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.
A healthy lifestyle can only happen with access to healthy food. And that was the impetus for Natural Foods Warehouse founder Alan Purcell to build his store: to give his community easy access to natural foods and wholesome vitamins. The shelves of the store’s four expansive locations are packed with specialty products, ranging from sugar-free drinks to vitamins and supplements from popular brands such as Garden of Life and New Chapter and Amazing Grass brand superfoods. Towering refrigerators house organic dairy and eggs, while a wine section is stocked with quaffable varietals. A knowledgeable staff guides 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.
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.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
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.