Atlantans feel very strongly about our pizza – either you’re a massive Antico fan, or you love to argue about your favorite pie to rival it. There haven’t been a lot of new players to the Atlanta pizza scene until now, with the arrival of Amalfi Pizza downtown.
Brought to you by the same duo as Buckhead’s now shuttered Prohibition (read on for more details of its reincarnation downtown!), Amalfi Pizza is one of two concepts in an almost 12,000 square foot space in the heart of downtown. Previously occupied by the iconic Dailey’s Restaurant, the over 100 year old building used to be a storage facility for the nearby Woolworth’s department store in the early 1900’s.
When Greg Grant & Stephen de Haan of Andrews Entertainment District found the space, they immediately knew the concept that they wanted to create: an authentic Italian pizzeria. The entrance of the building brings guests into a brick courtyard with lofty ceilings, reminiscent of a cobblestoned European street. Steven & Greg decided to take to Italy for a month-long pizza certification course (aka, the world’s best & most delicious vacation) to bring the true spirit of Italian cuisine to Atlanta.
From start to finish, the experience at Amalfi Pizza is spot on. When you enter into the courtyard from the busy downtown street, you’re immediately transported into an open, airy breezeway where you can find a handpainted mural of the Amalfi Coast, as well as the restaurant’s in-house herb garden.
Walk up the grand staircase that leads into the main restaurant, which is punctuated by plush booths, exposed beam ceilings, and the biggest focal point – two 6,000 pound pizza ovens imported from Naples. These ovens have a fun story behind them – the restaurant’s owners had to shut down the street outside of Amalfi for an entire day to airlift the ovens up 2 stories into the building!
Pizza is the main event at Amalfi – locals have lauded the pizza as being some of the best they’ve ever had (myself included – I’ve eaten pizza in Italy, and Amalfi’s pie has definitely been added to my list of favorites).
Every ingredient at Amalfi is DOP certified – this Italian designation (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) means that each element of the pizza is locally grown & packaged in Italy. All of the restaurant’s cheeses are made completely in house, including their fior di latte (mozzarella) and ricotta used in many of their pies.
The star of the pizza lineup is the Pizza Carnevale, a speciality developed in-house to mimic a traditional Italian carnival mask. The exterior is a formed crust filled with pockets of house-made ricotta, while the pizza itself is a simple Neapolitan style with house-made San Marzano sauce, fresh mozzarella, and imported olive oil. Add fresh peppadews or neapolitan spicy salami to add a bit of heat to this perfect pie.
The antipasti at Amalfi is also not to be missed – each dish was colorful and full of flavor. The crispy bruschetta was topped with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and house-grown basil; the peppadew peppers, stuffed with house-made ricotta and cream cheese, are sweet with a finish of subtle spice.
The current menu at Amalfi is limited at the moment, with 3 salads, 3 antipasti dishes, and a variety of pizzas – the restaurant has only been open for a few weeks, so expect a full menu with pastas and more pizzas before the end of the year.
Pro tip – if you’re looking for some cocktails and a little luxury after your meal, head downstairs to the Prohibition-era Red Phone Booth speakeasy, owned and operated by the same team behind Amalfi. Dial a secret code to enter through the London-style red phone booth (thus the name!) into a dark, smoky cigar bar and cocktail lounge.
Each detail of the design of the space is exquisite, including a honey onyx bar, custom Italian leather couches, and brick floors from the original building. The cocktails are other-worldly, combining fresh juices squeezed in-house daily, hand-carved blocks of ice created by reverse osmosis, and some of the world’s rarest liquors, bitters, and tinctures. Memberships and private rentals are available, but anyone can experience Red Phone Booth if they’re lucky enough to procure the right code.
The Bottom Line
The restaurant definitely has an upscale feel, but lively Italian music and a reasonable price point keep Amalfi feeling more like a local neighborhood joint. The pizza is outstanding and is sure to rival old Atlanta standbys with it’s authenticity and atmosphere unique to the city.