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December 20, 2011

ATL Eats Beat: Dec. 2011

The best bars, Naples pizza, bubbly and Indian cuisine are on the menu

By Nancy Staab

Three ATL watering holes make America’s Best Bars list, two new Napoletana pizza joints open shop, bubble bars add fizz to the holidays—-plus a seductive new Indian eatery for the New Year!

Double Beef Patty at Serpas Double Beef Patty at Serpas

Kudos to Holeman & Finch, Leon’s Full Service and The Sound Table for making Food & Wine magazine’s list of “50 Best Bars in America.” Holeman & Finch was called out for its Southern-inspired cocktails, while Leon’s got props for making its own liquers and cocktail syrups, plus fun bar snacks. The Sound Table was noted for the creative organization of its drink list and its transformation into a dance club late night.

What Now Atlanta has reported that Dancing Goats Coffee Bar is the first confirmed tenant for the new Ponce City Market property, housed in the old City Hall East building and being re-developed by Jamestown Properties (the firm behind Chelsea Market and White Provision in Westside). However, a recent New York Times article also quoted top toque Anne Quatrano, who said she planned to open a po-boy shop in the space! And will Jay Swift bring his proposed 4th and Swift take-out lunch business to his Ponce City Market neighbor? Stay tuned…as more revelations about food hall vendors and full-fledged restaurants are announced in the future.

Tartufo Pizza Tartufo Pizza

The craze for Napoletana pizza seems to have reached a fever pitch. First there was Fritti, then Varasano’s, Antico Pizza and Zero Napoletana, now two new Buckhead spots are flaunting their Naples pizza cred with brick ovens and the “wet,” thin, charred crust pizzas favored in pizza’s birthplace of Naples, Italy. The owners of fine dining Mediterranean spot La Fourchette have opened the casual pizza place Tartufo right next door. Of course they offer the traditional pizza marghertia with San Marzano sauce, but also a signature Tartufo pie with truffle oil. And at nearby Fuoco di Napoli on Pharr Road, they boast that their pies are certified by Pizzaioli Napolitani Associati. With former Fritti and Antico Pizza piazzaioli Enrico Liberato at the helm of the brick pizza oven, we are sure these pies are prize-worthy. Stay tuned for further updates on these latest ‘za purveyors.

Kerala fried chicken Kerala fried chicken

We are excited about the prospects of a serious Indian restaurant, the poetically-named Cardamon Hill set to open Jan. 5 at 1700 Northside Drive. This restaurant should fill a gap in Atlanta’s ethnic fine dining roster. Chef and owner Asha Gomez has been perfecting her culinary craft with the acclaimed Spice Route Supper Club for the past year or more and now will bring her regional Indian cuisine from Kerala, the Southwest corner of India, to her new spot. Situated along the spice route, Kerala cuisine obviously borrows from many spices and cultures and is lush with staples like coconut and seafood. Some highlights of the menu will include: Gomez’s famed Kerala-style fried chicken; masala-rubbed kingfish in roasted banana leaf with cardamom-scented plantains; pork vindaloo with appam ( pork tenderloin and pork belly slow-cooked in a vinegar-tinged sauce); sweet potato verka with mustard seeds and curry leaves; and battered goat chops with mint, cilantro and green chile. Cardamon Hill will serve lunch and dinner daily except Sundays and will also offer desserts, a curated wine list, cocktails and house-made Chai. Visit www.cardamonhill.net for more info.

The national Celebrity Chef Tour is coming to Atlanta in Feb. and parking at Park 75 at the Four Seasons. On the celeb chef roster: Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville; James Lewis of Bettola in Birmingham; John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford MS; Bob Waggoner TV host of U Cook with Chef Bob; Josh Feathers of Blackberry Farm TN; Hugh Acheson of Empire State South; chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75 and guest pastry chef Andre Livtin, perhaps giving a preview of what she has in store for her new gig at The Spence, Richard Blais’ new American resto, in early 2012. The celeb chefs will be feted at a cocktail party on Feb. 3 ($50 per person) and will cook a collaborative, multi-course dinner on Feb. 4 ($140 per person). For tickets call 404.253. 3840. There’s a discount with purchase by Visa Signature card.

Speaking of Four Seasons, the Park 75 Lounge is getting into the festive holiday spirit with “Bubbles and Caviar” on offer from 5-7PM through the month of December. In addition to glasses of Poema Cava and Tattinger Brut Champagne and three kinds of premium American caviar by the ounce, you can also order up a specialty caviar pizzetta. Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead now boasts a fun make-you-own Bubbly Bar at their signature Sunday brunch. Pour the champagne and then customize into a Kir Royale, Bellini or whatever your heart desires with various liquers, fruit juices, berries, sugar cubes and bitters.  At The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta downtown, the mood is a little sassier with paired naughty and nice cocktails depending on your mood. The nicey-pie Sugar Plum is made with acai blueberry vodka, Chambord and a splash of cranberry, pomegranate and plum juices; while the Naughty Toddy consists of Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon, hot orange spice and cinnamon and garnishes with bourbon sugar cubes. While there, nosh on chef Andy Lintherland’s plummy seasonal treats: baked camembert encroute with winter spiced plum preserves, chocolate plum pops or eggnog caramel popcorn with salty choco´pecans.

Morningside just got its own burger boutique. Burger Tap offers a slew of burgers made from a custom blend of brisket, chuck and short rib, but our bets are on the Truffle version (Gruyere cheese, garlic aioli, crispy onions and truffle glaze). 25 beers on draft, and plenty of fried sides complete the picture. And at Serpas, chef Scott Serpa is capitalizing on his popular Big Papa’s single beef patty but hosting Tuesday “Patty and Pint Nights” at his O4W resto. Get a burger, fries and cold draft for $10 at the bar or chef’s counter, or customize it with a slew of $1 or $2 toppings like crispy pork belly, roasted green chiles or green tomato jam. We predict that the bar is suddenly going to get a lot buzzier on Tuesdays.