Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: The Local Pizzaiolo

Atlanta’s Neapolitan-style pizza scene is crushing it! And there’s one newcomer you should know about: The Local Pizzaiolo. The flavors are authentic, the sizes are smaller than usual (aka, perfect for one person), and I love that. Read on to see what else makes this place worth visiting.

WHY GO: Because the brains behind this pizza place, Giulio Adriani, is BFFs with the brains behind the best pizza place in the world (Gino Sorbillo, of Sorbillo pizza in Naples & NYC). Clearly, he knows how to make great pizza. 

THE VIBE: Casual but with fancy cocktails.
How adorable is this mural inside the restaurant? (c) The Local Pizzaiolo
DRINK THIS: Speaking of cocktails, grab any one that’s on tap. Yep, I said on tap. Your choices include negroni (such a classic Italian cocktail!), Aperol spritz (talk about another classic!), Neapolitan storm (an Italian take on the dark & stormy), and espresso martini.
The Neapolitan Storm cocktail -- super pretty and delicious!

EAT THIS: Pizza, duh! My favorite pies include When Pigs Fly (with prosciutto and arugula) and The Farmer’s Market from Giulio’s pizza menu, as well as the Puttanesca from the gluten-free menu. Yep, I said gluten free. And no, you can’t tell it’s GF.
The Farmer's Market pizza, with Brussels sprouts, goat cheese and bacon bits (c) The Local Pizzaiolo
The Gypsy pizza, with roasted wild mushrooms, bechamel, and truffle oil
The Local Pizzaiolo menu also features a great selection of salads, as well as a little something called Pizza Al Metro. It’s not a pie, but rather a sandwich made of pizza dough and stuffed with pizza ingredients of the day, like Italian cured meats, cheeses and veggies. Giulio dreams up a new flavor each day, and it depends on the ingredients available that day.
All the gelato please!

There’s also dessert. Your choices are authentic Italian gelato in a multitude of flavors (hazelnut is delicious!) and Nutella bites: Fried strips of pizza dough served with whipped cream, powdered sugar and Nutella. Yum!

LOGISTICS: The Local Pizzaiolo’s first Atlanta location is now open in West Midtown, near 5 Seasons and Hop City. And they’re opening up a few other locations around the city, including at Toco Hills, Madison Yards and Sandy Springs. 

PS: The first photo in this blog post is courtesy of The Local Pizzaiolo, via the restaurant's Facebook page.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Event recap: Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival in Piedmont Park

Unlimited tastings of wines and craft beer, live music, and tasty food, all on a covered patio on a sunny Atlanta day. Doesn’t this sound like the best way to spend a weekend afternoon?

That’s precisely how I spent last Saturday, February 3, at Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival at Park Tavern. And it. Was. Glorious.

The sixths annual event had more than 50 varieties of vino from some of the best wine producers in the country: We’re talking Robert Mondavi, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Joel Gott. For one-and-done wine drinkers, the festival also had a nice selection of craft beers and branded adult beverages.

Spending the afternoon drinking wine is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, in my humble opinion, and the Park Tavern patio is one of the best places in Atlanta to do so. It’s covered (aka, temperature controlled), but still offers gorgeous views of the city.
Basically, what I’m saying is that the Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival was awesome, and I’m already looking forward to its seventh annual installment. Want to check out even more pics from the event? Check out their Facebook page

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Amorino

It’s never too cold for ice cream! Am I right? Especially when it looks as beautiful as this gelato cone from Amorino at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.

Nestled between ATTOM and Tod’s, this location is Amorino’s newest in Atlanta, and I’ve recently had the opportunity to check it out. It is absolutely adorable, and the menu is impressive! 

In addition to authentic Italian gelato, Amorino offers delicious coffee (I would definitely come here for my morning cup) and tasty pastries. Check out the photos below for more details.

