Tag Archive for: midtown


Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 4/25/24

Led by Maestro Pizzaiolo Chef Luca Varuni, the Atlanta Restaurant’s 10th Anniversary Takes Place on Tuesday, April 23

Varuni Napoli, Atlanta’s premier Neapolitan pizzeria, is celebrating a decade of serving authentic Neapolitan cuisine at its flagship location in Midtown this April 23. Maestro Pizzaiolo Chef Luca Varuni, a native of Naples, the city considered the birthplace of pizza, founded Varuni Napoli in hopes of bringing the flavor and freshness of the food to Atlanta. Now, after 10 years of making that dream a reality, he looks back on Varuni Napoli’s evolution as a restaurant and looks forward to how the pizzeria will continue to grow and maintain its position as one of the top Neapolitan pizzerias in the Atlanta restaurant market.

“I feel incredibly honored to be celebrating 10 years of Varuni Napoli here in Atlanta,” said Chef Luca. “When we first opened, Atlanta’s restaurant scene was changing and growing, and we were excited just to be part of that. Now, it’s amazing to see how much the city has evolved, and it feels great that through an entire decade, we still have an amazing staff and supportive, loyal customers who have helped us get to this place.”

Chef Luca became interested in opening a Neapolitan pizzeria in Atlanta when he visited the city for the first time nearly 15 years ago to visit his now wife, LeAnn. He immediately noticed that there weren’t many pizzerias serving traditional Neapolitan pies in the city and wanted to bring more of his heritage to Atlanta in the form of food. Chef Luca’s passion for food developed from a young age, leading him to study traditional Mediterranean and Neapolitan cooking in Sorrento, Italy. Chef Luca also trained under the renowned maestro pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia of La Notizia, the first Michelin-rated pizzeria in the world. With his passion and training in traditional Southern Italian cuisine, Chef Luca moved to the United States and spent a few years continuing to develop his skills at American pizzerias before opening the flagship Midtown location of Varuni Napoli with his brother, Benedetto Varuni, by his side in 2014.

Each element of Varuni Napoli’s identity, from the name to the menu and even the design of the restaurant, honors an aspect of Chef Luca’s personal life, especially his Neapolitan heritage. The name Varuni Napoli is a combination of Chef Luca’s surname, and Napoli, the Italian name for Naples, Italy. When walking into the Midtown location, guests will immediately notice the open kitchen, where maestro pizzaiolos prepare each guest’s pizza right in front of them, similar to what one would find in Naples. Both the tiled ovens and Varuni Napoli’s iconic pizza boxes are a bright baby blue color, created that way in honor of the Napoli football team that Chef Luca grew up cheering for, and the eye color of Chef Luca’s wife. Around the restaurant, there are several black-and-white photos of Naples that show the mystique of the city and its legends, including Maradona, Sofia Loren, Totò, De Filippo, and more.

Varuni Napoli’s menu is the ultimate homage to Naples, featuring a mixture of traditional Neapolitan pies, including Chef Luca’s personal favorite (and one that he enjoys daily), the Margherita, and Chef Luca’s own personal creations, many of which were created in honor of his loved ones, like the Amore Mio created for his wife and the Nonna Mia created in honor of his grandmother. The menu also features dishes created from recipes that have been passed down in Chef Luca’s family from generation to generation, like the Italian-style meatballs and the classic eggplant parmesan. What Chef Luca takes the most pride in, is the quality of the ingredients used in Varuni Napoli’s dishes, with many being imported directly from Italy, including certified D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Much of the produce is locally grown, with Varuni Napoli’s Midtown location featuring a hydroponic garden where the basil used in the menu items is grown in-house. Over time, Varuni Napoli’s menu has evolved to include flavorful Neapolitan-style sandwiches, classic Italian appetizers like arancini, and even brunch pizza options that feature both American-style and Neapolitan breakfast favorites.

