Italian


No 246 wears well, like a great pair of leather shoes, or an oft washed pair of denims. It is a smaller restaurant on Ponce de Leon, next to Leon’s Full Service. No 246 has a longish bar, some tables, excellent staff and an intriguing menu. If you show up at lunch, you get to see staff prepping food for dinner, something a foodie might actually enjoy watching.

Wagyu flatiron steak.

Wagyu flatiron steak.

I enjoy the menu, think it well designed and the menu items are ambitious. Take the flatiron steak: how about wagyu flatiron instead? The salads are good. There are tapas style items. You can get a decent sized pizza here as well. Now, despite the care taken on the menu items, nothing really blew me away here. That can’t be said for my daughter, who favors their pastas and thinks they can, in fact, be blow you away good.

It’s a place I like to eat, feel free to linger, want to bask in the ambience and try out the food. I don’t think you can go wrong here, as it’s plenty good enough in a very competitive part of Atlanta.

No 246
129 E. Ponce De Leon
Decatus GA 30030
(678) 399-8246

No. 246 on Urbanspoon

Accessible. Pretty. Good food. A place to take a date. These are a few of my thoughts after having been to Luciano’s. It’s a highly regarded Italian restaurant near the Gwinnett Convention Center, just west off the exit of Sugarloaf Parkway and I-85. I’m not usually much for a fancy lunch, but you can’t do this food blogging gig and stick entirely to routine. The change of pace was probably due.

A good bread starts the meal.

Graceful is the first word that came to mind when I entered. White tablecloths, black napkins, spare, clean, quiet. Service was excellent, of the kind that melts into the background, as opposed to the “over the top” style at say, a churrascaria. Lunch can be as pricey or as affordable as you like. There are plenty of choices in the 6 to 8 dollar range. Paninis ran from 10 to 12 and lunch sized entrées averaged perhaps 15. Ingredients reflect the character of the eatery. Prosciutto, for example, was the core meat in my daughter’s panini.

Italian panini.

Salmon portion for lunch.

I had a salmon entrée, replacing the potatoes for broccoli. The salmon was excellent, tender and a little sweet, a large portion for the price. The asparagus quite good, the broccoli the only disappointment, plain and tasting mostly of the steam used to cook the vegetable.

A quick lunch can’t begin to define a restaurant, and what I had at best is an impression. But the impression was very good, and I can recommend Luciano’s based on what I saw.

Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano
6555 Sugarloaf Pky NW
Duluth, GA 30097
(770) 255-1727

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Step into this eatery, and 5 consecutive years of “Best of Gwinnett” awards pass you on the right. Fini’s is surprisingly good for a pizzeria on the edge of town. It is just to the east of I-85, in a mall centered by a Publix, and almost impossible to spot from Old Peachtree. These days, this is the sole Fini’s in Lawrenceville, as the other fell victim to a rent tripling scheme (*). My daughter and I went for lunch, and after having had a lot of fair to middling pizza, were pleased as punch we chose this location. Crusts here were nicely done.

Entrance.

Crusty and delicious.

The photo doesn’t do the size of this sandwich any justice. The bread and cheese were fantastic, the eggplant merely good.

Another view of the sandwich, showing the insides.

My daughter had a slice of Sicilian, and I had their eggplant sandwich. Her crust was the way a thick slice should be, and size and crusty character of the sandwich bread was totally delightful. The eggplant was wrapped in a batter, and wasn’t bad. Fini’s has an Italian sausage sandwich, and that kind of spicy meat with this kind of bread would be totally over the top.

Fini’s Pizzeria
1032 Old Peachtree Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
(678) 205-3872

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(*) I know this because Tower Games also left the mall, and my contact in the gaming community, Deep Gamer, let me know all about how the strip mall was seeking to profit from expansion by the nearby hospital.

