Antico – Atlanta, GA

Something interesting happened to me recently. Now I’ve had my fair share of fine dining experiences, eaten many delicious morsels around the world, but a certain phenomenon hasn’t made itself apparent until I moved to Atlanta, GA. I call it the Antico Effect. Antico is a pizzeria on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta in a worn and weathered old neighborhood. It’s unassuming, small, loud, there’s no parking, no fancy sign, no maitre d’, and they make the best (insert swear word here) pizza in the world.

I know, I can hear the crowds beginning to boil with non-belief, anger even, “What about Napoli?!” they cry, “New York can’t be beat!” they say, “Chicago is king!” they muster. Wrong my friends, so very very wrong. I’ve enjoyed many pizzas from all three pizza powerhouses, and I can say with absolute confidence that Antico trumps them all. Now there may be some grey area as the owners and chefs are all from Naples, but the fact of the matter is that the best pizza in the world is here, in Atlanta, in the deep south. Their hours are 11:30 am til out of dough, they ship all their ingredients strictly from the Campania region of southern Italy. Hand crushed San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala, and fine E.V.O.O, all shipped weekly by air from Italy. They even shipped by sea three Grande Forni (brick ovens) from naples, made from the volcanic rock of Mt. Vesuvius to evenly distribute the 900º temperature required to produce the amazing pizza in just around 60 seconds. Yes, yes, but what about the pizza?! Let me just say that everyone I’ve brought here has had a bit of doubt and suspicion that this could actually be the best pizza in the world, and each of those people have promptly overturned those feelings within the first bite. “My god this is amazing” are the only words they utter until the pizza is devoured. Antico has a small menu, comprised of 10 pizzas, 7 “Pizza Tradizionale di Napoli” and 3 “Pizza Specialita”. Of these 10 I’ve tried 3 over four visits. The tried and true Margherita D.O.P. with extra Bufala, the Diavaola with spicy sopressata, pepperonata, bufala, and crazy delicious sweet/hot red peppers, and last but by far not least, the San Gennaro, topped with salsiccia (Italian sausage), sweet red peppers, bufala, and sweet cipolline onions. Possibly the best thing about Antico, the price, these three pizzas ranged from $17 to $21, not really that much different from any towns local pizzeria, but you get so much more for your money.

Now, back to the Antico Effect. In short, this effect basically causes you to be unable to have the same cuisine at any other establishment without uttering, “well it’s ok, but it’s nowhere near (insert amazing restaurant name here)”. Now I’m not so aloof as to not have had another pizza somewhere else, and yes some were tasty, but in the back of my mind I always wish I was at Antico, as any other pizza I have now just can’t compare. I think back to my past food escapades to try and find another occurrence like this, and while some come close, like Burger Bar in Vegas for instance, none are as clear and dry as Antico. Every time I go, I can confidently say, this is the best pizza in the world. How can it not be the pizza served at Antico is highly endorsed by the Margherita Regina Associazione of Napoli, THE authority on authentic pizza Napoletana, who have only bestowed this great honor on a handful of pizzerias outside of Naples. Pizza from Antico was even specifically requested for Pope John Paul, and Bill Clinton for the G7 summit. All I can say is that if you’re in Atlanta, and you have time to eat at one place, for the love of bufala make it Antico.

Love it or don’t hate it.

Why is it so hard to find my favorite foods in this forsaken town? Which leads me to, why do I live in this forsaken town? Why is it harder to find a Meyer lemon than to find a 53 button lavender polyester suit? Why can I buy guns but not a single banh mi? I can buy a $300 pair of Air Jordans but can’t get some $100 iberico ham. I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say that households everywhere are watching TV and see things like pork belly, foie gras, toro, paté, ramps, shiso, harissa, kimchee, watching shows like Iron Chef and No Reservations without giving a thought as to why they’re not eating this or that. Instead we settle for chain restaurants and fast food. You feeling special? You like special toppings on your pizza? How about some squash blossoms, lardo, or shaved black truffles. Maybe some nice nduja? Haven’t even tried it…. I like wagyu and hamachi kama.. stuff like that. I like quail eggs and stinky cheese, quince paste and cassoulet. Things of this nature. But if I want some of these things I’m going to have to gas up the car and take a drive cause that ain’t going to fly in my town. “You like ribs? We got some but they ain’t great. Burgers? Tons of those… What did you say? You want it cooked rare? We can’t do that… Mediums is as low as we go.” why is that exactly? I’m guessing the quality of beef is far from super duper. And the biggest thing about all of this, even crazy at a point, is some of these foodstuffs are, or have been up until just recently, illegal to sell in the United States. It’s not as bad as it was 5 years ago but it’s sure not like buying a bag of Doritos. There’s a reason you can’t buy fresh mangosteens at Whole Foods or Publix or Krogers or anywhere. The USDA deems certain imported foods unsafe for American consumption simply because of the lack of pasteurization Thanks Louis for having my back. But it’s the same organization that allows Oreos to be produced. (I think Oreos taste good) Its the same organization that picks and chooses who can import and export their goods and services based not on quality but how much money the purveyor can give the “licensing”. Yeah It’s political. It’s embargo. It’s food. It’s a ransom. I think if you have misinterpreted what my idea here of trying to convey the frustration I have, you are in fact by no means incorrect. I have no room telling people what to get out of what they read. My mind set is that I love food in a way that brings me so much happines. It shouldn’t be so hard to locate the most tastiest of eats. And maybe it’s ok for you to get angry when you are without ability of volunteer, being deprived of the best food available for consumption. And maybe just maybe you should settle? That’s a question not a statement…those were three periods.