Thanks to its diverse dishes and sundry dining settings, The Porch at Collier wears many hats. There's its traditional dining room, where romantic couples luxuriate in the dinner menu's delicate pastas and house-smoked chicken amid plum-colored drapes and flower-topped tables. There's the lounge, which surrounds friends with wicker lamps and leafy plants as they revel in televised sports and sip one of 12 draft beers, and the café, whose neon-lined walls peppered with framed photographs create a classy atmosphere in which to savor the late-night menu. Finally, there's the eatery's namesake—an expansive rooftop porch—lined with wooden tables—that lets diners enjoy gourmet lunchtime fare or attempt to topple Icarus' record for getting close to the sun. Each of the restaurant's contemporary American creations is crafted with local, sustainable ingredients and a minimal dependence on artificial preservatives, ensuring that dining experiences are both decadent and eco-friendly.
Dave Pazienza first donned a toque in the kitchen of his father's restaurant where he learned family recipes from his fellow Italian chefs. He emerged from that experience eager to share those culinary traditions with as many people as possible, which he does from behind the counter at Artuzzi's Italian Kitchen. Tables gaze directly into the open kitchen, allowing guests to watch as cooks reduce steaming pots of wine, cream, and spices or whittle each individual strand of pasta. Extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and eight signature sauces invigorate the platefuls of freshly cut linguini or imported, whole-wheat penne.
From the pizza oven, scents hint at more than 20 toppings including granny smith apples, gorgonzola cheese, capers, and herb-roasted chicken. The dining room's pastel yellow and orange walls mirror the warmth of the oven beneath vintage-inspired paintings of pasta and wicker-wrapped chianti bottles.
Crescent Avenue in Atlanta’s Midtown is a great little row of restaurants and bars, with a full range of options from Irish pubs to upscale seafood. On the most casual end of the scale is a Florida beach-themed spot called Flip Flops. There is a pizza kitchen offering pies or pretzels, but it’s best to show up at Flip Flops later in the evening for drinks with friends instead. If Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (the song or the restaurant) puts a smile on your face, then you will feel right at home at Flip Flops, with its tiki island décor and patio seating. There’s ample space to meet up with friends for a drink before heading to one of the destination restaurants on Crescent Avenue, but beware: Flip Flops does have a serious frat party reunion vibe. Just go with the flow and you should have a great time.
Amuse!’s airy, bohemian atmosphere welcomes guests with fresh ingredients and imaginative French dishes. For brunch, patrons can nosh on a light breakfast such as the toasty croque monsieur sandwich filled with black forest ham and béchamel cheese ($12), or sample sweet crepes filled with Nutella, jam, or fresh fruit (three for $7). Dinnertime customers initiate ingestive engines with sea scallops au gratin served with swiss cheese ($14) before moving to main courses such as the duo of duck-leg confit and duck breast ($24).
Visiting Bone Lick BBQ is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Inside, a skee-ball machine from 1945 stands alongside classic tabletop arcade games, and old school rock n' roll spins atop a record player (patrons can even bring in their own vinyl and get a complimentary PBR for their effort). Further entertainment comes in the form of TVs above the bar and the occasional live act, including comedy every Wednesday evening.
Even with such a fun, laid-back atmosphere, the food still shines at Bone Lick. Its chefs rub beef, pork, and chicken in secret spice blends, then cook them for hours on end over hickory and pecan woods. While the meat cooks, the chefs stay extremely busy—they make everything on their menu from scratch every day.
They bake corn bread, braise collards in pork, and blend jalapeños into mac 'n' cheese. They also whip up homemade pickles and cider slaw to lay atop pulled-pork sandwiches on griddled texas toast. Even the cotton candy, funnel cakes, and Granny Pearl's pecan pie are made in-house, though no one knows how Ms. Pearl keeps sneaking into the kitchen unnoticed.
At the bar, which is made from recycled shipping pallets, mixologists concoct creative cocktails, such as bacon old-fashions. They also send out crisp Georgia drafts and American-crafted whiskies.
Vespucci’s Pizza and Pasta is a great lunch spot in Midtown Atlanta for anyone craving real New York-style pizza. Located close to the Woodruff Arts Center, the small, casual eatery also makes for a convenient place to fill up before or after a trip to the High Museum, or on a break from work. They blend their own sauces in-house, and infuse the flavors into everything from pizza and pasta to calzones and panini. In warmer weather, there are a few patio tables out front, with a faux-rustic indoor atmosphere that’s heavy on black and white photographs and old Italian signage. There’s a lot to be proud of here: Vespucci’s is still family-run after more than fifteen years, and remains one of the few proudly un-corporate establishments left on Peachtree Street. It also works well as a place to meet up with friends for a drink after work.