Due to popular demand, Chef Luca made Varuni Napoli’s most popular pizzas available for nationwide shipping when he joined Goldbelly, the popular online food marketplace, in fall of 2022. This move not only furthered Varuni Napoli’s place as a leader in Atlanta’s pizza scene, but also made it possible for Varuni Napoli fans from across the country to order frozen versions of the restaurant’s customer-favorite pies, including the classic Margherita, spicy pepperoni-topped Bastardo, and cheesy Oro Bianco to heat up and enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

In 10 years, Varuni Napoli has cemented itself as one of Atlanta’s staple pizzerias. In its first year of opening, Varuni Napoli landed on Jezebel Magazine’s “100 Best Restaurants in Atlanta” list and was featured in Atlanta Magazine’s annual “Best of Atlanta” issue. The following year, Varuni Napoli was named one of the best pizza restaurants in Atlanta by USA Today’s 10Best. Fast forward to 2019, Varuni Napoli was named one of the best brunch restaurants in Atlanta by Food Network. The pizzeria was voted the Best Pizza Place in Atlanta in a 2020 poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and also made Thrillist’s lists of the best pizza places in Atlanta and the best Italian restaurants in Atlanta in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named Chef Luca one of the best pizzaiolos in Atlanta and named Varuni’s Margherita pizza as “one of the 15 classic pizzas to try in metro Atlanta.” Also in 2022, Varuni Napoli was named one of the 100 hottest restaurants in Atlanta by Jezebel Magazine and declared one of Atlanta’s 75 best restaurants by Atlanta Magazine. In 2023, Varuni Napoli was chosen to represent Atlanta in Good Morning America’s “United States of Pizza” competition and was also recognized by Pizza Today’s Pizza Industry Excellence Awards.

Photos and interviews with Chef Luca Varuni are available upon request. Stay in the know by following Varuni Napoli on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, subscribing to the pizzeria newsletter or visiting the website at www.varuni.us.   

About Chef Luca Varuni: As the mind behind Varuni Napoli, veteran maestro pizzaiolo Luca Varuni brings his passion for Italian heritage, vast culinary experience and extensive Neapolitan training to Atlanta’s favorite pizzeria.

An Italian native from Naples, Italy, Varuni was born with Neapolitan food and culture in his blood and has developed a passion for cooking through the years. Varuni began his life in the kitchen at age 14 and, early in his professional career, trained under the renowned maestro pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia of La Notizia – the first Michelin-rated pizzeria in the world. After studying traditional Mediterranean and Neapolitan cooking in Sorrento, Varuni brought his talents to the United States, later opening the first Varuni Napoli location in 2014 in Midtown Atlanta, followed by a second location in Krog Street Market in 2017.

Throughout the years, Chef Luca and Varuni Napoli have garnered nationwide attention from partnering with Breville, the world leader in kitchen appliances, as one of its top pizzaiolos to being featured on and included in outlets such as CNN, Food Network, “Good Morning America,” Pizza Today, PMQ Pizza Magazine, Thrillist, and more.

Alici Oyster Bar Atlanta

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 2/20/23

The newest edition to Chef Pat Pascarella’s collection of sensational restaurants, Alici, whisks you away to the Amalfi Italian coast with pastel blue and yellow ornate floor tile, sprawling oyster bar, and stone worked wall. It all gives off a coastal, beachside vibe. This pairs well with the vibrant seafood dishes and sensational breezy cocktails that fills out the Alici menu. Everything from fresh raw crudos or sensational succos to easy drinking cocktails to crisp salads to mix and match fish and sauces and even a whole menu of fresh oysters. It’s just like spending a dinner on Italy’s coast. Let’s talk more about the menu.  

Sipping our way around the cocktail menu, we found that we’re in love with it! One of the GM, Ashley’s favorite is a beautiful and bright The Spiteful Monk. It’s citrusy, bubbly, and a great balance of tart and tangy, not too sweet. It’s drinkable, breezy, and reminds you of a sunny beach day. But whatever you do, make sure to try the Midtown Daquiri, one of the best daiquiris we’ve ever had! It started sweet yet smooth, rich, creamy, then the booze hits you on the back! It is balanced out by the tiki bitters and a good sweetness. BLOWN AWAY.  

To start, we opted for three very different seafood inspired dishes: the Polpo Socco, Grilled Baby Gem, and Tuna ‘Ndjua. the Polpo Socco is unforgettable with tender, charred, and smoky octopus, creamy, herbaceous caper-tarragon, earthy olives, and tangy red onions all on top of a savory, grilled pancake! On the flip side, the raw minced, savory Tuna ‘Ndjua, is a light, fresh fish dish! This is paired with delightful citrusy blood orange and an earthy, salted salad that adds extra flavor to the bite. Finally, we’re all in with warm, grilled salads right now and the Grilled Baby Gem didn’t disappoint. This is charred baby gem lettuce that’s smoky and earthy then topped with amazing, salty whole anchovies! Then, adding in bright lemon, a huge amount of cheese, and surrounded with a lemon aioli that add in a tang for a great bite. 

