I’ve been living in Atlanta for the past three years, and though I was very skeptical upon arrival, I have become pleasantly surprised with the culinary scene here… especially over the past year as I have gotten to know the city so much better. Despite finding a variety of quality restaurants, cafes and random lunch spots… one of the most glaring epicurean oversights remaining is pizza.
I must put this statement in context, as I am a bit of a pizza snob. Having grown up in New Haven (pizza mecca, if you were not aware) and lived in New York City… I have a certain idea of what pizza should taste like, and I have been thoroughly disappointed since my move to this soft-crusted, bland-cheese city..
And then there was light… and then there was Jeff Varasano. I first heard about Jeff in the dining section of the NYTimes.. This man is the ultimate pizza geek (honed while at Yale and years in New York)… a passion after my own heart. Jeff has been conducting ‘pizza tastings’ in his home for the past few years and will (this month) be opening his own pizza cafe in Atlanta: Varasano’s. He has actually gone through the trouble of ‘rigging’ his conventional home oven to be able to shut tight in cleaning mode (raising the temperature to almost 800-degrees). His method is spectacular and his devotion to quality ingredients even more profound… with fresh, piping hot pizzas emerging from his contraption in under two minutes!!
My friend and I were recently lucky enough to experience the final ‘pizza tasting’ before Jeff closed up his home shop for good to open his restaurant. Gracing our plates at this BYOB event were creations as simple as a Margherita pie (fresh mozzarella, tomato & basil) to as complex as a Dolce pie (dates, fontina, walnuts & honey). I am overwhelming impressed with Jeff’s creations and am still salivating as I await the opening of his new place… Pizza in Atlanta, what’s next… snow??!!