Though Bassanos Pizzeria doesn't open until noon, its chefs bustle about the kitchen in the early morning, preparing fresh batches of dough from scratch. As the day wears on, the team hand-tosses the dough into thin, New York–style canvases ready to hold layers of gourmet meats, fine cheeses, and, according to Ann Marie Quill of Johns Creek Patch, veggies plucked from the Atlanta Farmers Market and sauces made from Italian tomatoes. Pots bubble with specialty pastas, and ovens glow with plump calzones and stromboli.
At the bar, servers dole out glasses of draft beer and wine beneath glimmering television sets. Cushy booths and tabletops speckle the dining room, where framed photographs of New York ballplayers look to steal home from the bright-red walls. Outside, umbrellas shade a fenced-in patio rife with tables and chairs. The pizzeria’s warm staff prides itself on southern-style service, creating a fun, communal atmosphere by hosting biweekly live music, overseeing trivia games, and politely allowing customers to beat them at thumb wrestling.
Each Natural Foods Warehouse provides shoppers with all-natural and specialty items including those from popular brands such as Garden of Life, Kinnikinnick, New Chapter, and Nature's Path. Knowledgeable staffers guide patrons by the hand or by Pig Latin–encoded messages over the stores' loudspeakers, broadcasting where to find diet-specific items such as Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers. Busy professionals can augment diets with supplements such as Garden of Life Raw One Multivitamin 75-count ($25.78), and thirsty shoppers, easily identified by their tendency to lick condensation from frozen-food cases, can sate cravings with Zevia natural sugar-free soda ($3.99/six-pack). A variety of wines, including many varietals by Crane Lake ($4.21/bottle), accommodate adults planning elegant spin-the-bottle parties.
The bold flavors of Cuba take center stage at Palomilla's Grill House. The chefs specialize in traditional Cuban recipes, from plates of crispy fried plantains to tender pork roasted in a blend of tropical juices, mojo sauce, and garlic. They incorporate a wide range of ingredients to craft whole fried red snapper to creamy flan made with a hint of coconut. Although they stick to more traditional recipes for dishes, the staff find room to experiment more behind the bar and their in-home chemistry labs. Bartenders mix together six styles of mojitos using the restaurant's signature homemade mojito mix and a variety of Caribbean rums. These drinks help give guests the courage necessary to hit the dance floor during live music showcases on the weekend.
Keso Mexican Grill rouses the palates of Johns Creek and its surrounding communities with sizzling Mexican dishes that pack bold flavors. Inside, a contemporary vibe seeps from the restaurant’s stone walls. Standing guard as the dining room’s centerpiece, a large stone Olmec head watches over meals with far more authority than the mustached scarecrow that also tried out for the job. As a group of friends crisscrosses forks over shared tapas at one table, a waiter delivers a still-steaming steak to another. Along the dark marble bar, glasses of wine, beer, and tequila clink beneath the flickering glow of flat-screen TVs, which are perched above rows of bottles behind the bar.
Inspired by owner Bruce Cohn's longing for the treasured deli fare of New York—where he had previously lived—Grouchy's beckons its visitors to "come taste the city" across a spacious menu of breakfast and lunch favorites. Groups can channel New York flavor through a catering menu of deli bagels, soups, and specialty sandwiches, such as the Grand Slam Breakfast Platter, designed for 10 or more early amassers, featuring various combinations of scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, and cheese on bagels or croissants.
Sinbad's Feast specializes in fresh, authentic Mediterranean cuisine, served as a bountiful buffet ($8.95 for lunch; $12.95–$14.95 for dinner) or off of an à la carte menu. Appease appetites with a starter of kashke badamjoon, a creamy dip made with eggplant, fried onion, mint, garlic, and whey ($6), or most-o esfenaj, a tangy yogurt spread with sautéed spinach ($4). Dinner entrees come with basmati rice and grilled tomatoes, and most morsels are prepared over an open flame to enhance flavor and set the mood for the kitchen staff's ghost stories. Platefuls include savory meygoo, an oxymoronic ode to jumbo shrimp, marinated with fresh garlic, herbs, and smoked paprika ($20), and barreh, a rack of lamb flavored with fresh mint, garlic, and lemon ($24). Vegetarians can make merry with meat-free meals, such as the veggie entree with grilled and marinated zucchini, eggplant, onion, and bell pepper ($13).