Colossus was a surprise to us, offering far better Greek food than we expected. Clearly a superior choice for dinner, I’m very tempted to claim it’s the best Greek within half an hour of Snellville. As our overall experience with Greek cuisine is neither broad nor exhaustive, I’m also happy saying take any of my claims with a grain of salt. Still, I’d have no qualms taking out of town guests to this restaurant.

It’s perhaps the largest restaurant near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, on the right as you’re heading south down Five Forks, and located a bit before the intersection. Inside, the restaurant is longish, as opposed to square. Staff were wearing black tops and the men were wearing baseball caps when we arrived. There are tables and booths, and as the eatery is thin and one side has good windows, if you love light you can get plenty of it.

really good.

My wife ordered pizza, I ordered the Greek plate and my daughter ordered the Moussaka. We ordered salads and appetizers, some fried zucchini. The fried zucchini was excellent.

The Greek plate is a tasty meat paradise.

Moussaka. The hit of the meal.

Of the entrées, the pizza had no crust to speak of, except at the edges, just a floppy “suburban special”. But the Greek food was superior and impressive. The Moussaka was the hit of the table, something I expect we’ll be ordering again and again. The plates were enormous and we took back food from almost every entrée we ordered.

In conclusion? This is a place we’re likely to go back to. Overall, we were impressed by what we ate. This restaurant is a keeper.

Colossus Family Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30047
(770) 923-9852

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Mama Mia’s is a basic Italian eatery carved out of an old Bank of America building near the corner of Rockbridge Road and 5 Forks Trickum. This corner has a number of eateries, but I had Mama Mia’s pointed out to me by a someone working on our air conditioning one day. They said it was a terrific place to get a cheap lunch. Recently, we tried Mama’s out and have to agree.

The sign is hard to see heading down 5 Forks from the Snellville area. The tree blocks the view.

The inside is pretty roomy, with a bar on one side and booths and tables scattered about. The air is informal and comfortable. In the bar I saw perhaps 4 taps, one of which was serving New Belgium’s Fat Tire.

If you purchase salads, they will be served in a large bowl and can be shared.

Garlic bread came with our meal.

Baked “ziti”.

Delicious.

I loved my Italian sausage sandwich. My daughter enjoyed her baked ziti. Lunches are all less than 10 dollars and pretty no frills.

While the lunches are pretty basic, dinner can be more sophisticated and prices are higher. Still, I suspect Mama’s is the kind of place my wife would like. The odds we’ll be back are pretty high.

Tip: because the building is carved out of a former bank, it has a protected drive-through window. You can call in orders to be picked up.

Mama Mia’s
5394 Five Forks Trickum Road
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770) 469-1199

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There are a couple ways of getting here from Snellville, but I recommend going down Five Forks Trickum. You can get to this place heading down 78 and exiting near the Wall-Mart, and then heading down Rockbridge, but I think getting onto 5 Forks from Ronald Reagan, or Oak Road, or Killian Hills is a better local solution. The ride is much simpler. If you do this, Mama Mia’s will be on the left a half block or so before the intersection of 5 Forks and Rockbridge. Your view of Mama Mia’s is partly obscured by trees, so be warned.

On Scenic Highway (Highway 124) in Snellville, there is an Olive Garden now open. I know, because I’ve driven past it, but haven’t had a chance to try it. My wife has long been a fan of the linguini fra diavolo at OG. Also of note is that Lobster House (a grill and sushi place) is now open. It’s very gaudy. In looks, it reminds me of a small casino on the Red or Mississippi River.

Lobster House, on Pleasant Hill in Duluth. It's where the old Smokey Bones used to be.

Also of note is a new sushi place roughly on the corner of Dogwood and Five Forks Trickum Road.

Sushi in .. I believe this corner is formally Lawrenceville, actually.

Again, this is a place I know of, but have had no time to try. My wife is recovering from surgery and it has taken a toll on my food blogging.

It lives in one of the oldest buildings in Shreveport, so old it’s on the National Registry. The section of town is hardly the best, and it’s only open at lunch. But the look, outside and inside, has to be seen to be believed, and they serve what they call a muffy, so designated (so my father tells me) because Fertitta’s was sued when they tried to use the phrase “muffuletta”.

