I have never been to Italy, but I know a good pizza when I see one and Antico Pizza has arguably the best pizza in Atlanta and after winning the prestigious Top in Class Pizzaria award from the Festa Della Pizza in Naples it is quite possibly the best pizza in the U.S. I’d been hearing about this place since it opened last October but never got around to checking it out until recently and ended up eating there twice in one week – hey, I had to make up for lost time!
The owner of this little gem is Giovanni Di Palma, who was raised in New York but whose family came from Naples. In fact, one of the documents from his grandfather’s immigration into the U.S. in 1914 is proudly hanging on the wall in the front of the restaurant – the Jersey Shore cast would be so proud.
Orders are taken at the front and the seating area is back in the kitchen so you can watch all the action. The seating is communal at long picnic tables and on busy nights every surface becomes a potential table top for pizza and people don’t seem to mind standing while eating.
The quality of ingredients really shines in these pizzas, such as the San Felice flour that is used in the dough is milled in the town where the owner’s grandfather was raised. The dough is hand tossed by the pizzaiolos right in front of you and then slathered in a sauce made of hand crushed San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes that would make an Italian grandmother drool and then topped with Mozzarella di Bufala and Fior di Latta Mozzarella that they fly in fresh from Naples each week. It all comes together with the lightning fast cooking time in the Acunto ovens that were imported from Italy, weighing in at 10,000 lbs each and heating up to over 900 degrees – now that’s an oven! I’ve thought about how to replicate this extreme heat cooking process at home but until I can figure out how to rig my oven door to not lock during the clean setting I’ll just have to keep coming back to this place, which is fine by me.
The pizzas cook so quickly (in 60 seconds!) that you hardly have time to find a seat before your pizza comes out of one of the 3 piping hot wood fired ovens but it always seems to magically work out that a seat opens up right as your pizza number is called.
One of my favorite things about this place is watching Di Palma’s son work his charm on the customers. Just watch this video and you’ll want to go see him in action too:
Oh, and apart from the food another great thing about this place is that it’s BYOB! Don’t forget to bring your own wine glasses though unless you like drinking wine out of plastic cups – stemless glasses are highly recommended since the picnic tables shake every time someone gets up!
The cannolis are also a must – so don’t forget to save room at the end!