Music City Mike has always loved Atlanta. And living just 3 ½ hours away has made ATL a frequent destination for me to see bands whose tour is skipping Nashville (Radiohead, Springsteen and Nick Lowe so far this year), an occasional Braves game and also to take my lovely wife, Mrs. Sweetie Pie, for a getaway weekend to shop and dine. And early on, before I became the Snob, I was fortunate enough to discover the wonders of Fellini’s Pizza which I have gone back to enjoy many times over.
Recently, Music City Mike made his annual trek to the great outdoor concert series at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to see Neko Case. Mrs. Pie came along and the two of us holed up in Buckhead for a fun weekend in which the Snob managed to incorporate four pizza stops. Outside of getting to revisit Fellini’s with this piece in mind, my internet-research destination site was Mama’s Pizza in nearby Alpharetta. Sadly, I never found myself close enough and had to save it for a future trip.
My first encounter was while driving down Piedmont Road to the Botanical Gardens when I did a drive-by stop after seeing a sign for Gino’s NY Pizza Bar run by “Two Guys from Brooklyn.” Upon entering I was greeted by a host and found that I also had to be seated and go through a waiter just to get a slice – not a Snob-friendly method of delivery. It was also obvious that this place was slightly upscale and that it also served as a bar destination. However, the $2.75 slice I ordered had a classic look and wasn’t too bad at all. The front point of the slice did flop over when I picked it up which was a foreshadowing to the fact that it had a bit too much cheese and was just a tad undercooked. And although the sauce was slightly off the standard and the crust tasted a bit flakey, the slice was one that I’d try again.
PIZZA SNOB RATING *** Better than Dominos
Gino’s NY Pizza Bar
1740 Cheshire Bridge Rd,
Atlanta, GA 30324
Another chance encounter that I had during my weekend was a drive-by in Buckhead where I pleasantly happened upon Piu Bello Pizzeria Restaurant. It was late in the evening and I had to get Mrs. Pie back to the hotel, so I grabbed a $2.75 slice to go which appeared to be one that had been sitting out for awhile. I was quite pleased to see how during the reheat the cook checked the bottom of the slice to see how it was doing. And when I got back to my hotel room, I opened my small white pizza box to soon experience a great NY slice! I’d like to give these guys another chance before going overboard with my rating as sometimes just being away from the oven for awhile has a way of making things settle nicely for a great slice. But the cheese and crust on this were excellent and it had a nice slight touch of oil. It may have been a bit light on the dough though and could have used a touch more of oregano. But this was one that was really worth my effort and might just be in for a rating upgrade after I revisit to try a fresh one.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working On A Good Thing
Piu Bello Pizzeria Restaurant
Piedmont Peachtree Crossing
3330 Piedmont Road, Ste 27A
(Disco Kroger Plaza)
Atlanta, GA 30305
But Atlanta pizza has for me always been (and may always be) Fellini’s Pizza. As I said, I have been enjoying their great pie for several years and on this trip managed to visit two of their seven locations, making it to both the Buckhead and Ponce de Leon joints. Outside of the pie, what also makes Fellini’s so special is their great outdoor dining areas and the late hours until 2am. It’s just a hip place to be in ATL after a night out on the town.
My first trip was a late night one to Buckhead. Rasta karma was with me as I left the car hearing Bob Marley on the great local station DAVE-FM 92.9 (which I just sadly learned is switching to sports talk) only to get a Marley photo as my table placard. My second trip was on the next day while out shopping with Mrs. Pie when I grabbed a lunch time slice at Ponce de Leon. As for the locations, while the Buckhead spot on a Peachtree Rd. corner is a great place to hang, I must confess that I prefer my indoor Fellini’s eating at Ponce where the place comes across as being much cleaner and neater. It’s the place I’d take Mrs. Pie to.
And as expected, both slices (a good buy at only $2.05 a pop) were great as always. These guys know how to do it right. The sauce and cheese are just about perfect and the crust is well-cooked and nice and chewy. I did have a bad experience a few years ago in Buckhead when a got a whole pie that was severely undercooked. I simply should have sent back. Chalking it up to an employee slip, I forgave them and have not regretted it since. Also on the down side, just coming off of my recent NY trip, I found the pie in both places to be a bit oilier than I thought that it should be. In fact, I took the opportunity to let some of it drain off before I ate my slices. Finally, my biggest complaint is the fact that they show little respect for tradition by serving their slices with a knife and fork! My survey saw that it was about half and half as to those who used them and those who did not. But nonetheless, why put that idea in anyone’s head; especially when you serve a slice as great as they do.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** Near Perfection
2809 Peachtree Rd.
PONCE DE LEON
909 Ponce de Leon Ave.