Food review: The Italian next door: Antico Pizza

The Westside’s popular BYOB destination, Antico, (Italian for “ancient”), is doing one thing—serving up super authentic Italian pizza su- per fast with zero frills.

Buried off Hemphill in the middle of a Georgia Tech-filled residential area, Antico boasts a line out the door on the weekend (stop by for a pie on the weeknight, it’s a little more manageable). The small counter service joint hand makes and sells Verace Pizza Napoletana Artiginale—a technique of pizza-making from Naples, Italy started by Raffaelle Esposito in 1889 (According to the good people at Antico, his pies were served to Queen Margherita).

It is actually a law in Italy that to be called a “pizza” you have to follow some strict rules; rules that Antico is one of the handful of pizzerias in the States to follow. Antico hand kneads small-batch dough and cooks it with fresh toppings in a 900-degree oven that was shipped from Naples.

They say their cheese is flown in weekly from Naples…promising a sure authentic flavor.

Come prepared: Although Antico now serves 375 ml of red and white and Peroni, you (and most do) can bring your own adult beverage to enjoy with the pizza. Also, prepare to snuggle with a neighbor for table space. There are a few places to sit in the ordering area to enjoy your pizza in a more traditional setting, but most of the seating is in the kitchen. Patrons sit elbow to elbow and watch their dough rise in the dough room and get hand tossed before it is thrown in the oven for a matter of sec- onds.

The pies (served up on some parchment on a sheet pan—no frills) are not your Papa John’s. The Margherita is marinara, Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil and the simplicity makes for a super juicy, super tasty pizza. One of the specialty pizzas, the lasagna, added sausage and sweet ricotta to the pizza. Both were exceptional. Food usually tastes better when it is made in front of you and there is a condiment bar full of fresh garlic, peppers and rich olive oil to handy to throw on your pizza.

The sad news: Antico closes up when it runs out of home-made dough. When the crowd dies out it might be hard to get a hold of dessert at the counter. I tried to grab some cannoli and sfogliatelle when we ran out of pizza and the ladies at the counter apologized and said they had already started cleaning. When I was super sad at Antico after being denied some delicious Italian sweets, one of the girls behind the counter took pity on me and brought me a fresh chocolate cannoli.

The little tube of pastry dough was filled with chocolate and ricotta, and topped with sprinkles. It was rich and delicate, crunchy and soft. Even with the sprinkles it was not too sweet and not too over complicated.

Antico would be a great spot to bring friends or a date for quick, good food. Be wary of weekends— if its super busy you could have a cooked pizza before you find a seat.

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