WHY GO: Because you have a serious gelato craving!
Amorino has lots of different gelato and sorbet flavors
THE VIBE: Warm and enticing. How can it not be, with all those flavors of gelato staring right at you!

DRINK THIS: Macchiato! We’re talking the Italian kind, not the Starbucks kind. As in, a shot of espresso with a little dollop of milk foam on top. It’s small, yes, but mighty satisfying.
Macchiato (in a glass) and espresso (in a cup) drinks

EAT THIS: The flower cone! It’s too beautiful to pass up, and it’s what makes Amorino stand out in the sea of gelato shops throughout Atlanta. You can get the cone in three different sizes and with as many flavor combinations as you’d like.
The staff at Amorino makes such impressive creations!

I also chose to add a gelato macaron to mine. Yes, you read that right: A macaron with a gelato middle.

Amorino also serves gelato in the form of a frappe (a blended, Frappuccino-style drink), on top of waffles, or inside crepes. They also have sorbet, which you can get in a cup, or as a granita or a smoothie.

Oh, and there are so many sweet treat options: There are pies, and tortas, and biscotti. Basically, Amorino has all your sugar craving covered!
All the sweets

LOGISTICS: Located inside The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, this location of Amorino is on Bolling Way, near Le Bilboquet restaurant and Tod’s and Diptyque boutiques. You can self-park in the main garage or valet.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Genuine Pizza

The newest restaurant opening at Phipps Plaza is the perfect cure for your shopping hangries. It’s called Genuine Pizza, and it offers an extensive menu of Italian-style pies, as well as healthy snacks, green salads, filling entre├ęs and decadent desserts.

Warning: Drool-worthy content ahead.

WHY GO: Because shopping is a sport, and you have to refuel your body after such strenuous exercise. But also, because the food is so good here!
Genuine Pizza has lots of seating options, including booths, tables, and counter and bar seats
THE VIBE: Warm and colorful. The restaurant is filled with green, yellow and orange hues throughout.

DRINK THIS: This really depends on what you’re eating. Genuine Pizza carries beer and wine, so ask your server for a pairing that would complement your order. The staff is really knowledgeable and will make an excellent recommendation.

EAT THIS: Order a pie or two to share with your table! My favorite pizzas are the short rib, the mushroom, and the pesto ones. However, Genuine Pizza has many creative topping combinations, so dare to try something different during your visit. Psst: There is a gluten-free dough option!
The short rib pizza was easily my favorite! 
To start off your meal, consider some of their snacks and salads, too. The polenta fries are addicting, and the dish is a creative take on a classic Italian ingredient. There’s also homemade ricotta and marinated olives, which are both super shareable. And if you’re looking for a protein-based option, try the meatballs or oven roasted wings. The latter are topped with agrodolce (Italian sweet and sour sauce) and come with rosemary crema – yum!
Polenta fries with spicy ketchup 
Oh, and the Brussels sprouts and burrata salad is not to be missed. It may have become my new favorite salad in Atlanta! Served with basil, pears and almonds, this flavorful combination is perfection on a plate.
Brussels sprouts and burrata salad -- YUM! This photo doesn't do it justice... 
Last but very much not least, the cookie. THE cookie. Genuine Pizza’s warm chocolate chunk cookie is the best chocolate chunk cookie I’ve ever had! I’m not huge on sweets, but I’ve been craving it ever since I tried it. I have no idea what it is about that cookie that makes it so damn delicious, but I need more of it in my life! Definitely save room for this one at the end of your meal. (sorry, no pic – ate too quickly!)

: Genuine Pizza is located inside Phipps Plaza, near the main entrance of the mall. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, and reservations are not necessary. There’s plenty of free self-parking, as well as complimentary valet. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How to have the best “me day” ever

I learned a lot about stress in 2017. Even though I didn’t experience as much stress last year as I had in years past, I learned a lot about how it affects my body and mind, and how to deal with it.

