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Atlanta Restaurant News

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The team of Nicholas Niespodziani, Peter Olson and chef Nick Melvin have opened Venkman’s in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. New restaurateurs Niespodziani and Olson are co-front men of the group Yacht Rock Revue and founders of PleaseRock. Local chef Melvin is founder of Doux South Pickles, a line of classic Southern pickled vegetables sold at local farmers markets and in gourmet shops. Dishes such as cast-iron-cooked fried chicken with pickled mustards reflect his interest in the process. The restaurant occupies the former NuGrape Soda Factory overlooking Ponce City Market and Old Fourth Ward Park, and promises to offer eclectic live music and creative comfort food under one roof. Designed by local architecture firm ai3, responsible for designing many of the city's edgier establishments, Venkman’s aesthetic is part “vintage lounges” and features an open kitchen with chef table seating. Venkman's, 740 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30312, 470-225-6162.
Villaggio Gastro Italian has opened in Decatur Grazie Hospitality Group, which also owns Baraonda, a long-popular Italian restaurant in Midtown, has brought its talents to Decatur. Taking over a former Villagio restaurant, the team started by spelling Villaggio in the sign and adding the words "Gastro Italian" to the name. Finding authentic dishes a hard sell in the neighborhood, the menu at Villaggio Gastro Italian has shifted back to a more Americanized set of offerings --- veal Marsala, and chicken Parmigiano for instance --- but there is grilled octopus, lasagna with besciamella sauce and braciole di manzo to appeal to those seeking an authentic experience. The wine list is happily heavy on Italian selections, especially among the reds, with many by the glass. Dinner Mon.-Sat., Brunch Sun. Villaggio Gastro Italian, 1355 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, 404-235-0620.
Reservations and a photo ID will be required to dine at the new Restaurant 356 at the Porsche Experience Center. The German automaker's North American headquarters is near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. From its perch on the second floor of the building, the restaurant offers panoramic views of the airport and the 1.2-mile driver development track. Expect a seasonal, regional menu. The space offers multiple options for private and semi-private events, a feature that's sure to attract a good crowd. Lunch & Dinner Tues.-Sat. Restaurant 356, Porsche Experience Center, 1 Porsche Dr., Atlanta, GA 30354, 770-290-4356.
Little Trouble, a Victory Brands project, opened August 6, 2015, beneath Ford Fry's Restaurant Marcel, which replaced Abattoir in the White Provision Building. Victory Brands includes Victory Sandwich Shop in Decatur and Inman Park as well as Paper Plane (next to the Decatur Victory Sandwich Shop). Little Trouble opens from 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Although closing times Monday through Thursday are not yet defined, Little Trouble will definitely be busy Friday and Saturday when it pours to 2:30 a.m. The menu of bar bites includes such Asian-inspired morsels as meats on skewers, noodle dishes, dumplings and steamed buns. Melissa Allen of Paper Plane is in charge of the kitchen, and has been trialing many of the dishes at Paper Plane. Ari Form and Drew Gillespie, formerly at Bocado and Empire State South, respectively, handle the bar. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Little Trouble, White Provision Building, 1170 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-500-4737.
Dave DeFeo and Tim Ensor (Leon's Full Service, Brick Store Pub) partnered with Lawson Wright to open My Parents’ Basement. The new business occupies the former James Joyce, a handsome Neo-Tudor building that's been empty for about three years, and launches with Tim Hastings as executive chef. The location, around the corner from Pine Street Market, enables the kitchen to dip into the artisanal charcuterie that comes from the staff of Rusty Bowers' operation, noted for its bacon and salumi. In addition to brews --- especially from Avondale Estates' own Wild Heaven brewery --- and tavern fare founded on seasonally available local ingredients, the place is home to classic and antique comics. My Parents’ Basement, 22 N. Avondale Rd., Avondale Estates, GA 30002, 404-292-4607.
Tavernpointe has opened in Atlanta Seven Lamps executive chef/owner Drew Van Leuvan and restaurateur Billy Streck (Grain, Cypress Street Pint & Plate) introduce Tavernpointe, a neighborhood restaurant in Atlanta's Midtown. Conor O’Reilly, previously sous chef at Seven Lamps, is chef de cuisine. Located in the space formerly occupied by MidCity Cuisine, La Pietra Cucina and LPC most recently, where Peachtree and Spring Streets meet (known as Pershing Point to longtime Atlantans), Tavernpointe features American cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Joined by Seven Lamps' mixologist Madison Burch, who created the craft cocktail menu, chef Van Leuvan and his team draw inspiration from common 19th-century tavern themes. Designed to be family-friendly, the menu offers items to appeal to children and it invites sharing. Look for Peruvian-style chicken, tacos, bar snacks, and dishes with bold flavors from the chilies favored by chef Van Leuvan. Redesigned to feature steel, repurposed pine from a Georgia warehouse and reclaimed brick from a South Carolina textile mill, Tavernpointe’s interior is layered with industrial influences. Expect honey-colored floors, sanded down to complement the furniture and soften the space, and a custom bar with a floating wood ceiling. Tavernpointe, Peachtree Point, 1545 Peachtree St. NE, Ste. 101, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404-549-3954.
