After reading three 5-star reviews on Yelp and seeing Blissful Glutton's review of Antico Pizza, I couldn't help but go there immediately. Located in a pretty unassuming spot on Hemphill close to Georgia Tech, I practically drove past the small, yellowish building. Antico is only a carry-out establishment with a small counter to eat on if you just can't wait to get home (or eat the pizza in your car).
It was surprisingly clean - I thought it would be more divey, but this place is brand spankin' new. There is a glass encased pizza making table where sadly nobody was working, but still looked awesome. If this place was a church, that room was the altar-it was a holy place where they can showcase their labor of love.
Also behind glass is a dessert stand of handmade canoli (they fill it only after you order it) and sfogliatelle. They looked magnificent and while I ordered two sfogliatelle, the guy running the show forgot about them and I felt bad making other people wait as it was getting crowded.
Additionally, they even have pre-made pizza's for you to take home, though nobody even laid an eyeball on them. Customers kept their eye on the prize - a fresh baked pizza.
I was greeted by a kid who I have come to find out is the owner's son who was looking quite pamplonian (or like Mattin of Top Chef fame); he had on all white with a red bandanna around his neck. This is the uniform at Antico, and they can dress like clowns for all I care as long as they keep putting out quality product. You place your order up front and the guy calls it in to the back. By the way, this guy is also slicing pizzas, running charges and filling canoli. While waiting I literally watched this place's popularity growing- people continued to keep piling in during this soft opening.
The pizza was pretty close to perfection. The ingredients are simple, but are high-quality and compliment one another perfectly. The hint of garlic within the mix is mind-blowing although it will haunt you the rest of the night. Apparently they are using extremely hot ovens imported directly from Naples and this allows them to achieve much char and minute long cooking times. From the time I placed my order until the time I had pizza in my hand was only about five minutes.
I have 3 minor complaints.
1. The sauce - I've definitely had better sauce. This lacked flavor and was even a bit watery.
2. The flop - the crust was just too floppy toward the center. It was perfect from the mid point of the slice to the back end.
3. The cheese - While most people love cheese, on a margherita I like it to be a little more sparse. This allows for all the ingredients to show off their contribution to the pie.
Aside from these problems, the pizza is just perfect. They aren't cheap but the $15 margherita is enough to feed two and is really made from the best stuff on earth (sorry Snapple). If you go with one of their meatier varieties, it'll run you about twenty bones.
More to come on the Atlanta Za' scene when I have tried all of the places and can begin "Za Wars" 2009!