When I think of comfort food the first type of cuisine that enters my mind is that of the Italian variety. Italian food has everything you need to overindulge in and feel a little guilty about later. From sinfully rich cheeses and sauces to breaded and fried meats, there are so many dishes that scream “Eat Me!!!” As somewhat of an Italian food addict, I have many places in Atlanta that I rank tops when it comes to serving up the delectable, delicious and decadent creations known to require second (and sometimes third) helpings. Here are the best places in the city to get an authentic Italian meal and experience. Ciao Bella!
1 La Grotta Ristorante Italiano
This Buckhead dining oasis is by far the most celebrated and decorated Italian restaurant in all of Atlanta. Voted “best Italian restaurant in Atlanta” for 18 consecutive years and the winner of the highly coveted AAA Four Diamond award for 17 years, La Grotta deliciously lives up to the hype and reputation. If you want authentic Italian food, this is the best place to come hands down. Between the complimentary valet parking, suggested reservations for patrons and the highly recommended elegant attire dress code, you feel as though your experience will be one for the record books…and it certainly is. Chef Antonio Abizanda has expertly crafted a menu full of exquisite tastes. The antipasti (cold and hot appetizers) perfectly begins the culinary experience, including: Prosciutto di Parma con Pere e Mascarpone o Melone, Portobello alla Griglia con Caprino and the Carpaccio All’Italiana. Next, make your way to the fabulous entrées featuring Tagliatelle al Zafferano con Gamberetti e Calamari, Cappellini con Pancetta, Gamberetti, Olive Nere, Aglio, Pomodoro Fresco e Mascarpone and Gnocchi di Patate con Salsa al Pomodoro e Rosmarino. There are also great seafood options including sea bass, salmon and shrimp, as well as amazing desserts. Trust me when I tell you that this is just a very small sample of what they have to offer. Run, don’t walk and stop in today!
2637 Peachtree Rd. NE
2 Veni Vidi Vici
Within the heart of Midtown Atlanta lies this Italian den of sausages, sauces and scallions. Be sure to bring a big appetite because the portions here are plentiful and worthy of the calories that are sure to accumulate after a meal. Executive Chef Jamie Adams has put together an in-depth menu that experts and novices alike will greatly appreciate. Beautifully decorated interior and peaceful views only further add to the incredible experience of dining at Veni Vidi Vici. Appetizer favorites include the cozze (steamed mussels, spicy tomatoes, sambuca & chickpea farinata), tonno (tuna tartare, pickled mushrooms and ligurian EVOO) and the classic calamari with sundried tomato and caper aioli. The entrée options are as good as it gets when it comes to Italian cuisine, including Lumachone Quattro Formaggi, Agnolotti, Risotto Frutti di Mare, Zuppa di Mare, Pesce Spada and Scallopinne ai Funghi. While it is a supreme dining experience, it is not too stuffy to ensure that anyone who enters will feel right at home. It’s ideal for any occasion or any time of day, Italian food is always good!
41 14th St.
3 Valenza Restaurant
An upscale and trendy Italian spot in Brookhaven, Valenza offers a slight rustic feel with the great comfort food aspect that Italian cuisine is deliciously known for. Upon entrance, you feel like you have been transported to Italy at an authentic restaurant ran by the locals. Beautiful credenzas, restored furnishings and rich wood made of oak and pine adorn the walls. Before you have even tasted the food the ambiance instantly wins you over. But, the food is the selfish star of the show and it definitely deserves top-billing. Head Chef Matt Swickerath has a fabulous menu on his hands that features traditional favorites and items that are more obscure to the newer connoisseur of Italian food. The Fritto Misto and the Cavolini are great ways to start any meal and prepare for the main course. Risotto Capesante (seared Georges Bank scallops, summer squash risotto, basil & pesto), Pollo al Mattone (brick pressed grilled chicken, peperonata & crispy pecorino potatoes), Merluzzo (pan-roasted silver hake, fregola sarda, manilla clams, oven dried tomatoes & saffron) and traditionally satisfying ravioli are definite highlights that you must try. If there is room left try some of the sweet creations on the dessert menu that include Rosemary olive oil pound cake, vanilla panna cotta and ricotta zeppole. Don’t forget to bring your pants with the elastic!
1441 Dresden Dr. Suite 160
A fine member of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Pricci has all the makings of a classically traditional and extremely good Italian restaurant. Located in the upscale Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, where tastes are discerning and quite critical, this spot fits because it is a true representation of great Italian cuisine with a prime location and beautiful atmosphere to inspire you to stay awhile. More casual than other entries on this list, but still very classy and chic, you can expect a prime culinary experience from the moment you sit down. Executive Chef Piero Premoli is responsible for the superb menu choices that lure customers in. Fully indulge in such standouts as the Gamberi e Asparagi (roasted wild Georgia shrimp, asparagus, garlic butter and salsa verde), Salsiccia (sausage, Vidalia onions & sweet peppers), Orecchiette (artisanal pasta with Italian sausage, rapini & fresh calabrese chile), Risotto del Pescatore (clams, mussels, scampi, scallops, baby calamari, Napolitan pomodorini & herbs) and the delicious Pollo Ripeno (chicken breast filled with asiago and spinach, tiella of creamer potatoes, pancetta & cipollini. With so yummy many choices, decision-making can be a great challenge to have.
500 Pharr Rd.
5 Sotto Sotto
Tucked neatly away within the Inman Park area of Atlanta is this cozy little Italian haven that boasts great food and service. A resident fixture on local and regional “best of” lists, Sotto Sotto has everything you need to feed your craving for authentic Italian cuisine coupled with an inviting atmosphere. Several favorites take up residence on the menu including Strozzapreti alla Salsiccia, Tortelli di Mele, Pappardelle al Sugo d’Anatra, Lasagnette alla Bolognese, Tonno alla Livornese and Acqua Pazza. Also, a spectacular wine list and occasional entertainment round out the reasons why you should stop in and give this great restaurant a try.
313 North Highland Ave.