Amy · September 29, 2009  1:40 PM

    Jen,
    Your spite for Varasano's in your comments makes it seem like you were stood up on a date by Jeff himself. Although I agree with you that Jeff's ego, marketing tactics, and instructions on how to eat a pizza don't bode well for my dining experience, in my opinion, the pizza wars should be solely about the pizza. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to trying out this pizza- hope it lives up to the hype you certainly are creating.

    And Di Palma, if you are reading these comments, your website takes far too long to load.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 29, 2009  2:50 PM

    Eating the Margherita right now with wife and daughter (drove by after work..read this review today). Yes, this is the best pizza in Atlanta. On par if not better than Luzzo's in NYC. Finally, a proper pizza place. No pretentiousness like Varasanos or Fritti. The pizza does the talking. Delicious.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: TL · September 29, 2009  6:33 PM

    Anon #18 –

    The pizza holds up wonderfully on the way home!

    Chip –

    The "instructions" are more of a decoration, art that's on the wall, not directions. That's a big distinction in my book.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: DMAC · September 30, 2009  4:41 AM

    The Best Pizza in ATL is an understatement. I believe the best in the USA would be the more appropriate title for ANTICO. If you have doubts, go try it and see for yourself. I did.

    DMAC

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Joey · September 30, 2009  5:09 AM

    I couldn't sleep last night and decided to search for any new eateries. I looked at BG and was I surprised! This new pizza place called Antico llooks incredible. My search for the perfect pizza in Atl might finally be over. I'm going to Antico to find out for myself today. Tune in tomorrow for my review.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 30, 2009  5:47 AM

    Whoa…this place was hoppin' last nite.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: sleepless · September 30, 2009  5:50 AM

    I had the San Gennaro…truly the best pizza in the history of ATL!!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Sean · September 30, 2009  6:28 AM

    yum stopped by last night – they crank that shit out! can't wait to go back. thanks for the heads up Jen!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Jay · September 30, 2009  6:57 AM

    People need to relax, it's just an opinion (albeit a very well respected one). She's allowed to have whatever opinion she wants and we're free to disagree with it. I can't believe how serious people get about this stuff. I appreciate the find and am excited to try this place.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 30, 2009  7:22 AM

    I ate the pizza last night and it is truly the best pizza ive ever had! The place was slammed and rightfully so. Cant wait to eat Antico again!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 30, 2009  7:26 AM

    Best pizza in ATL for sure! Ate there last night and i will definately be eating there very often.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 30, 2009  4:31 PM

    I have a new restaurant. I would like to pay for an "advertorial" like Antico. Please contact me with pricing and timing.

    Thanks.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · September 30, 2009  6:42 PM

    I went tonight and it is the best pizza I've had in the city. The owner is super nice too. We couldn't even wait and ate our pizzas on the little strip of grass right outside the restaurant. This is one of those places that I would still go to even if I lived in a truly amazing food city (but the find is even more sweet in Atlanta).

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: I regret nothing · October 1, 2009  10:23 AM

    I rushed to Anitco as soon as I read this review. I must say that all of these raves woefully understate the importance of this pizza.

    I ordered a margherita (my test pizza for gauging the quality of a pizza joint). I decided not to wait and ate it in my car. Warning – if you go this route, make sure to get extra napkins. Upon taking my first bite, I felt every synapse in my brain firing simultaneously, sensed my blood pressure rapidly racing upward, and began convulsing in an unrestrained delicious pizza-induced seizure. This lasted for 37 seconds, at which point my head literally exploded.

    I am dead now, and my car is a mess. I realized the extra napkins would have come in handy as my disembodied soul watched my poor wife try to clean off the our Camry's dashboard.

