Ammazza: Neapolitan-Style Pizza in the Old Fourth Ward

It’s not often that you find a restaurant that’s both hip and family-friendly but Ammazza does both – with tasty results.

Pizza is the main attraction at this new Old Fourth Ward restaurant. The menu is inspired by the street food of Naples and features classic Italian cooking methods that use Italian, locally-sourced and house made ingredients.

Ammazza is located on a quiet stretch of Edgewood Avenue, with great potential to inspire other shops and eateries to open nearby. Parking is easy and free, in a lot next to the restaurant.Ammazza

Ammazza is Italian slang for expressing astonishment or admiration. The slang captures the casual and relaxed feel of the space. You place your order at the front counter, then walk down a narrow hallway to the dining room that has a view of the large wood-burning ovens (great for keeping kids entertained). Dishes are delivered to your table. There’s a second bar in the dining room for when you’re ready for another drink.

Order one of Ammazza’s antipasto to share while your pizza is being prepared. Try the Polpette, homemade meatballs topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, romano and ricotta cheese. If you’re more in the mood for a salad try the Pomodoro Caprese, a stack of roma tomatoes, house mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.polpettepomodoro caprese

The Neapolitan-style pizzas are large and come with eight slices so there’s plenty to share. Try the Capricciosa (a traditional pizza that comes with marinated artichokes, wild mushrooms, olives, shaved ham, basil and house mozzarella) or the Inferno (topped with spicy sopressata, house mozzarella, calabria peppers and basil). If you want a taste of Naples street food try a Pizza Fritta. Similar in style to a calzone, house made dough is stuffed with cheese and meat and fried to a golden brown.capricciosa pizza

For dessert you can’t go wrong with the Cannoli. The crisp pastry shells are filled with decadently creamy and sweet ricotta cream. Also worth saving room for is the Torta Caprese, a flourless chocolate almond cake from the isle of Capri that is topped with homemade chocolate ganache.cannoli and torta caprese

Ammazza, 591-A Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta 30312 (Old Fourth Ward)
404.228.1036, ammazza.com

 

Atlanta Improv Opens

The Andrews Entertainment District is solidifying its spot as the place to spend an evening in Buckhead with the opening of the Atlanta Improv.

Atlanta is the newest location of the renowned stand-up comedy club and dinner theatre that has more than 20 locations around the country.

Founder Budd Friedman and comedian (and Atlanta native) George Wallace took the stage Thursday night at a kickoff show for the theatre that featured headliner Owen Benjamin of TBS’s Sullivan and Sons. Up and coming comic Jamie Ward was the host of the evening, and Gene Pompa entertained as the opening act in front of the iconic brick wall.

The Atlanta Improv will showcase nationally touring comics at up to five shows a week, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Each show has three stand-up acts, including local comedians like Ward who auditioned for a chance to make Atlantans laugh.

The dinner menu includes an assortment of bar favorites plus sushi created next door by master sushi chef Saito Saito at Czar Ice Bar. There are plenty of creative cocktails as well as wine and beer.

Here are the upcoming acts:
October 25 – 27: Henry Cho from Comedy Central’s What’s That Clickin’ Noise
November 1 – 3: Bobby Slayton (Pitbull of Comedy)
November 8 – 10:  Lachlan Patterson from Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham
November 29 – December 1: Maryellen Hooper as seen on Jay Leno, Dennis Miller shows
December 6 – 8: Sean Patton as seen on Conan and Jimmy Fallon shows

For more information including show times and tickets visit www.theimprovatlanta.com. The Atlanta Improv theatre is available to rent for private events and corporate functions.

Atlanta Improv, located inside the Andrews Entertainment District at 56 East Andrews Drive NW in Buckhead.

photo courtesy: Chuckyfoto

Sunday Supper South

Secure your spot for an exclusive collaboration of chefs, farmers, local purveyors and diners. The third annual Sunday Supper South will be held on Sunday, October 28th.

Hosted by celebrated chef-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison and featuring more than 20 talented chefs, the evening will unite James Beard Foundation award-winning chefs, nominees and semi-finalists from the region to celebrate the cooking philosophy and seasonally inspired flavors of the South.

