TONGUE SAUSAGE


Varasano’s Pizzeria
April 14, 2009, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot | Tags: ,

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In keeping with my theme of visiting the hottest new Atlanta restaurants (for the most part), I gathered up a couple of old homies to visit Varsano’s Pizzeria in the new Mezzo building off Peachtree Rd.  All I really knew going into it was that it was new and and that the guy who started it (Jeff Varasano) is the “creator of the Internet’s #1 pizza recipe.”  I figured it was worth a try.

The space is fantastic, featuring high ceilings, large windows overlooking Peachtree, bright red walls and booths, and classic Italian liquor posters.  The coolest feature was the open pizza bar where you could sit to watch the pizzateers in action.  We were given the chance to sit there, but having virtually lived in a particular hippie pizza chain for over two years, I know what goes into makin’ pies.

The menu is very simple: salads, pizzas, and desserts.  We were there for the pizza, and agreed that we would each order something different to share amongst the three of us.  They only offer one size, and it is meant for one person, so we ordered three pizzas:

1. The Nana’s – This is their classic New York pizza.  We added pepperoni and mushrooms.       

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2. The Caramelized Onion – With caramelized onion and a sharp Emmenthaler cheese (a type of swiss).  We added prosciutto.

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3. The Nucci – With garlic, arugala, Emmenthaler, capocollo, olives, and herbs. 

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Let me begin by discussing the dough…  Freaking amazing!  I have read that this is the closest thing to New York style crust that you can find outside New York.  I have nothing to compare to, but it almost reminded me of a grilled pita.  I am still really baffled as to how they can make the bottom look grilled, almost burnt in some parts but maintain the moisture and breadiness of the dough.  Perfect combination of crunchy and soft and I’ll go out and say it’s the best pizza dough I’ve tried (and we had pretty good stuff at the hippie place). 

I really couldn’t come up with any complaints because everything was really good, but I would like to make note of a few things.  First, the Emmenthaler cheese that they claim is “sharp”, really did not stand out at all to me.  You would think its taste would stand out since they called it sharp on the menu.  Second, we added prosciutto to our Caramelized Onion pizza.  I was thinking that the saltiness of the prosciutto would go well with the sweetness of the caramelized onion.  The onions were SO sweet (still delicious) that they overpowered the prosciutto and might also be the reason I couldn’t taste the Emmenthaler.  Before we had even taken a bite, the manager came over and warned us that this would be the case.  That would be great if you told your customers these things BEFORE they decided to add it for $3.00.  After the fact you should just keep your mouth shut.  Lastly, the Nucci was an awesome pizza, but the flavor profiles were very strong (with the ingredients that’s not really a surprise), so just be prepared!

Overall, the pizzas were fantabulous and you can tell this guy really knows his pizza.  I highly recommend you pay them a visit.  Varasano’s is located at 2171 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta.  Pizzas range $11-17.
Website

Varasano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
  

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Top 10 Restaurant Trends for 2009
April 9, 2009, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Learn Somethin', What's Hot

I always like to keep up with what’s going on in the restaurant industry.  Here are some things you can expect to see from your favorite eateries this year.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s third annual survey of 1,600 American Culinary Federation chefs:

  1. Locally grown produce
  2. Miniature desserts
  3. Organic produce
  4. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes
  5. New/fabricated cuts of meat such as pork flat iron, Denver steak, and bone-in Tuscan veal chop
  6. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
  7. Super fruits such as acai, goji berry, and mangosteen
  8. Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum
  9. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
  10. Sustainable seafood


FLIP Burger Boutique
April 5, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot

 FLIP was on my hotlist of places to hit up as soon as I started “Tongue Sausage.”  It’s one of the hottest new restaurants in the city right now, and I became a big fan of Richard Blais’ during his run on “Top Chef”.  This seems like the perfect concept for him: taking food everyone knows (the burger), and putting a unique twist on it.  I was pumped, and ready for a great burger experience.

Arriving around 6pm on Sunday night with three friends, we were told there would be a 15 minute wait.  During this time, we got to enjoy the very hip and modern decor.  Lots of white, tables packed in together, open kitchen, long bar, and booths that are “flipped” so they look the same from the ceiling as they do from the floor.  After taking it all in, we noticed four open seats at the bar and a hot bartender, so we decided to sit there.

FLIP’s menu consists of around a dozen different burgers, lots of fried sides, and milkshakes made with liquid nitrogen.  The menu was very fun and I had a tough time choosing what to order.  Since each of my friends ordered regular burgers, I decided to order the Po Boyger to get a little taste of something different.  My Po Boyger consisted of a patty made from ground shrimp, Old Bay mayo, fried lemon, tomato, onion, and lettuce.  Awesome!  The shrimp was finely ground, and the flavor from the old bay mayo and fried lemon were fantastic. 

