Fellow ACS CCP™ and friend, Allin Tallmadge, returned “Behind the Counter” at the new Storico Fresco Alimentari (“Historical Fresh Food”), in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood. The Man and I ventured into the city last week to check out his new digs and stock up on a few of the delicacies offered.
First point: Finding this restaurant is a bit of a challenge even with a GPS… however, it is worth it. 3167 Peachtree Road is a corner mini-mall with a below ground level area that faces Grandview Avenue and that is where Storica Fresco Alimentari is located. To further complicate finding this establishment, the signage has not been installed to the front of the restaurant…so if you don’t know where you’re going, you might miss this jewel. This map from their website helps.
Second point: Sadly, until now, it was difficult, if not impossible, to find fresh, authentic Italian food in the South. Italian-American restaurants, which are good and abundant, cannot deliver anything close to the pasta and dishes you find on almost every corner in Rome. In 2011, I spent a week in Italy, attending “Cheese”, the Slow Food Cheese Festival, and every meal was better than the last… finally, right here in Atlanta, you can have the same dining experience.
Co-Owner, Chef Michael Patrick, trained in both New York City and Italy where he learned to make classical Italian dishes. His desire to bring true Italian food to Atlanta started at the Peachtree Road Farmers’ Market where he sold his fresh pastas and sauces (SFA is still a regular at the market as is Many Fold Farm). He developed a following of fans (and rightfully so). He and Allin met at the market and their friendship grew out of their love of authentic Italian food including Italian cheeses.
Russell Hays of Restaurant Eugene fame, runs the open and spotlessly clean kitchen where the pastas, sauces, breads and dishes are prepared from scratch. The fresh pastas are cut rather than extruded. The sauces are made from quality ingredients, most of which are imported from Italy.
Currently SFA serves lunch fare that includes Tuna with Cannellini beans, Lemon olive oil, red onion and parsley; fried Squash Blooms stuffed with Ricotta and Mozzarella; handmade raviolis filled with Cotechino, Sweet Sausage, Grana Padano and Ricotta; Salads; Paninis and a Prosciutto Tasting that features meats aged 16, 24 and 30 months. In the near future, dinner will be added but currently they close at 6pm.
In addition to the fresh pastas and the cheese and meat counter, reach-ins cover one wall and are filled with Grab and Go sauces, pre-packed cheeses (like Mozzarella du Bufalo and Mascarpone) and ready for the oven dishes like Lasagna.
Allin has created a more than respectable Italian cheese case with the “basics”, which means lots of DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) cheeses, including Parmigiana Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Toscano, Taleggio, Grana Padano, La Tur and Robiola. As business grows and the holidays approach, Allin plans to expand the selection and offer more Pecorinos, less common Tommes, hard cheeses and surface-ripened, delicate disks of gooey, lactic pleasures.
I bought three different fresh pastas ($7 a pound – a dollar cheaper than Whole Foods Market) and two raviolis – one with asparagus and the other with sausage ($14 and $16 a pound), Bolognese and Crema sauces plus Buffalo Mozzarella and a wedge of Grana Padano (which I will review in a stand-alone posting in the coming days). Jordan, the retail counter manager, wrapped my pastas and included fresh sage with a recipe card to make a brown butter sage sauce. She mentioned that the pasta can be frozen and if so, to add it frozen to the boiling water when preparing. I found the pasta just didn’t taste quite as good after being frozen as it did fresh. However, it was much better than any dried pasta; so the trade-off is minimal.
The mozzarella became part of a Caprese Salad with fresh basil from my herb garden and CSA tomatoes from Jan and Zen’s Garden, my weekly farm-fresh vegetable and fruit purveyor. I topped it with a little fresh-ground pepper, EVOO and a Modena reduction – it was perfection!!
I’ll be returning soon and bringing more delicacies back to The Manse and Northeast Georgia.
If Spaulding were still around, no doubt he would give Storico Fresco Alimentari 4 Paws… as do I!!!
NEXT KELLY’S JELLY AND 34 DEGREES CRISPS GIVEAWAY: Starts tomorrow!!
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