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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.
The team of Nicholas Niespodziani, Peter Olson and chef Nick Melvin is to open Venkman’s in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward in mid-September 2015. 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 will be part “vintage lounges” and feature an open kitchen with chef table seating. Venkman's, 740 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30312, no phone.
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.
David Garcia and Abigail Quinn, teaming up with Billy Allin and Kristin Allin of Decatur's Cakes & Ale, opened Proof Bakeshop in Inman Park. Garcia and Quinn currently head the bread and pastry programs for Cakes & Ale and the adjacent The Café at Cakes & Ale. Proof offers counter service as a coffee shop and bakery while at the same time serving as the central kitchen and bakery for the Allins' growing organization, which will include Bread & Butterfly, slated to open in the fall of 2015, also in Inman Park. Proof Bakeshop, 100 Hurt St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, 678-705-3905.
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.
Charleston's Oak Steakhouse has launched an Atlanta area outpost in Alpharetta's Avalon with Chad Anderson as its executive chef. The recently opened upscale living/shopping/dining development has lured a number of in-town establishments to its confines, and from out of state, Oak Steakhouse. With an emphasis on seasonally driven produce and locally grown raw materials, plus its reliance on Prime certified Angus beef, Oak Steakhouse should draw beef enthusiasts from all over the metro area. Oak Steakhouse, Avalon, 950 3rd St., Alpharetta, GA 30009, 678-722-8333.
Antico Pizza Napoletana and its companion operation Caffè Gio, a gelateria and pasticceria, have opened in Alpharetta's upscale Avalon development. The pizza establishment has a popular location in Midtown, and its new outpost has attempted to re-create some of the same atmosphere and offers better parking. Caffè Gio also serves panini and other kinds of Italian street fare. Antico Pizza Napoletana, Avalon, 2200 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta, GA 30009, 770-674-8811.
Chef Micah Willix has opened Community Smith in Midtown Formerly executive chef at ECCO and Latitude, chef Micah Willix has opened Community Smith in Midtown. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The rooftop space, to be known as The Garden at Community Smith, will open on March 20 with a capacity of 300 seats and a 20-tap brew program. Reared a vegan, Willix emphasizes proteins from humanely raised animals and offers a challenging wine list and lots of bottled craft brews. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner daily. Community Smith, 866 W. Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30308, 678-412-2402.
Chef Kevin Ouzts has a reputation for offering quality cured meats at his retail shop, The Spotted Trotter. Now he adds to it a retail fresh-and-cured meats operation and a restaurant, The Cockentrice in the Krog Street Market. This establishment will serve as a showcase for Ouzts's hand-crafted products, including fresh sausages, salumi, jars of chicken liver pâté and, perhaps, crepinettes. Dinner Tues.-Sat. The Cockentrice, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St., Ste. V, Atlanta, GA 30307, 470-428-2733.

