My friend Mike, who lives in Florida and writes the very good food blog Sweet Tea & Bourbon, was finally in Atlanta at a time when it was convenient for us to meet. We’d missed each other a time or three before. On one instance, he rang to see whether I wanted to do lunch about an hour after my daughter had her wisdom teeth pulled. I looked at the poor kid, sacked out on the couch with her mouth full of cotton, doped so high on painkillers that she couldn’t count beyond her fingers without falling asleep, and decided that while I might not be the best parent in town, at least I knew that it would be wrong to drive to Buford Highway for some Sichuan cooking with my kid in that state.
Anyway, Mike and his wife decided to take a day trip into Georgia to see how bad the Spring Break congestion on I-75 around McDonough is. Having entertained and enlightened themselves with two hours stuck in that mess, they decided they might as well come on into Atlanta and get some dinner. Marie and our son and I had spent a few good hours jaunting around west Georgia finding some barbecue, but after a short rest at home, we met them at Varuni Napoli for a nice pizza dinner. The restaurant is owned by Luca Varuni, a fellow known to this city’s pizza lovers for his time baking pies at our celebrated Antico, and opened in the spring of 2014.
Marie and I ordered a Maradona pie, leaving off the peppers on account of our fussy four-year old, and a meat and cheese plate which turned out to have rather more olives than cheese. The olives were great, but I’d rather have had some more cheese than that. The meats were quite good, although everybody except me agreed that the soppressata was surprisingly spicy. I thought it was kind of mild, myself.
The pies here are Neapolitan, meaning everybody behind-the-scenes makes sure that all the right ovens, flour, and tomatoes are used to get some silly organization’s stamp of approval. I’ve always found this quite chuckle-worthy, because the approval you really need is that of the locals, and not some snobs in Europe. The locals, I’m happy to say, turn out in droves. This is a really popular restaurant for good reasons: the pizza is downright great, and the service is incredibly quick and friendly. How good was this pie? I snacked at four restaurants earlier that day, and so I was planning for a single slice of pizza. I had three.
The food is really good, but I will hope that if I come back to Varuni Napoli (I would really like to try the spicy Porreca Picante), it’s when the weather’s nice and we can sit on their patio. It’s crazy noisy inside. (We would have done so on this visit, but we came at peak time and there wasn’t space available for our party. Shame; it’s a really nice little patio!) Looking around, I see that other people have mentioned this issue, but this was just so loud that it made our son very unhappy and conversation difficult. Perhaps Varuni will address this issue sometime.
We really enjoyed the meal, and it was great to finally meet Mike and his wife and do that popular 2D-to-3D thing, as the kids say. Perhaps the next time they feel like a day trip, they won’t have to spend whacking great chunks of it stuck on the interstate and can visit a few more good Atlanta restaurants instead!
Other blog posts about Varuni Napoli:
Hot Dish Review (May 18 2014)
Review Atlanta (May 19 2014)
ATL Food Snob (July 24 2014)
Spatialdrift (Aug. 14 2014)
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