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Amuse-Bouche:

May 31, 2011

A Preview of No. 246

Will it be amore for Ford Fry and Drew Belline’s rustic-chic new eatery?

By Nancy Staab

The Decatur eatery, slated to open mid July, will emphasize “locally sourced ingredients, simple preparations, wood-fired cooking…and Italian-inspired dishes with California influences,” says Ford Fry.

The soon-to-open eatery promises to be one of the year's most romantic restaurant openings. Not romantic in the sense of starchy white tablecloths, uptight patrons and swooning violins. Rather, seasonal Italian food with echoes of San Francisco's A 16, which served as the Ur inspiration for this one.Think: intimate setting, carafes of traditional Italian wines or sparkling apertifs, zinc-top café tables, and the scent of burning oak wood wafting through the space courtesy of the wood-burning Acunto oven imported from Naples. There will also be a charming herb garden out back and deck seating beneath twinkling white fairy lights.  Add in a dream team that includes owner/executive chef Ford Fry (JCT. Kitchen), chef Drew Belline (Craft NYC, Quinones, Floataway Café), beverage director/mixologist Lara Creasy (JCT. Kitchen) and interior designer Smith Hanes (Serenbe, JCT. Kitchen, Bella Cucina) for a fail-safe recipe for restaurant success. 

Slated to open July 11,  No. 246 will give as much love to vegetables and verdure as to the meat. On the “nouveau-rustico” menu:  a charred octopus starter with smokey potatoes, pickled celery and chili-lemon vinaigrette; dishes such as tortelloni with hand-foraged local mushrooms or Meyer lemon and sheeps' milk ricotta angolotti with parmesan, and a range of wood-fired pizzas on the cutely labeled “flour and water” portion of the menu. Feast on “from the hearth” entrée items such as steak, crispy suckling pig or roasted fish and “finish” with a chocolate tart with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil or a ricotta zeppoli with warm chocolate and sour cherry.

Linger over an espresso made with a state-of-the-art La Marzocco espresso machine, while listening to live music on Saturdays and Sundays. The lunch menu is equally fresh and tantalizing, whether crispy chicken paillard with rocket, Parmesan and lemon dressing or a more substantial porchetta sandwhich with Fontina and Calabrian chile conserve. Save energy for the backyard shuffleboard. Nota Bene: True foodies will want to book the four-top chef's table in the open kitchen. 129 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, www.no246.com.