For our main dishes, we had to at least try one of the house-made pasta dishes, so we got the Occhi with smoked fish. They also have a pick your fish and pick your sauce mix and match, so since we’d never had tilefish, we went for this fish with their bright salsa verde. The pasta was perfectly cooked ravioli style pasta stuffed with smoky fish and a mild cheese. Outside it is tender with a slight spice of jalapeno that juxtaposes with mild fish and pasta, bright crispy onions, and earthy olives. It’s doused in lemon sauce that’s rich with citrus notes, this goes well with the other flavors.  

Now, on to our favorite dish of the meal, the tilefish! Hefty, mild, salty, crunchy skinned tilefish dressed up with a bright, earthy, herbaceous salsa verde that combines the richness of the fish with the tang of the herbs. We cannot get over the oil and herb sauce! Divine. To go with the fish, we tried their brand new cauliflower side. This is a good mix of tender yet crunchy that are both toasty and citrusy.  

We need to go back to try more pastas, fish, and sauces! 

Tiki Tango: Island Paradise

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 10/8/20

Once you step into Tiki Tango, you’re whisked away to a tropical island with all the sights and sounds of the jungle. You can imagine the palm trees hanging low, nestled close to a beautiful sprawling beach and the sound of the rain hitting the hut roof. There’s a humidity in the air beckoning you to grab a cocktail, so why not go for the best Tiki cocktail in Atlanta, Tiki Tango, or the striking Cobra’s Fang and even a classic boozy Mai Tai? Plus, did you know they have some fun, seriously delicious sharable bites? Come, join us on an island adventure that you won’t forget.

Tiki Tango is known for their stellar cocktails and we can’t speak any more highly about the Tiki Tango signature cocktail. It’s truly a perfect tiki cocktail, the best we’ve had in Atlanta. While you sip it, you can feel the pineapple and warm rum wash over you. The sweetness mixes well with the tea bitters, which really make this drink unique. Rich. Sweet. Tart. Slightly fruity. Perfect. There’s something naughty about the Cobra’s Fang with a balanced combo of rum, bitters, passionfruit, then it hits you. It creeps up on you and bites right when you least expect it, Demerara 151. One part boozy, one part sweet, it’s a fun drink. We’d recommend you share! Finally, no tiki bar is truly a tiki bar without doing the Mai Tai well. This was truly a great Mai Tai. We’ve had a ton and most of the time they come off sweet or watered down, this one was strong, booze forward with light citrus, lime, and the slight nuttiness of the almond. Refreshing and cool, but strong and tart, this is a solid cocktail.

Again, who knew that Tiki Tango had a great sharable menu? From our favorite Tiki Tango Tuna, plus the pineapple forward and refreshing Mauna Loa Hummus, to the Sticky Huli Huli Wings with a great sauce, crispy and tasty turmeric fried okra, and of course crispy flamingo fries with a freakin fantastic cucumber wasabi aioli, you can’t sleep on these bites.  Starting with the fresh and bright Tiki Tango Tuna, we loved the tender tuna atop of earthy and slightly peppery greens that mixed well with the savory vinaigrette and wasabi. It was a culmination of rich fish, earthy and tart ginger, greens, and the slight spice of the wasabi to be a balanced bite.

You don’t see many fried okra appetizers on menus around Atlanta, but who doesn’t love a good fried okra? The Turmeric Fried Okra was no exception with a crispy, slightly spicy, and rich batter that went well with the crunchy okra. Okra is a finicky vegetable and sometimes gets stringy or gooey, this one wasn’t! It had the right amount of crunch and tenderness! We think we can all agree that wings are always a good idea for the table, and the Sticky Huli Huli Wings didn’t disappoint. The stand-out was the slightly spicy, but sweet chili lime sauce that was just the right amount with the meat of the wings. The sauce was definitely sticky, but was delicious, wet naps required. One thing that we didn’t anticipate was how much we’d enjoy the pineapple-forward and savory Mauna Loa Hummus. We are now in love with the hummus and pineapple combo, it’s something we didn’t know you could even pair. It has the perfect balance of savory chick peas and crunchy sweet of the pineapple. We all agreed this one was fantastic! The Flamingo Fries were cut like a plank, which made it easy to shovel the cucumber wasabi aioli into our mouths. Spicy, creamy, cool, sweet, savory, four stars on the sauce. Can we get this on EVERYTHING?

