There is no shortage of pizza places in Atlanta, but not many of them are as authentic Naples as Varuni Napoli. This Tuesday, May 23, 2017, the second location of Luca Varuni’s eponymous pizza joint will open in Krog Street Market.
(Note: I did attend this event at no cost in exchange for writing this post. However, all opinions are my own.)
Chef Luca opened his doors this week for a preview of the new location. Friends, family, bloggers, and other media were in attendance. When I first arrived, I met a couple of people who are frequent diners at the original Varuni Napoli, located on Monroe Drive. They were exuberant about their love of the place and stated they visit about once a week!
After checking in, I wound my way through the crowd to the counter. I placed my order for a Porecca Piccante pizza and a Negroni on draft. Receiving my number and cocktail, I again traversed the other guests and found a seat at the counter. I made myself comfortable on the tractor seat stool, hung my bag on the convenient hook under the counter, and waited. It took about 5 minutes to get my pizza.
YES! The pizza was at my seat before I could even completely settle in. With all those other people ordering pizzas and getting theirs in record time, too!
One of the servers made mention of the speedy service which led to a question about how it was possible. Each pizza is indeed made to order with fresh ingredients. The dough is hand-tossed and formed as the orders come in. The toppings are then placed, the pizza is moved to a peel, and then is transported to the beautiful wood-fired pizza oven. The oven is kept at a HOT 850º Fahrenheit. This is how the pizzas are ready so quickly. Nice!
The pizza was de-lish. Made with fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, hot soppressata, cherry tomatoes, Nduja, Calabrian peppers, Pecorino Romano, and basil. There was definitely some heat to the pie, but with a fantastic flavor. The crust was thin and a great balance between crispy and chewy. The fresh ingredients worked well together and made for a great spicy pizza pie experience.
While enjoying the pizza, I was also highly enjoying my Negroni. As I mentioned above, the Varuni Napoli Negroni is on tap. They are the only restaurant in the Atlanta area that features the classic Italian libation on tap.
Made with Ford’s Gin, Antica Vermouth, and Campari with a dash of The Bitter Truth Wood bitters, this was such a great choice to pair with a wood-fired pizza. For speed of service and accuracy of recipe, especially in a loud and busy food hall like KSM, putting the cocktail on draft was a smart move.
Salads and Bubbles
OK, so I got my food out of order. I’m adult, I can eat how I want! Ahem, excuse me, where was I? Oh, yes. I decided to check out the salads as well. And when the woman next to me ordered a glass of Prosecco, heck yeah I jumped on that train! I received my glass of the bubbly stuff and my bowl of the signature Varuni salad. This was a large bed of spring mix and arugula with mixed tomatoes tossed in the house balsamic. It was topped with a healthy layer of Proscuitto di Parma and candied pecans. Very refreshing and the sweet crunch of the pecans balanced the prosciutto nicely.
The staff of Varuni Napoli made the experience extra special. Chef Luca mingled with guests, answering questions while keeping the open kitchen humming along. Our servers were attentive, charming, and knowledgeable about the food, drinks, kitchen, all of it. The pizza crew was on top of their game all the way to the end. I finally made it over to watch them making pizzas as the evening was winding down and they were still smiling, upbeat, and chugging right along.
I don’t make it downtown as often as I like, but I will definitely find a reason to do so once Varuni Napoli is officially open. If for nothing else, dessert. Though there was no dessert available at the preview, I saw a Nutella bucket and asked about it. Turns out there will be a handmade Nutella filled cannoli soon. No, I will not miss out on that!
When you’re in Atlanta, if you are with a group and are looking for someplace to nosh, take a trip to Krog Street Market and be sure to visit Varuni Napoli.