I realized that what helps me de-stress the most is scheduling “me time.” Taking it often, and without shame or judgement (mainly from myself), has been key in keeping my stress levels – and its affects – down in 2017. And I plan to continue this trend in 2018.

“Me time” can come in many forms, from a simple walk outside to an extravagant spa treatment. Because I’m a foodie, visiting a new coffee shop or restaurant solo definitely counts as “me time” in my book. Recently, I took a day off work and combined my love of food and pampering in the ultimate “me day:” A luxurious hair appointment at White Salon and Spa followed by a sweet little happy hour at TAP Gastropub.

After a productive morning and catching up with a friend over lunch, I arrived for my cut and color at White Salon and Spa in Buckhead. Its aesthetic is beautiful: Clean, simple, inviting. You’re greeted with a beverage (hello, afternoon wine!) and ushered to your stylist’s workstation.
(c) Kelly Embry
I saw Roberto, who gave my hair an amazing and much needed update. He listened to me, made suggestions when I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and was really friendly throughout the appointment. His balayage technique was outstanding, and I was thrilled with the results. I’d highly recommend him, but all stylists at White Salon and Spa are knowledgeable and professional, and they offer a wide variety of services that extend beyond cut and color.
(c) Carlos Maldonado
Feeling good about my shiny new ‘do, I headed to midtown to grab a drink and a bite at TAP: A Gastropub. This place has three of my favorite things: A lovely outdoor patio, great beer selection, and fantastic food.

TAP is located in the heart of the city and surrounded by skyscrapers, so enjoying a pint on its patio transports you to a true urban oasis. Happy hour is where this restaurant shines: Chef Gary Thorne has mastered the art of shareable plates, and the extensive beer and cocktail lists are guaranteed to please a crowd.
TAP's all day menu

I tried some of TAP’s new additions to the menu, and I really appreciate the chef’s creative take on comfort dishes in the most unexpected ways. The outcome is pleasantly surprising.
Some of the new additions to the shareable plates portion of the menu
For example: You can never go wrong with a soft pretzel as a shareable appetizer, but the addition of the beer cheese dip made with Scofflaw Basement IPA is absolutely genius. Or take TAP’s calamari – every other restaurant in Atlanta has one, but this dish is saturated in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese aioli and celery curls.
Soft pretzel with Scofflaw beer cheese
Buffalo calamari with blue cheese aioli and celery curls
The plant-based appetizers were probably my favorites: Crispy sriracha cauliflower, Brussels sprouts with Calabrian chili honey, and Cajun boiled peanuts. All three have a touch of sweetness and spice to them, and you at least feel healthy when eating them instead of, say, fries.
Crispy sriracha cauliflower

Brussels sprouts with Calabrian chili honey and champagne vinegar
Cajun boiled peanuts
I wrapped up my day with a cold brew from one of TAP’s taps and felt grateful for allowing myself to indulge in some of my favorite activities. Check out my insta-stories highlights for more details about both White Salon and Spa and TAP

What's your favorite way to take some "me time?" 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Taste Tuesday: Johnny’s Hideaway

Did you know Johnny’s Hideaway has a full dinner menu? I knew this beloved Atlanta establishment is famous for its drinks and dancing, but I had no idea you could get food there, too!

The restaurant’s new chef, Lane Hart, has been working hard to update the menu, and he knows how to play to his audience. He knows that what people really want when they come to Johnny’s is comfort food that goes well with a cold beer and is best consumed before or after hitting the dance floor, so the menu is chock full of items like beef sliders, wings, and tasty sandwiches.

Chef Hart is honest about his new menu: It’s not super fancy, but everything is made with topnotch ingredients and is guaranteed to satisfy whatever craving you might have. 

WHY GO: Because you can get your dinner and dancing on in the same place!  

THE VIBE: Energizing – plush red chairs, high top tables, disco lights everywhere.
Interior of Johnny's Hideaway 

The Sinatra Room 
DRINK THIS: Stick to martinis and signature cocktails. If you’re in the mood for it, the chocolate martini is pretty great here! The restaurant’s wine selection is limited, and they only serve beer in bottles.