Out back on the patio, the cool night breeze picked up and remind us about those long summer nights at the beach. The last of our cocktails dwindled and the tiki lights began to grow louder. We reminisced about our favorites, so we’d love to know what you’d like to try at Tiki Tango. Next time we’re getting the drink they set on fire.


Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 8/16/20

Among the concrete, skyscrapers, and hustle and bustle of the vibrant midtown city-life is a fantastic new spot, There on Fifth, the second There restaurant in Atlanta. It’s exactly what that area needs, and could we boast, a miracle? Something for happy hour after work or to take your biggest client, There on Fifth is an injection in the arm for the restaurant scene in that part of midtown that needs more upscale options, while not feeling pretentious. The second you taste Smallwood’s food you know why this place will be a hit with just about everyone, though. Offerings at There on Fifth include Indian-inspired beets, a seriously divine pork rillettes, dynamite hanger steak, and some of the best in-bone chicken in the city. Let’s sit down and share a meal together, shall we?

We tried a few of the shareable plates including the Roasted Local Beets and Pork Rillettes. It doesn’t get more local than these local beets, which were picked directly from Bill Brown, the owner’s garden. You can tell how fresh they are, perfectly ripe and tender. We love what Smallwood did with the Indian-inspired flavors like the spice of the Vadouvan to the creaminess of the Labneh.  It’s bright, fresh, earthy, creamy, and one of the best beet dishes imaginable because it has so many dynamic flavors that come together in one dish. We’re in love.

Moving from there we tried the Pork Rillettes, which Smallwood said was almost like an upscale charcuterie plate, and we can’t agree more. Have you ever had a pork pate perfectly blended and then combined with bacon and duck fat? I know your mind is being blown right now, but it’s so good you could get a spoon and just dig in. There is a variety of pairings you can make on this plate, like combining the pate with the raspberry jam on toast. Imagine freshly made raspberry jam with a perfect sweetness mixed with the savory and richness of the pate. Two things you didn’t know you could combine make one of the best little bites! Also included on this plate is pork rinds, so you can dip pork into pork. Isn’t that fun? Finally, don’t get us started on the pickled ramps. Did you know they only have a few weeks to even be harvested? You must get in and get them or you miss out. What’s amazing about this little veggie is that it’s on part onion but finishes like garlic. We’d recommend combining that with the pork pate and it adds an element of earthiness, bitter and tartness that elevates the pate itself. This is a must try dish for anyone that loves to mix and match flavors.

To say steak is a staple is probably an accurate account of almost every upscale place around town. It’s a must have on any menu because there’s always someone who loves their meat and potatoes, AMIRIGHT? What if we said we can make it fun, too? The Hanger Steak at There on Fifth is just that! Perfectly cooked steak (get it medium!) that’s rich and meaty slathered with a fantastic, creamy and rich sauce Choron. This grown up, but playful dish sits atop flat potatoes, almost like hashbrowns. Take all the ingredients and some of the vegetables and mix it all up, that’s your best bite. It’s meaty, rich, tangy, sweet, savory, earthy, and your taste buds will be happy.

The second you put the Springer Mountain Cassoluet in your mouth, you know this is going to have a good night. Miracles happen every day, right? But this one we didn’t expect. You see chicken on the menu, and you say to yourself, “that’s the safe dish.” Not this time, this is probably the best bone-in chicken dish in Atlanta. Bear with us here, we’re going to prove it. Imagine chicken perfectly brined and tender that literally will not stay on the bone, then flash fried and crispy, salty perfection. Combine this with the white beans, pork, and a myriad of comfort food vegetables beneath, it almost came off a little like the best stuffing you ever put in your mouth. Yes, like at Thanksgiving. Something you need to know about me (Liz) is that there are two things I love: white beans and stuffing. Put them together and literally my eyes rolled in the back of my head and I told John, “I can’t stop eating this.” We’d recommend mixing the chicken and all the goodness beneath into one bite, plus you have to get a little bit of that flash fried skin. Are you ready to try it? We’ll definitely be getting it again.

