Once you’ve bellied up to the cozy tasting room’s bar like an urbane, sophisticated cowboy, you’ll be treated to a few flavorful wafts and quaffs of Montaluce's finest 2008 and 2009 red and white wines, fermented from the carefully maintained fruits of its 35-acre vineyard. The 2008 chardonnay massages the nose with aromas of green apples, pear, and lemon zest mixed with smoke, walnut, and honeysuckle. And the 2008 risata (Italian for laughter) will put your palate into hysterics with notes of cherries, raspberries, cranberry, savory herbs, and just the faintest hint of Joker venom. Otherwise, go snorkeling for the dark chocolate notes buried in the oaky, deep violet, kraken-filled deeps of the cabernet sauvignon. Much like wine itself, your experience at Montaluce will be different depending on the exact point in time you partake of it. Gracious guests who arrive for their wine flight Tuesday through Saturday will be treated to a complimentary guided winery tour at 2 p.m. Likewise, Sunday sippers can tune their taste buds to live musical performances on the veranda from noon to 5 p.m.
At Buckhead Pizza Co.'s three locations kitchens bustle as chefs simmer house-made sauce and bake Atlanta-style thin-crust pizzas to a golden brown in 500-degree ovens. They toss fresh regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free dough and make each pie to order before covering it in signature toppings such as Atlanta steak with caramelized onions and blue cheese. The charming pizzeria also fills cherry-wood tables with crispy flatbreads, calzones, and bubbling pans of lasagna. Diners take a break from the sun and his unreasonable demands for pizza sacrifices under the outdoor patio's awning, enjoying breezy sunset dinners or cocktail hours filled with frosty brews and red and white wines from the full bar.
With its fresh menu concept and daily house-made pastas and sauces, Mirko Pasta brings hearty fulfillment to stomachs haunted by a persistent sense of emptiness. Diners control their flavor fates via a choose-your-own-adventure menu that allows them to concoct customized pasta and sauce combinations. The ranks of ravioli come packed with tasty fillings, such as four Italian cheeses and the granny smith apples and sausage ($4.99), while the long pasta and short pasta scrumpitously set aside their superficial differences (both $3.99). With 11 sauces to choose from, including meaty bolognese, basil-pomodoro, and pesto, guests can douse their fusilli in whatever tomato batter strikes their fancy ($3.99). A full roster of wines and domestic and imported beers flood thirsty noodle-holes before desserts, including cannoli ($4.99), cap off the meal.
Parma Tavern's stolid stone exterior and luxurious, dark-wood bar house a cornucopia of epicurean edibles that draws inspiration from both Italian originals and singular American creations. Opening acts such as the spinach and artichoke fondue ($8) warm up taste-bud crowds for main events, which include the Maytag burger, backed by the solid-gold gruyere and onion dancers ($9.50), and the pomodoro-sporting, "O Solo Mio"-belting chicken parmesan, crusted in herb breadcrumbs and draped in a cape of mozzarella ($12). Brunch, served every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., boasts such border-blurring sandwiches as the S.P.O., whose two fried eggs, sweet sausage, roasted red peppers, and onions render stomachs contentedly confused about the time of day ($7).
Serving up authentic, organic fare, Lucci's Little Italy hosts a Mediterranean menu medley of fresh and fragrant pizza, pasta, and authentic Italian desserts. Revel in a rotund cup of fagioli soup ($2.95), or calm surly stomachs with a crostini-kissed prosciutto salad, with Italian ham, mozzarella, fresh tomato, and basil oil on a crunchy bed of romaine ($9.95). Unlike baked Alaska, baked pastas such as oven-baked lasagna ($8.95) and baked ziti ($8.95) do not require taste buds to hitchhike through Canada. Pizza disks arrive in 7- and 10-inch formats, loaded with meatballs ($6.95/$9.95), chicken-pesto displays ($8.95/$11.95), and chicken alfredo, spinach, and dried-cranberry combinations ($9.85/$12.95).
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 350 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.