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News Bytes

Canoe Celebrates 20th Anniversary
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Canoe, Atlanta’s quintessential restaurant on the bank of the Chattahoochee, has decided to honor the past and celebrate some of the dishes that were popular. Chef Matthew Basford has developed a special “Dish Revival” menu that rotates each week and features a retired appetizer and entrée. It includes guest favorites such as seared Georges Bank scallops and grilled Maple Leaf Farms duck breast. For more information, contact Canoe at 770-432-2663. Canoe, 4199 Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30339, 770-432-2663.
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. The restaurant anticipates debuting brunch sometime in September. Dinner nightly. Portofino, 3199 Paces Ferry Pl., Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-231-1136.
Valenza Restaurant Offers Special Menus
In Italian tradition, Sunday is the day when families gather for a meal. While still offering the regular Valenza dinner menu, the restaurant marks each Sunday night for “Notte di Famiglia” where chef Matt Swickerath will prepare a family-style supper including choices for children. In addition, Valenza features regional wines by the carafe for $20 or half carafe for $10. For reservations or additional information, call 404-969-3233. Dinner nightly. Valenza Restaurant, Village Parkplace Brookhaven, 1441 Dresden Dr. NE, Ste. 100, Atlanta, GA 30319, 404-969-3233.
Southern Sunday Suppers at HAVEN
Every Sunday evening, HAVEN will offer fried chicken Sunday Supper featuring crispy fried Springer Mountain chicken served with buttermilk biscuits and a choice of two sides including whipped potatoes, braised greens or mac ‘n’ cheese for $22. The regular dinner menu and HAVEN’s D’Vine Sundays wine special will also be offered. For reservations or additional information, call 404-969-0700. HAVEN, Village Parkplace Brookhaven, 1441 Dresden Dr. NE, Ste. 100, Atlanta, GA 30319, 404-969-0700.
JCT. Kitchen & Bar offers a fixed-price Sunday supper JCT. Kitchen & Bar's Fixed-Price Sunday Supper
JCT. Kitchen & Bar offers a fixed-price Sunday supper that features its famous deviled eggs and farm salad for the table, followed by a choice of several main dishes, three sides (also for the table) and a single dessert. Mains could include black skillet fried chicken, cast-iron roasted quail, and grass-fed-beef meatloaf, among other options. Sides lean toward Southern classics, such as mac 'n' cheese, green bean casserole and, of course, collard greens. Cost is $26 per person, plus tax and gratuity. JCT. Kitchen & Bar, Westside Urban Market, 1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Ste. 18, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-355-2252.

Chef Shuffle

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.
Growing up in north Georgia and the Carolinas, Brian Carson began his life's work by cooking breakfast for himself and cornbread for his grandfather's dinner when he was just eight years old. Even then, he experimented with the recipe until he had improved it. A graduate of the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy in Washington State, Carson worked at a private club in Montana before returning to Atlanta in 2011. After contributing his talents to 4th & Swift and Gunshow, he has taken over at The Pig & The Pearl. The Pig & The Pearl, Atlantic Station, 1380 Atlantic Ave. NW, Ste. 14180, Atlanta, GA 30363, 404-541-0930.
Returning to Atlanta after working with several of the city's top restaurants, Matthew Ridgway has taken over as chef at Gypsy Kitchen and its sibling The Southern Gentleman. Ridgway worked as chef de partie under chef Joël Antunes at Joël and as sous chef of Pricci and Veni Vidi Vici. A Johnson & Wales University alum, Ridgway accompanied Antunes to New York to reopen The Oak Room as chef de cuisine. Owner and chef of The Pass, Ridgway is also the charcuterie craftsman of PorcSalt, which he created to produce local, artisanal products from pasture-raised duck and pork. His clients include Café Boulud and Le Bernardin. In coming back to the South, Ridgway says he looks forward to having the benefits of a longer growing season and a tight-knight chef community that's mutually supportive. Gypsy Kitchen, Buckhead Atlanta, 3035 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-939-9840.
Longtime Atlanta chef Todd Richards has left The Shed at Glenwood and The Pig & The Pearl for White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. The downtown restaurant, a gleaming modern space, specializes in Southern flavors and raw materials, all of which are in Richards' comfort zone. White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, 260-270 Building, 270 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, 404-524-7200.
Having arrived in Atlanta from Chicago's Davanti Enoteca in July 2013, Jonathan Beatty took over the kitchen at ECCO from Craig Richards, who now helms Ford Fry's St. Cecilia. Beatty left ECCO at the end of January, and its owning organization, Fifth Group Restaurants, says it will conduct a national search for a replacement. We don't expect to see changes in the restaurant's philosophy, as it likely will continue to focus on Mediterranean and European fare, with house-made pasta and pizza at its core, but the specifics may as a new chef puts his or her stamp on dishes. ECCO, Atlanta Fencing Club Building, 40 Seventh St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-347-9555.


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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