Sunday Supper South emphasizes a sense of community with a family-style charitable dining experience. After passed hors d’oeuvres beginning at 5:30pm, guests will enjoy a seated dinner at long communal tables.

The event supports the James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program, which benefits aspiring chefs.

Tickets to Sunday Supper South are $250 per person, and $225 for James Beard Foundation members. For reservations call (404) 365-0410, extension 22.

For more information visit www.sundaysuppersouth.com.

Sunday Supper South, October 28th at 5:30pm at Westside Provisions District. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta.

Surprising Lake County Wines

By Maxine Howard

What is so surprising about Lake County wines? The surprise is that they’re interesting, well-made, and reasonably priced.

Twenty-one wineries from Lake County (just north and east of Napa) showed off their recent vintages at a tasting in San Francisco in September. We only had a chance to sample about a third of the offerings, but came away with a desire to visit Lake County to explore others.

The whites had a light touch. Sauvignon Blancs predominated but there were some lightly oaked Chardonnays. The reds exhibited bold flavors and nuances created by some interesting variety combinations.

Langtry Estate and Vineyards had one of our favorite white wines. The 2011 Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc was made from the Musque clone, from the Loire Valley, so it had some characteristics of a Sancerre. It showed terrific fruit at the start, continued with hints of the minerality you would find in its French cousins, and finished with dry grapefruit notes. At $16 a bottle it seems like a great option.

Among the red wines offered, Rosa D’Oro had two interesting bottles. The 2010 Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel) was a full-bodied wine with ripe berry flavors and the peppery accent you would expect from a Zinfandel. It is priced at $20. The 2010 Aglianico (an Italian variety related to Cabernet) was a substantial mouthful. The fruit was well balanced, there was a bit of earthiness, and the firm tannins should allow it to age well. It costs $24 a bottle.

Steele Wines showed off an interesting blend called Outcast Red ($22), which included Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Petit Verdot. The bold, dark fruits were balanced nicely by earthy tones for a spectacular taste.

Another fascinating blend was a joint production of Shannon Ridge Winery and Vigilance Winery. The 2010 Dalliance ($19.99) is a blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache. It lures you with a spectacular deep color and aromas of blackberry and cherry. Here again, the blending of grapes with varying characteristics results in a complex, full-bodied wine with balanced fruit, a mellow taste and a dry finish.

Lake County wineries produce small quantities each year that are not as widely distributed as their better-known counterparts from Napa. But if you can find them you will discover they are well made and worth a taste.

For more information visit the Lake County Winery Association at www.lakecountywineries.org.

images from the Lake County Winery Association’s Facebook page

Taste of Atlanta 2012

 

With delicious food, live music and a chance to mingle with some of Atlanta’s best chefs, Grills Gone Wild was the place to be Friday night. At this kickoff party for Taste of Atlanta guests enjoyed brisket, ribs, pork, shrimp and tacos, accompanied by wine, beer and cocktails.

In between sets of Yacht Rock Schooner’s cool ’70s music, the all chef band 5 Bone Rack took the stage. Chefs Jamie Adams (Veni Vidi Vici), Ford Fry (JCT and The Optimist), Ted Lahey (Table & Main), Gary Mennie (High Cotton), and Zeb Stevenson (Livingston Restaurant + Bar) demonstrated that their talents extend beyond the restaurant kitchen.

Grills Gone Wild offered a taste of the food-filled weekend to come. On Saturday and Sunday hundreds of people packed Tech Square where they sampled small bites from more than 80 restaurants. At seminars and cooking demonstrations, guests learned techniques to use in their own kitchens.

Now in its 11th year, Taste of Atlanta continues to show why it is the city’s premier food, wine, beer and cocktail festival.

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It’s Time for Wine: Chardonnays are Diverse and Affordable

By Monty and Sara Preiser

It has been fashionable in some circles for quite a while to opine that Chardonnays are boring, or simply don’t stack up to white French Burgundies (mostly made from Chard). In fact, an entire silly sub-culture grew up around the initials “ABC,” which, in the wine world fringes, meant, “Anything But Chardonnay.” Don’t believe it.

