Just down the road from the endless abyss of taillights that is better known as Atlanta’s rush hour traffic, Antico Pizza serves as refuge from urban chaos by capturing the feel of Naples.Antico, rated among the best pizza places in America by Zagat, is easy to miss from the outside. While the bright yellow arches of the McDonald’s across the street easily distract passing drivers, those who stumble into the restaurant quickly realize they’ve won the food lottery.
Antico’s interior is anything but easy to ignore. The restaurant looks, feels, smells, sounds and tastes authentic. Not just any authentic, mind you. Antico is purely Italian authentic.
The entrance hallway breathes modernity; transparent refrigerator doors boast the finest imported bottles of water and juice that Italy has to offer.
One room over, the main dining room hums classical Italian opera in concert with the sounds of pizza-box folds, patron murmurs, and chefs saucing, sprinkling and dabbing fine ingredients over their world-renowned dough.
The kilns, propelled by burning logs underneath, bellow as they bake and crisp the rounded pies with intense heat.
The diners sit cafeteria style on benches surrounding communal tables. Don’t be fooled by the brown paper towel rolls on each table; this is as gourmet a pizza experience as you’ll ever find.
The employees – from chefs to hostess to box folders – were all born in Italy. The camaraderie of the kitchen is palpable. As a synchronized unit, each person’s job is well defined. One chef make the pies, one chef handles the pies as the transport from the counter to the kiln, another removes the pies and brings them to the servers.
Once the pizza is brought out, the talkative patrons suddenly grow quiet. With the overwhelming aroma of fresh sauce and buffalo mozzarella wafting through the air, all there’s left to do is dig in.