In our continuing search for the best pizza in America, we swung by Antico Pizza Napoletana on a trip to Atlanta.
Located in an old bakery building in the city’s Westside near Georgia Tech, Antico has been the rave of pie aficionados in Atlanta and beyond since it opened in 2009. Not only was Antico named “Top in Class” in 2010 by Italy’s Festa Della Pizza (held annually in Naples where pizza was invented), Zagat crowned Antico first among the pizzerias in its “Best Pizza in 23 U.S. Cities” list this past summer.
So, we had great expectations. We were not disappointed. Arriving before noon on a Saturday usually means long lines out the door, we’re told. But with the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game in Athens that day, we had only three parties ahead of us at the front counter. Like its décor, Antico’s menu is straightforward: 10 large pies, from the basic Margherita D.O.P. (san marzano tomato, bufala, basil and garlic) to the specialty San Gennaro (salsiccia, sweet red pepper, bufala and cipolline), all priced $18-$21. Don’t expect salad or side dishes; besides three calzonis and a homemade cannoli, Antico makes only pizza.
With opera on the sound system, we ordered a diavola (spicy sopressata, pepperonata and bufala) and two traditional margherita pies made with all ingredients imported from Italy and meeting requirements of the Protected Designation of Origin laws and strict Vera Pizza Napoletana standards.
Antico features a large wooden communal style table at the front and several more inside the open kitchen area. Four or five pizzaioli moved pies in and out of three Acunto ovens imported from Naples and cooking at 900°F. The dough is made inside a glass enclosed dough room. And the place was packed. Before we could find seats, our pizzas were ready, served on large baking sheets with brown Kraft paper in less than eight minutes!
The pies at Antico are authentic, beautifully heat-blistered and tastefully charred. The crusts are chewy and flavorful. The margherita pie is memorable and the diavola pie is delightfully fiery from the hot sausage while its pepperonata tastes like sweet butter. Line or no line, Antico is a worthwhile pizzeria destination by any standard.
— Don Oldenburg
Antico Pizza Napoletana, 1093 Hemphill Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 404-724-2333