Lacking a Facebook page or a website, J&J Bourbon Bar & Grill has opened in the former Belly General Store space. J&J Bourbon Bar & Grill, 772 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, no phone.
Chef Jamie Adams (Veni Vidi Vici) and general manager Leonardo Moura plan to open il Giallo Osteria & Bar in Sandy Springs this fall. Adams tells us the new venture will offer pasta made to order, an element that may indeed be novel among Atlanta's Italian restaurants.
Restaurateur Kevin Gillespie is behind Revival in Decatur Atlanta native, restaurateur, “Top Chef” finalist and cookbook author Kevin Gillespie has opened Revival in Decatur. The dining experience recalls Gillespie’s own family’s traditions, and executive chef Andreas Müller reinterprets the food from Gillespie’s childhood to create a menu that ranges from classic fried green tomatoes to rarely seen Savannah red rice. Müller, who previously worked at Gillespie's Gunshow, shares Gillespie’s enthusiasm for preparing traditional meals with farm-fresh ingredients and will use his own Swedish background to inject both rural and refined culinary influences into the Revival menu. Guests may order dishes à la carte or choose the family-style option ($49 per person), which includes the choice of one entrée for the table and is served with hors d’oeuvre, relishes, trimmings, Gillespie family iron skillet cornbread, the choice of dessert, tea and coffee. The restaurant expects to add lunch in several weeks. Revival, 129 Church St., Decatur, GA 30030, 470-226-6770.
Taking over the space once occupied by Abattoir, Ford Fry continues his restaurant empire's rapid expansion with Restaurant Marcel. Tapping as executive chef Brian Horn, Fry has opened an establishment in the grand tradition of historic steakhouses, with cocktails and French and American classics on the menu. The menu offers lobster chowder, oysters Bienville, garlicky escargots and Caesar salad made tableside. Chrysta Poulos is pastry chef, and desserts include crème brûlée with fruit at the bottom. The wine list supports all the red meat offerings with bold selections ranging from old-world choices, such as Barolos and Bordeaux, to California Cabernets. Restaurant Marcel, White Provision Building, 1170 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-665-4555.
Atlanta restaurateur Riccardo Ullio developed and operates popular Inman Park establishments Fritti and Sotto Sotto. The former is one of the most authentic pizzerias in the city, while the latter purveys Italian cuisine. Ullio has drawn from their dishes and created a menu for north Atlanta patrons at Novo Cucina that offers the best of his best. But here they pair with wines held at perfect temperature at the restaurant’s Enomatic wine bar. The pizza list is lengthy and consists of artisanal selections that are well priced. Ullio has devised a kids’ menu, too. Guests may explore the gelato counter and place their order after sitting in the spacious, open-air dining area, finishing their meals with Atlanta’s only gelato “artigianale,” spun in-house daily. Novo Cucina, Dunwoody Village Shopping Center, 5592 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd., Atlanta, GA 30338, 470-275-3000.
In collaboration with Concentrics Restaurants, which also owns or manages such Atlanta establishments as The Spence and ONE. midtown kitchenMason Tavern has opened in North Decatur in the spot formerly occupied by the short-lived Scoreboards Bar & Grill. Executive chef is Jason Hall (Max's Wine Dive, Midtown). Mason Tavern, 1371 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, 404-963-2322.
Helmed by former King + Duke executive chef Joe Schafer, Little Bacch opened May 20, 2015. Schafer also served as executive chef of now-closed Abattoir (that space will soon house one of Ford Fry's many new restaurants). Seating just 52 guests and not taking reservations, Little Bacch features a simple menu of seasonal fine dining classics, such as a cheese soufflé, oysters Rockefeller, a shrimp cocktail of Georgia red shrimp, and whole roasted chicken for two. Much of the produce comes from the company's Summerland Farm near Cartersville, north of Atlanta. Cocktails are another feature of the service program. Little Bacch, Star Provisions, 1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-365-0410.
Tutto Kitchen & Bar, located in the heart of downtown Roswell, opened at the end of November 2014. The Italian eatery uses only locally sourced and Italian-imported ingredients to craft a menu of shared plates and appetizers such as grilled octopus and veal meatballs; pasta and risotto dishes; and entrées like braised Colorado lamb shank and other weekly chef-chosen specials. Besides several signature cocktails and draft and crafts brews, Tutto's full bar offers a wine list with more than 70 wines by the glass and bottle. Lunch & Dinner daily. Tutto Kitchen & Bar, 942 Alpharetta St., Roswell, GA 30075, 678-878-2525.
In the high-rise Metropolis condominium building at 8th and Peachtree, a second location of Fadó Irish Pub has opened. Like its older sibling in Buckhead, this Fadó is powered by Guinness and stays open to the wee hours. Fadó Irish Pub, Metropolis, 933 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404-260-7910.
Italian restaurant Colletta has opened in Alpharetta’s Avalon. The menu from executive chef Michael Perez highlights pizza and pasta. Perez and team will make all pasta and even cheeses in-house. There's talk of an in-house curing chamber for crafting salumi, taking "from scratch" yet another step. The all-Italian wine list covers the peninsula and provides notable choices in a variety of price ranges and styles. Colletta, Avalon, 900 3rd St., Alpharetta, GA 30009, 678-722-8335.