    It was so worth it though. Antico is not simply the best pizza in Atlanta as BG belives, nor is it as someone noted above, the best pizza in the USA. And it is so much more even than the best pizza in the entire world. It is the best THING that has ever existed: one bite delivers an experience so profound, so majestic, that it catapults you clean through the walls of reality until you're gazing into the face of god. and then your head explodes. Thanks for the tip, BG!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 1, 2009  11:06 AM

    Pizza vs. Pizza….Antico is Varasano's wet dream. It's no comparision. Varasano's is pretty god awful with its super sour crust. This talk though, about Antico being the best in the US…I wouldn't quite go there yet. Luzzo's, Una Pizza in NYC…or Bianco in Phoenix are as close to perfection as you get. This is not to put down Antico, it is clearly one of the better ones, just not the best. After all of the Varasano's hype in this town, I'm so glad that people will finally get to taste a real pie, way to go Antico!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 2, 2009  1:47 AM

    It is indeed great pizza. Had it last night. Some of the best around… if you don't mind eating in your car in the tiny 5-car parking lot.
    Sorry if I sound negative, but this kind of pizza doesn't travel well and it is incredibly expensive for the GA Tech neighborhood it's in. Then need to find a way to serve you there or their days are truley numbered, no matter how good it is.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · October 2, 2009  4:24 AM

    They'll serve the pizza on a sheet pan you eat off at the counter.

    The pizza is pricier, but you are paying for the quality of the ingredients.

    I do have some concerns about their business model as the pizza does not stay crisp on the drive home. But we tried reheating it in the oven last night and it came back to life remarkably well.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 2, 2009  4:47 AM

    Eat it in your car, eat it on the curb, eat it at the counter, eat it on the grass, eat it in the small parking lot…who cares? This za is so good I'm sure Antico will eventually make allowances for their sure-to-be ever-expanding cosmic popularity.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 2, 2009  1:12 PM

    If they are eager for patrons to eat the pizza somewhere other than their establishment then they can be the first one around to offer pizza delivery in the home. I dont think anyone has ever thought to do that before…

    There are like 10 places in NYC that offer pizza just like this—and they all have figured out how to put out tables and chairs. These guys should do the same.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: TechStudent · October 4, 2009  3:09 PM

    I'm a Georgia Tech student that has fallen in love with Neapolitan pizza after working in DC and New York.

    When I returned to Atlanta this semester I immediately set out to find more of the pizza that I have grown to love. The fact is I enjoyed the pizza at Varasano's. I enjoyed the sauce on the pizzas at Fritti (although not the crust).

    And now, I look forward to trying this pizza. This sure looks like it will be worth the one block walk from my dorm room. I'll be sure to write up my findings at some point.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: TechStudent · October 5, 2009  4:29 PM

    Ok – ran by tonight with a friend. This place is amazing.

    1. The cooks are talkative and amiable

    2. The pizza is great: soft, fluffy dough; light, fresh tomato sauce; crisp underside that didn't get soggy

    3. The experience… Standing around the table and talking to the other pizza loving patrons was great!

    I'll be back here again… probably within the week.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 6, 2009  5:48 AM

    The price of the Margherita has increased from $15 to $17.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: Anonymous · October 8, 2009  7:42 AM

    Could Antico Pizza replace my beloved Rosa's!

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: hopeless foodie · October 10, 2009  1:38 PM

    "The pizza is pricier, but you are paying for the quality of the ingredients."

    Amen, BG. I finally had the chance to stop by Antico this afternoon. I won't gripe about the price because in my opinion it's worth it (and you will certainly taste the difference). The pizza here is no joke (love the Margherita D.O.P.), and don't get me started on the calzoni. While it is true that the pizza doesn't travel well (best eaten fresh from the Antico oven), a reheated slice is still pretty tasty in my opinion.

    Best pizza in Atlanta? Well, it's certainly the best pizza I've ever had in this city.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: LGM · October 16, 2009  8:00 AM

    Great job Antico! The new seating is perfect. I like the idea of community and family, not to mention, the awesome pizza. Now, we just need a store closer to our home. LGM:)

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: LGM · October 16, 2009  8:29 AM

    I forgot to mention they are now open for lunch if you are in the area…craving good pizza.

  • Re: First Impression: Antico Pizza Napoletana: Westside
    posted by: LGM · October 16, 2009  8:51 AM

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