EAT THIS: You have to get the beef sliders! They’re great for sharing with a group, for starting off your meal, or as a post-dancing snack.
The beef sliders are a great way to start your meal

My husband ordered the wings and was pretty impressed. You get eight of them per basket, served with celery and bleu cheese.
Wings with celery and bleu cheese 

I ordered the chef-recommended special of the evening: Buttermilk fried chicken with mashed potatoes and white gravy. You could tell the chicken was high-quality, and I love that they offered me a choice of dipping sauce for it. I went with the homemade honey mustard, because it’s already my favorite complement for chicken tenders, and the fact that it’s made in-house sold me.
Buttermilk fried chicken tenders over mashed potatoes and white gravy, with homemade honey mustard for dipping

LOGISTICS: Johnny’s Hideaway is located at 3771 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30342. It’s just past The Ivy if you’re going north on Roswell Road.

A few things to know before you go: Smoking is allowed inside the restaurant. There is complimentary valet parking, or self parking across the street ($5). On the weekends, there is usually a cover and a dress code (especially for men: No shorts, no open-toed or sports shoes, collared shirts only). 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Taste Tuesday: Allora

Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in Atlanta. Of them, not many do Italian fine dining well. That’s why I’m so happy that a new eatery – Allora, located at the Twelve hotel in Atlantic Station – truly gets Italian food and now ranks among my Italian go-to places.

At Allora, the flavors are authentic and the food isn’t too Americanized. You won’t find spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, but can instead look forward to dishes such as caccio e pepe pasta, roasted fish, and fantastic antipasto choices.

WHY GO: Because you want to treat yoself, but don’t want to go too crazy.

THE VIBE: Cozy, inviting, comforting. Dim lighting throughout the restaurant, plenty of intimate booths, and a bustling bar.
These comfy booths are the main seating areas of Allora

DRINK THIS: During the colder months, I would recommend the Serendipity cocktail. It tastes just like apple pie! And while Allora’s cocktail menu changes with the seasons, their wine selection is consistently impressive, boasting a wonderful selection of Italian vinos.
The Serendipity cocktail: Apply brandy, apple cider and prosecco

EAT THIS: My first suggestion is to course your meal – it’s the Italian way of eating! Courses don’t have to be large or numerous, and the menu is perfectly designed for a coursed meal.
Allora's dinner menu

Start with the antipasti (anything that comes before the pasta course, aka appetizers). I loved the whole roasted artichokes with horseradish aioli, the charred octopus, and the burrata. The latter is served with spicy salami, pickled beets, smoked pistachios, apple butter and grilled bread. It was easily my favorite starter! In fact, I’d come back just for the burrata (and a glass of ripasso) any day!
Burrata: My favorite dish of the entire meal

Whole roasted artichokes with horseradish aioli and bread crumbs 
Charred octopus with white bean hummus, peperonata and castelvetrano olives 

For your pasta course, you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices, but I had to try the cacio e pepe. This pasta dish was one of the best meals I had in Italy, and not many Italian restaurants in Atlanta offer it, so I had to get my hands on it. The flavor was spot on!
Cacio e pepe: Fettuccine pasta, black pepper, pecorino romano cheese, poached egg 

For your main course (secondi), the server recommended the roasted branzino, saying it was her absolute favorite item on the menu – so much so, they often run out of it. Topped with broccoli, capers, castelvetrano olives, lemon and brown butter, I was sold!
Roasted branzino topped with beautiful, tasty greens 

The dish certainly lived up to the hype – it was delicious and just the right amount of food.

LOGISTICS: Allora is located on the lobby level of the Twelve hotel in Atlantic Station (361 17th Street NW, Atlanta, GA). The restaurant has complimentary valet and is open 6:30 am to 11 pm every day (11:30 pm on Friday and Saturdays).