Find more recent openings with our list of the
Top 10 New & Notable Restaurants
and our round-up of all the NEW Restaurants in Atlanta

News Bytes

Portofino Ceases Lunch & Plans for Fall Brunch Launch
Portofino in Buckhead has stopped offering lunch to allow staff time to work on a fall launch of brunch service. Dinner nightly. Portofino, 3199 Paces Ferry Pl., Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-231-1136.

Chef Shuffles

Louisiana native Dean Berthelot will take the position of executive chef at Ray's in the City, a spot he occupied when the restaurant first opened in downtown Atlanta 12 years ago. Berthelot began his life as a chef in 1991 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans, where he interned, and then held a permanent position at the hotel's fine dining restaurant, Begue’s. In 1995, Berthelot accepted his first executive chef position at New Orleans’ House of Blues, opening six restaurants for the company. Moving to Atlanta in 2001, he has worked at The Cheesecake Factory, Ray's on the River, and opened Ray's in the City in 2003. Since 2010, he's been executive chef at Google's four facilities in Atlanta, and now returns to Ray's in the City with a mission to elevate that restaurant's dining experience. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. Ray's in the City, AmericasMart, Bldg. 2, 240 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, 404-524-9224.
Adam Evans’ departure from The Optimist, where he served as founding executive chef, will cause barely a blip in the operation of the restaurant, one of Ford Fry's most admired establishments. Taking over for him is Wesley True, late and briefly executive chef replacing Richard Blais at The Spence. The Optimist, 914 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-477-6260 .
Although he will still compete on "Top Chef," Wesley True and Concentrics have parted company, removing the chef from his post as heir apparent to Richard Blais at The Spence. True, who has twice been a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for "Best Chef: South," came to Atlanta from his True restaurant in Montgomery, Ala. It would appear that the separation was initiated by Concentrics. No word from True as to his future plans. Our recent meal at The Spence under his command was excellent, so we're surprised. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. The Spence, Tech Square, 75 Fifth St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-892-9111.


Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Atlanta to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from the past. Bazzaar, R.I.P.

Gravy has closed after being in business for less than a year. The Grant Park restaurant offered a range of contemporary Southern dishes. Gravy, 465 Blvd. SE, Atlanta, GA 30312, no phone.
Chef Ron Eyester had revamped and relaunched his New York deli concept, Timone's, but apparently to no avail. The pizzeria-cum-deli closed despite substantial improvements in the pizza. Eyester also owns Rosebud adjacent to the Timone’s space and The Family Dog across the street, both of which are thriving. He also just opened Diner in Atlantic Station. Timone's, 1409 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, no phone.

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