As proud Chardonnay lovers who taste hundreds each year, we can tell you that to lump all U.S. Chardonnays into one category is uninitiated at best, and foolish at worst. If any grape lends itself to multiple processes of production, and thus a myriad of taste profiles, it is Chardonnay.

Even a short list of some of the factors that influence a Chardonnay’s ultimate taste should well illustrate our point. Consider the soils in which the vines grow; how long the grapes were left on the vine, thus affecting ripeness and sugar levels; whether the wine was fermented in barrels or steel tanks; whether the wine was aged in barrels or tanks; if aged in barrel, for how long, and in what types (or combination of) barrels; whether the wine went through secondary fermentation (which would turn the malic acid properties into the smoother lactic acid); and whether it aged on “the lees” (dead yeast cells naturally occurring from fermentation) to facilitate creaminess.

With so many decisions facing the winemaker, Chardonnays can easily display every type of nose, body, palate, and finish one can imagine, and these sensory aspects can be interchanged into enough variations that it would take months to experience them all. Therefore, there is a Chardonnay for everyone, and anyone who searches out what is available can really never become bored with this grape, because it is almost never the same. Add to that our belief that one should have a goal for a wine (pairing crisper unoaked Chards with shellfish and light sauces, perhaps, or maybe oaked Chards with fowl and heavier sauces), and there is enough about this varietal to make it exciting and challenging.

Clearly the pendulum as to what people prefer is in constant motion. One might drink gin for years, tire of it, go to scotch, and then return to gin. We personally enjoyed Zinfandels for a long time, moved to big Bordeaux style Reds for a while, but are returning to Zins (which are, not inconsequently, achieving their best balance and profiles in many a year). So it is not surprising that for many consumers Chardonnay would be caught up in the same type cycle.

Over a long span of years, the majority of the American public clearly preferred highly oaked Chardonnay that had been put through malolactic (secondary, and often abbreviated to m/l) fermentation which brought on the illusion of butter in the mouth. About a decade ago, however, marketers and some producers started trumpeting the virtues of “clean,” “minerally,” wine, and thus that pendulum’s arc went far afield and overly austere (and less expensive) Chardonnays were in vogue – no oak, no m/l etc. Just the steel fermented grapes showing their origin.

There certainly is nothing wrong with the concept of “unaoaked” and “non m/l” Chardonnay. We like many of them. However (and here is the most important thought of the day), as with everything else a Chardonnay needs to have balance. Whether it be political orientation, religion, or winemaking, balance is most often the key. As that relates to Chardonnay, winemakers worldwide are now concentrating on how to best combine all the tools available to make a wine that will please the palate of the consumer when sipped alone or savored with food. Now we commonly see Chards aged in new barrels and old barrels, or in both barrels and stainless steel. We find Chards where malolactic fermentation has been artificially stopped after a certain percentage of completion to tone down the butter. And in greater numbers all the time, grapes are being harvested earlier to allow for a final product with less alcohol. All of this is fine – it permits the consumer scores and scores of choices, but also tons of fodder for confusion.

Today we feature 11 Chardonnays that are not only excellent in their own right, but can usually be purchased for the surprisingly low price of $32 and under. Those not aged in oak are often a bit less expensive for the obvious reason that there were no barrels used. So if that is your style of Chard, it is your day when you find some good ones. Yet, it would be difficult to drink only unoaked Chardonnays. They might pair better than oaked (of varying degrees) wines with some dishes, but a big Chardonnay with great balance of oak, acid, and ripeness, can well accompany a great many proteins, including meats so traditionally thought of as red wine dishes.