The "small" muffy. The large one is bigger than my spread hand.

Fertitta’s muffy is an original, in part because of the home made olive salad they use, in part because it’s a sweeter olive salad than most. It doesn’t transport me the way the muffuletta at E. 48th Street Market Italian did, but something with a near 80 year history deserves some respect. I enjoyed the sandwich, enjoyed the meal, loved the ambience. The ambience alone makes this something of a “must visit” for a food aficionado in the Shreveport area.

Fertitta’s Delicatessen
1124 Fairfield Ave
Shreveport, LA 71101
(318) 424-5508

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Carino’s advertises itself to be “country Italian”. Exactly what that means is a mystery I never resolved while I was there. I walked in rather late, and ended up eating near the bar, with Carino’s bartender being my waitress. She was very good. Bartenders tend to be that, excellent in delivering service.

This Carino’s is next to Discovery Mills, on the northeast corner, and pretty much impossible to miss. When I entered, the restaurant was perhaps  half full and the plates of  food, what I could see of  them, were very large. I’m suspecting that’s what they mean by country Italian: we feed you like you’re a farmer in Italy.

As an appetizer I had a calamari dish. For an entree, I had a salmon dish that day, substituting vegetables for the angel hair pasta that normally would accompany this dish. It was good fish, cooked properly, and tasty. The vegetables were good, the chunks of artichoke very welcome. The dish, because the vegetables were moist, left a lot of liquid in the bottom of the rounded bowl in which the dish was placed. Hey, not as if the plate was designed for veggies, anyway.

I enjoyed myself largely. This was mostly a first impression, so take that in consideration. I’m not telling you how this place performs during rush hour.

Carino’s Italian
1802 North Brown Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
(678) 847-6300

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Brio is a pretty restaurant, nestled on the west side of Ashford Dunwoody. It’s almost too pretty for me, but given the hour I chose to eat, and the near total lack of choices around 3pm, I tried this place and was not disappointed.

I had a good bowl of bisque and a grilled bit of trout. There were real bits of lobster in the creamy bisque and the light sauce on the trout didn’t mask the delicate flavor of the fish. It’s large inside, roomy, dozens of places to sit. The equally large kitchen here is open to view, and the kitchen top is made of marble. Oh yeah, this place is a couple steps above the wings and beer crowd.

Service is attentive and superb, staff all in white and  sporting ties. Now, fair warning, as I was here during the “off off hours”, my experience isn’t typical of any meal during normal attendance and any kind of rush hour. But the brief impression I had was all good.

Brio Tuscan Grille
700 Ashwood Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30338
(678) 587-0017

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Mad Italian. Easy to find, just off 285 heading east, perhaps the easiest of the Savoy Drive restaurants to see along the Interstate. Great commuter stop, especially when the Loop resembles a parking lot. Known for cheese steaks, so I was developing an interest, yes.

Foodie Buddha, the Enlightened One, has troubled more with cheesesteaks than many (posts here and here), and on the latter link some time back, I said what I thought of steaks. It is indeed true that the best I ever had came from a basement cafeteria at the University of Pennsylvania, using provolone cheese and a lot of those spicy cherry peppers the Philadelphians favor. I had my share of street steaks back in the day. The basics of a cheese steak are simple: inexpensive cheese, lots of onions, inexpensive thin sliced steak. It’s in the execution that it succeeds or fails.

By that criterion, I think Mad Italian’s steak is a success. Dripping with cheese, I’d have liked a few more onions, and I was slow asking if they had hot cherry peppers. Otherwise I think this steak is pretty stinkin’ good. Drippy cheese is everywhere. The onions they do have add to the flavor. The roll is soft and doesn’t get in the way. A pair of thumbs up from this commuter.

Mad Italian
2197 Savoy Drive
Chamblee, GA 30341
(770) 451-8048

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