Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Enrico Liberato Lights Up Buckhead With Fuoco di Napoli

Enrico Liberato, the piazzaiolo from Naples who worked for Fritti, later Antico Pizza, and still later Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria, just opened his very own pizzeria! Located at 30 Pharr Road in Buckhead, Fuoco di Napoli's space was previously home to neighborhood watering hole McTighe's before it closed. A resident of Atlanta all my life, I'd say it's only in the past 3 years or so, that I realized there was another side to Pharr Road! Pharr Road can be found on both sides of Peachtree Road, and Fuoco is found on the side behind the former Three Dollar Cafe.

Fuoco, fire in Italian, is a good name for the pizzeria where so much of the taste has to do with the oven and flame. Liberato's Fuoco, like Giovanni Di Palma's Antico Pizza Napoletana, is located in a less than prime location but clearly the hope is that the food will bring the people. While yesterday was day 1 of the restaurant, I can find no indication of alcohol offerings so perhaps Liberato will follow Di Palma's lead in being BYOB.

Fuoco opens at a time when Buckhead has seen a sharp increase in pizza offerings. Already home to contemporary Italian Pricci from Buckhead Life, Nancy's Pizza and Buckhead Pizza Company, a crop of new artisan pizzerias have opened over the past few years. Most notably, Varasano's Pizzeria opened in 2009 on the lobby level of the Mezzo condos in south Buckhead.

This past September, Smyrna-based Blue Moon Pizza opened their third location, at 325 East Paces Ferry Road, on the street level of the 325 condos. Not long after, the guys that brought Buckhead La Fourchette, opened Tartufo Italian Pizzeria in the former Edward's Pipe shop in La Fourchette's adjoining space on Piedmont Road.

Though not to the caliber of any of the aforementioned pizza joints, it's worth mentioning that Piu Bello, another pizzeria, is located within the Disco Kroger shopping Center at 3330 Piedmont, and Pizzeria Venti is located in Lenox Village on Lenox Road. Also, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has a location within Lenox Square and casual pizzeria Fellini's has two locations in Buckhead, one on Peachtree Road, the other on Roswell Road. Of course, I can't omit the Pizza Hut on Piedmont Road near the Lindbergh MARTA station.

Riccardo Ullio, who first hired Liberato at his Inman Park eatery Fritti, was said to be opening a second location as part of the redevelopment of the former Sears auto center on West Paces Ferry, but those plans have since been shelved. Instead, Brian Lewis, owner of the Westside's popular Bocado eatery, will open an as yet unnamed eatery at the redeveloped Sears auto property, and you guessed it, will feature Italian fare! Lewis plans to focus on pizza but will also offer a serious wine program. He hopes to open in February.

A friend of mine recently moved to the condos not far from Fuoco and I drove by it numerous times unsure what the heck was going on. Now knowing Liberato is behind it, I have hope that it will be a success. Perhaps a test menu of sorts, there's not much to choose from but pies range from $13-17 in addition to a calzone and salad option.

Do you live in the neighborhood and are a little overwhelmed by all the pizza options? Do you like that there are so many pizza options in the area, at various quality and price levels? Do you miss McTighe's? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Anonymous said...

just an fyi, it's pizzaiolo - it would be a if he were a she! i must go here asap.

Atlantan99 said...

Right you are! A careless mistake now corrected. If yo go soon, please share your experience as a comment here.

Thanks for the quick catch and for reading the blog!

Atlantan99 said...

Almost forgot!

Pero's Pizza and Pasta has been serving the Buckhead community for 37 years at Northside and West Paces Ferry. Not uber close to Fuoco, but should be mentioned as its remained a local favorite for so long.

Sean Bateman said...

It is great that ATL now has great pizza in numerous locations around the city. But I am already tired of this pizza craze. Not to mention every other new retaurant in town is Italian or "Italian Inspired."

Let's have some more originality here..

I really do miss McTighes. That dark little watering hole was my home away from home for many years. The service industry would flock there after dinner shifts. No frills & good times. It gave a little soul and credibility to the cheesy Buckhead scene.

Festis, my favorite bartender, poured the best damn pint of Guinness in town..

Katherine Malone said...

We LOVE Piu Bello. I am a native NJ/NYC gal and their pies are about as close as we can come in Buckhead to the real slices in NYC!

gator32301 said...

definitely miss McTighes, save for the unbearable Steeler fans during football season. closed the place many a night after softball games at Frankie Allen.

Anonymous said...

I'm SO TIRED of people that say they are SO TIRED of the pizza craze, burger craze, fro yo craze, etc. If you don't want more options then just keep going to your same ol' place. You don't have to try any of these new places. I for one am glad that we have options. Have these people not ever been to other major cities like New York where a pizza joint is literally on every block and most corners? I'm looking forward to this new restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I think it's worth noting, seeing as how pizza hut was thrown into the mix, there are multiple dominos and papa johns in buckhead as well.

Many are also unaware, but Whole Foods also has a fire pizza oven inside. The slices are the size of Fellini's, but quality is obviously far superior with their ingredients down to the non bleached dough.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah - There is a mellow mushroom in SoBu & Brookhaven as well - along with Corner Pizza in Brookhaven.

I am just now realizing how insanely saturated with pizza my work / home neighborhood is.

alienchow said...

I'm actually looking forward to trying this. I still haven't found anything in Atlanta to beat Rocky's Brick Oven. I consider it sacrilege that there is a Mellow Mushroom there now. Rocky's was truly world class. Even the Mozzarella was made in house.

Anonymous said...

Never ceases to amaze me how many people who know next to nothing about pizza claims so and so pizzeria has the best NYC pizza, such as Piu Bello. PB "bakes" their fake NY style pizza in aerated pans as evident by the round little circles on the bottom. It has no char nor any flavors. Most of these people claiming there is NY pizza here are not native NYers, merely just visitors who lived there for a year in some suburb 45 mins out of Manhattan.
Fuoco di Napoli is not NY pizza, its Napolentana pizza. It is very good and Antico finally has a major competitor. All the others listed in this post are a joke. Tarufo won't even dare to use wood in their dual oven because they don't want to mess it up.
Comparing the best pizza to Rocky's? Puh-leez.

TheJohnP said...

I've followed Enrico at almost all the spots he's worked at with exception of Max's. The fact he keeps jumping around makes me wonder if he's difficult to work with. Maybe now that he's his own boss, he will plant some roots. I wish him well, he makes a damn fine pie.

Ty Webb said...

Wonder why so many new pizza places are popping up? (besides it is one of Atlanta's new obsession)

Because pizza SO cheap for the restaurant to make. A pizza that costs the consumer $16 costs the restairant about $2 or $3 for the ingredients(including dough & sauce).

A composed beef, pork or seafood entree of that same price costs the restuarant upwards of $8. That is a HUGE difference in profit margin.

You can make some serious money on a busy pizza joint. And not even have to sell beer & wine....

Good for the pizza enthusiast that we have many new gourmet pizza places around town. Proprietors of these gourmet pizza places are raking it in... and good for them.

Anonymous said...

Very excited about this! We live at Paces 325 and although Blue Moon is good, it is pricey. We love Antico, but it is always crowded and a drive. With this within walking distance and being able to bring your own wine, I know it will be busy soon!

Anonymous said...

I heard Enrico was deported recently.

Jim said...

Italian restaurants make up more than 10% of New York City's finest dining establishments, so why shouldn't there be a generous plenty of them in Atlanta?

The more Italian food, the merrier!