Po Boyger & Sweet Potato Tots

Po Boyger & Sweet Potato Tots

  Their normal burgers were also delicious – made with a mixture of hanger steak, brisket, and short-rib.  My friends let me try a little bit, and the flavor of the meat was great.  We also split some of the sides: fried okra, hand-cut french fries, and sweet potato tots.  They were all very tasty.  The fries were some of the best hand-cut I’ve ever tried.  My only complaint would be that the sweet potato tots fell apart too easily and were insanely greasy.  I also tried the Krispy Kreme milkshake.  It was also very good, but didn’t really taste like the real thing. 

FLIP Burger & Fried Okra

FLIP Burger & Fried Okra

Overall I would definitely recommend FLIP.  We all left very satisfied.  It is located at 1587 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta.  They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  Burgers range $6.50 – $35.

Website

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon



Serpas True Food
March 29, 2009, 11:46 am
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot | Tags: ,

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Being new to the Atlanta food scene, I had only read about chef Serpas’ ventures throughout the city, and was very excited about experiencing his flagship restaurant.  I went with a friend that shares my passion for dining out, and we had a great experience.

Serpas True Foods is located in the Old Fourth Ward historic district off Auburn Avenue.  The space is remarkable, featuring exposed brick walls, a huge picture of a cotton blossom, great bar area, and modern furnishings.  With high ceilings and a large window in the front that offers spectacular views of the surrounding area, it feels very open and spacious.

Now…  The food!  The menu is a lot of fun, twists on familiar comfort foods.  Our waiter (Michael, who was great the whole time) informed us that they change the menu daily, keeping a few items the same and changing a few each night.  Very cool.  We decided to start off with the eggplant hush puppies, served with blue cheese and red gravy.  The flavor was awesome.  Besides wanting a few more on the plate (only four for $8), I would have liked to see the hush puppies be a little crunchier on the outside and the blue cheese and red gravy were a little liquidy.  Nevertheless, I would like a few more right now. 

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 For our entrees we ordered the boneless short-rib, served with a potato-celery root gratin and the slow-cooked pork shoulder with the mac-and-cheese.  I really don’t have a bad thing to say about any part of either dish.  Both proteins were cooked perfectly, falling apart with effortless jabs of the fork and the sides were delicious.  The presentation was very simple and clean.  

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Lastly, for dessert, we ordered the fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  I don’t usually order dessert, as I’m not a big sweets person and I usually like to try as much of the savory stuff as I can get.  This dish was such a disappointment after the great meal we had just finished.  Just think about a slightly improved McDonald’s apple pie, I’ll leave it at that. 

The biggest surprise to me was the lack of customers.  We were there on a Friday night at 7:30 and the place was very far from full.  I know the economy sucks right now, but damn people, we’ve got to get out and support the great restaurants we have here in Atlanta.

Serpas True Foods is located at 659 Auburn Ave, Atlanta.  They are open Tuesday through Sunday at 5:30pm, and have also just begun a Sunday brunch.  Entrees range $15-25.

Website

Serpas True Food on Urbanspoon



Leon’s Full Service
March 24, 2009, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot | Tags: ,

I visited this new hotspot before I decided to start Tongue Sausage, but my experience there was so great that I wanted to go ahead and tell about it. 

“Leon’s” is located in downtown Decatur, and comes from the guys that created one of my other favorite spots: Brick Store Pub.  This is a more upscale version, with a smaller yet very nice selection of beer and more of a focus on food.  The space is open and airy, with lots of windows and a large patio area in the front that “is going to be set up soon.”  It will be a great option for summer and spring. 

I went with a group of three friends, and they made the perfect companions for a great dining experience.  We split an appetizer and five entrees amongst us.  We ordered the mussels and frites (fries) to start.  The mussels were cooked with lemongrass and beer and served with soft, slightly toasted bread.  The frites themselves were okay.  I think we just got the bottom of the basket as lots of them were short, the seasoning was okay.  To rescue our mini-frites, the choices of dipping sauces were great, especially the smoked tomato mayonnaise: a great twist on russian dressing.

For round two we ordered the open-faced brisket sandwich, the scallops, the pork osso bucco (my inspiration for the word of the week), and the bass.  Everything was simple, clean, and delicious.  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail because you should go yourself and I plan on returning and writing this baby up again.

Leon’s Full Service is located at 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur.  Right now they open at 5pm, but I’m hoping they’ll be open for lunch soon.  Entrees range $10-20.

Website

Leon's Full Service on Urbanspoon