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.