Fuoco di Napoli opened last December on Pharr Road in a space that had then most recently housed McTighe's, a local bar. When the restaurant opened, the traditional Neapolitan pizzas were made by Enrico Liberato, previously of Fritti, Antico Pizza and Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria. Liberato was been hired by the McDowell family to be their pizzaioli to attempt to recreate the popularity of Antico Pizza. The McDowells had apparently already worked with Enrico before, at Antico no less, when they partnered with Giovanni Di Palma for "Antico Express," a food truck. The McDowells (then only Lori and Dino) purchased precooked pies from Antico and then sold them either as pies, or by the slice, at events around the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
During this time, D.H. McDowell Family LLLP owned a 20% stake in Antico Holdings, during which time they had “access to and knowledge of the Antico Trade Dress and Trade Secrets used in connection with the operation of Antico Pizza.” D.H. McDowell Family LLLP sold its share of Antico Holdings on May 6, 2011, for roughly a quarter of a million dollars.
In March of this year, Liberato was booked on a number of charges including aggravated assault and an immigration charge that apparently led to his deportation. Fortunately, he had been training the McDowells and their employees on how to make the pies perfectly.
In April, Giovanni Di Palma via Antico Pizza Napoletana filed a federal "intellectual property - trademark" lawsuit against Fuoco Di Napoli. The lawsuit named not only Lori and Dino McDowell, but also Jackie and Dennis McDowell, as defendents, but not Enrico. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants intentionally misled consumers to make them think there was a connection between the two pizza shops.
The restaurant seemed to be doing ok, not as well as Antico, but not on the verge of closure. Apparently it closed Tuesday night, but according to the restaurant's Facebook page, it will be "expanding its offering of authentic Neapolitan pizza to retail locations very shortly."
What do think of all this? Do think the restaurant's closure was related to its legal battle with Antico? Would you buy Fuoco's pizza from a "retail location?" Where is your favorite pie?