Beyond the fantastic fare, make sure you sample a few of their cocktails or grab a dessert! Our favorite was the Bonfire on the Beach. This is a refreshing, sweet, and tart whiskey cocktail with lemon, honey, and ginger beer.  Like the name says, it reminds us of the beach up front with the sweetness of the ginger and honey, finishing with a little bit of fire of the tart lemon and warming whiskey. We also enjoyed the French 75. It was cooling and mellow and who doesn’t like gin and champagne together? One of the BEST. Finally, have your drink and eat it too with the Monday Night Brownie. Fudgy and rich chocolate up front, with the little bit of bitterness from the Drafty Kilt and the slight salt makes this a well-rounded delectable bite that’s a perfect way to end the night. Share? No, thanks.

The sun is hiding behind the large building to the west, and the wind picks up and makes the patio an enjoyable spot to sit and chat. We talked to Bill Brown who owns the restaurant for a good 15-20 minutes about all things There, life, and the industry. Bill knows so much about restaurants and it’s always a delight to chat and share a drink with him. Cheers, Bill. You have a winner here!

Park Tavern Electric Ave The 80’s MTV Experience July 2019

Date: Friday, July 19th

Time: 7 pm

About: Partygoers searching for a radical night are invited to dust off their leg warmers, neon colors and spandex for Electric Avenue “The 80’s MTV Experience” at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park. Beginning at 7 p.m., perms and mullets alike can bust a move to their favorite 80’s tunes featuring iconic sounds of vintage synthesizers and drum machines. Guests can also enjoy Park Tavern’s signature favorites such as burgers, tacos, fresh sushi flown in from Hawaii, handcrafted cocktails, frosty beers, a wide variety of wines and much more. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music will begin at 8 p.m. and continue through 11 p.m. For ages 21 and up, General Admission tickets include entry to the event, standing room and bar seating only on a first-come, first-served basis and are available starting at $20. General Admission tickets will increase to $25 at the door. For a guaranteed VIP table, VIP tickets are available starting at $100 for a 4 person VIP table, $180 for a 6 person VIP table and $220 for an 8 person VIP table. Partygoers can also look forward to rocking out to the favorite 80s jams all summer long, because Park Tavern’s Electric Avenue – The 80’s MTV Experience will also be held on August 23rd and September 20th.

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2019 Atlanta Field Day

Date: Saturday, July 13th

Time: 11 am

About: Atlanta Field Day (benefiting Playworks Georgia) is a throwback to grade school, built with adults in mind. We’ve got all the classic events like tug of war, relay races, obstacle courses, etc. – plus some crazy new games and some surprises throughout the day. Teams will earn points in each event to add up to your total for the day. Will your team have what it takes to take home the King of the Field title? Grab some friends, start your team, and get ready for the most fun you’ll have in 2019! This event is brought to you by Atlanta Sport and Social Club. Registration is open for corporate and co-ed groups, including individual tickets to join a team that day. Tickets run $56 for individual and up to $500 for a team.

What to expect during Field Day. Teams will compete in 8 competitions over the course of the day, consisting of (3) scheduled relays, and (5) scramble games events. The full game list and rules will be released the week of the event! Each team will compete in (2) scheduled relay events. In these two events, your team score is ranked against every other team participating in the event. Teams will select (7) scramble-style games to participate in. Scramble games can be points-based challenge involving just one team, or a head-to-head matchup with another team. We’ve teamed up with the Playworks Georgia for this year’s charity challenge! The more funds your team raises, the more points you earn towards your overall score!

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Summer Sunsets with Yacht Rock Schooner June 2019

Date: Friday, June 28th

Time: 7 pm

About: Yacht Rock Schooner returns to Park Tavern’s Summer Sunsets this Friday. Yacht Rock Schooner will once again rock the boat at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park’s Summer Sunsets. Revelers are invited sway along to the classic sounds of Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and more, while enjoying Park Tavern’s signature favorites such as burgers, tacos, fresh sushi flown in from Hawaii, handcrafted cocktails, frosty beers, a wide variety of wines and much more. Doors open at 7 p.m. and music will begin at 8 p.m. and continue through 11 p.m. For ages 21 and up, General Admission tickets are available starting at $15 and will increase to $20 at the door. For a guaranteed VIP table with a server, VIP tickets are available starting at $150 for a 6 person VIP table and $200 for an 8 person VIP table. Partygoers can also look forward to smooth sailing all summer long, because Yacht Rock Schooner will return to Park Tavern’s Summer Sunsets on July 26th, August 30th and September 27th. For more information and to purchase tickets for future shows, please visit www.parktavern.com.

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