OAKED

  • 2010 Benziger Signaterra “West Rows” ($32): The winery’s best selling wine – it is full bodied due to oak aging, and has crispy minerality and stone fruit notes due to lower alcohol levels than most at pick time. Complex and fresh – a hard duo to get right – but here it is.
  • 2011 Peju Estate ($28): Though favorite descriptives for stainless steel Chards, vibrant and bright can also refer to a well made barrel fermented wine. Witness this one, which sat on the lees for six months and aged completely in 25% new French oak. A big wine full of spices.
  • 2010 Raymond Reserve ($20): Amazingly long finish and big body for a wine of this modest price. There are flavors of peaches with a hint of nuts (perhaps hazel) that follow a particularly elegant nose of jasmine. The wine is aged in 100% French oak for two months.
  • 2010 Rombauer Carneros ($32): No Chardonnay is better known than this mega award winning beauty. It is unapologetically creamy, smooth, melon and citrus influenced, and possessive of a huge body. Oak aging and m/l provide color and lots of buttery components.
  • 2009 Russian Hill Gail Ann’s Vineyard ($32): Melons are all over the nose of this rich, layered wine where half was aged in oak (giving it color, depth, and body), and half in stainless steel (providing liveliness and minerality). The balance allows many pairing opportunities.
  • 2009 Simi Russian River Reserve ($28): Wonderful balance – 100% Chard aged for 14 months in French oak (50% new and 50% 1 year old) with outstanding fruit throughout. You will get hints of citrus, nuts, and even a little pineapple. The first whiff is honey-like, which foretells the wine’s luscious body.

UNOAKED

  • 2011 Chamisal Stainless ($18): Fermented in stainless steel and seeing no oak whatsoever, it is made from fruit grown in a number of Central Coast regions, and thus is very diverse in flavors. Enjoy apples and pears seemingly washed by fresh stream water. An amazing buy.
  • 2011 Foley Estate Steel ($30): A terrific wine that was aged in stainless steel tanks for ten months, and went through no m/l. Its freshness is apparent from the lemon-lime nose, its crispness is obvious, and the minerality on the finish reminds us of fresh well water.
  • 2010 Hess Collection Napa Valley ($22): Made from 100% Chardonnay, this lovely wine is smooth with a nose of honeysuckle and pear, a mid-palate of Granny Smith apples, and a finish of apricot. Only about a fifth of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels.
  • 2010 Marimar Estate Acero ($29): If you know Spanish, you know this wine has not seen oak. “Acero” means “steel.” We get pears on the nose, and perhaps because the wine went through m/l, some creamy banana and vanilla in the otherwise crisp, minerally middle.
  • 2011 Mer Soleil Silver ($24): Fermented in stainless steel and cement tanks (the latter being in vogue), and there was no m/l. Scents of a rocky river bed first hit the nose, followed by hints of bananas and grapefruit. The winemaker recommends consuming chilled.

This article appeared in the September issue of Coastal Carolina Life. To view the article in the magazine, which also includes pictures of the bottles mentioned, visit www.coastalcarolinalife.com.

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It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

Fire in My Belly: Debut Cookbook from Chef Kevin Gillespie

Talented chef and Atlanta favorite Kevin Gillespie will be celebrating this month’s release of his debut cookbook with a party at Woodfire Grill.

Fire in My Belly features more than 120 recipes developed by Gillespie. Starting with the philosophy that when the season changes the menu changes, Chef Gillespie has shared dishes and techniques that will get home cooks thinking like chefs.

“Real cooking is flying by the seat of your pants. It’s finding some inspiration among the ingredients in front of you or your favorite techniques and putting them together to make something good to eat,” writes Gillespie.

The release party on October 9th will include a tasting of hors d’oeuvres from recipes in the cookbook. From 6pm to 10pm guests will enjoy mushroom toast, fried green tomatoes, ribs, squash tarts, banana pudding and more.

Tickets cost $75 per person in advance ($35 without a copy of Fire in My Belly) or $90 at the door, pending availability. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Gillespie recently announced he would be leaving Woodfire Grill to open up Gunshow in spring 2013. The restaurant to be located in Glenwood Park will have a home-like atmosphere and a menu of seasonally rooted, locally focused food.

For more information on Chef Gillespie, Fire in My Belly and the nationwide book tour visit www.chefkevingillespie.com.

Fire in My Belly Release Party at Woodfire Grill, October 9th from 6pm to 10pm. 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta.