If you are wise and able, you should arrive in Atlanta the Thursday before Dragon*Con officially starts. That was you can get your badge* if you have pre-registered (or purchase it on-site if you have not), upack, settle into your hotel room and explore the host hotels to figure out where things are. And, if you are really lucky, you can take a quick drive over to the Georgia Tech area and indulge in some of my favorite pizza in America, the Neapolitan style pies at Antico Pizza Napoletana.
We were introduced to Antico by one of Jon’s friends that lives in Atlanta. You order at the counter, snag a table in the front area or in the kitchen, and about five minutes later a blisteringly hot, freshly-prepared Neapolitan pizza is dropped down in front of you. You are not given any plates, just an endless supply of paper towels, and if you want beer or wine you bring it yourself.
This is first rate pizza, guys. I’d easily put it alongside Keste and Motorino up in New York City. The major difference is that Antico’s pies are larger and meant to be shared; they are also sliced, which is not the case with Keste and Motorino. Years of reading food blogs have made me a total snob about Neapolitan style pizza: high-end ingredients, minimal toppings, not too much cheese, tons of char on the crust and underside, a little soggy on the interior, a stellar crust. Antico fulfills all of these requirements.
The Pizzaiolo, Giovanni Di Palma, does not screw around. He is a member of the Margherita Regina Associazione di Napoli, which is basically an organization committed to keeping Neapolitan style pizza classic and real. A page on the restaurant’s website further clarifies the rules and regulations that need to met in order to classify a pizza as Neapolitan.
We went with a group of five and ordered three pizzas: the classic Margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, garlic), the Pomodorini (fresh cherry vesuvian tomato, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, basil) and the San Gennaro (sausage, sweet red peppers, buffalo mozzarella and cipolline). And here they are:
Guys. I anticipate eating this pizza almost as much as I anticipate Dragon*Con. This is just really incredible, delicious, fresh pizza. As you know Jon and I have been watching our weight and pizza hasn’t really been on the meal plan, so this was really a great treat. We kept saying to ourselves “No mediocre pizza, we have Antico coming up!” and the wait was well worth it. All three pies were delicious and different: the San Gennaro had a great spicy kick from the sausage and peppers, the Pomodorini was really fresh with all those tomatoes, but I’m partial to the classic Margherita. What can I say, I think it is perfection.
So if you are in the Atlanta downtown/midtown area you should absolutely go to Antico. Be prepared to vulture a bit for a table (we did find one but it required a bit of scrambling) and, again, don’t expect plates. And to my fellow Dragon*Con attendees, this is a great and delicious way to carbo-load and to get one last decent meal in before a long weekend of booze and food court food and rushing around the hotels!
*Kudos to the Dragon*Con registration team for instituting bar codes this year. Last year I was fortunate to only wait about an hour to get my badge; I arrived early enough to beat the crowds and the 4+ hour lines that some people endured. This year I spent a little over an hour in line and don’t have any complaints. It seemed to be a speedy and efficient process!