Thursday, June 27, 2019

Donetto: Authentic Italian Pizzas, Pastas, and Brunch

Donetto is an Italian restaurant on Atlanta’s West Side. Unlike most Italian restaurants in the city, Donetto specializes in Tuscan cuisine, which truly sets it apart. This means shareable plates and meat-driven dishes, including steak Florentine.

The restaurant has also recently added a pizza section to its menu, which boasts a lovely selection of handmade pizzas to suit a range of tastes and dietary preferences. Keep reading to find out how. 

Because you want authentic Italian pizza, but with a fun modern twist.

Sleek and cool, with a hint of mid-century modern.
Donetto interior (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Outside, there’s a lovely patio with string lights and a huge fire pit.
Donetto's outdoor patio (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Try one of the cocktails.

The netspritz & chill is Donetto’s take on the classic Aperol spritz, with the addition of Campari and vodka. And the encore cocktail is great if you’re a fan of spirit-forward, not-too-sweet drinks.
The netspritz & chill cocktails at Donetto (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Donetto is also one of the few Atlanta restaurants with an extensive amaro list. An after-diner glass of this herby, slightly bitter liqueur is a classic Italian move, but if you’re not sure how to choose one, ask your server or bartender for help.
The encore cocktail at Donetto (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Check out the pizza portion of the menu. All the pizzas are handmade to order and cooked in the restaurant’s wood burning pizza oven.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fungo pizza, which is topped with roasted mushrooms and creamy taleggio cheese (peep the first pic in this post). 

Another standout is the prosciutto pizza, which, in addition to prosciutto, has buffalo mozzarella, mustard greens, and roasted garlic on it.
The prosciutto pizza from Donetto (c) Anna Lanfreschi

And Donetto also has a vegan pizza: It is topped with local peaches and fresh greens and has cashew cheese on it, but you wouldn’t know it's not made from animal milk. 

Donetto also has some of the best pasta in Atlanta. The ripiena and the bucatini are particularly memorable, but you cannot go wrong with any of their freshly made selections.
The yellowtail crudo -- a new dish to the Donetto menu (c) Anna Lanfreschi

What Donetto is really known for is the steak Florentine: Size and price vary daily depending on availability, but it is always large enough to serve two people, and it is cooked perfectly every time!

Donetto is located on the West Side, near The Painted Duck and the restaurant Aix. There is self and valet parking available in the adjacent deck.

The restaurant serves dinner nightly, and on Sundays, they have a great brunch program called Cosa Nostra. The brunch menu boasts southern twists on classic Italian dishes, such as the frittata with seasonal veggies or the cacio e pepe scramble.

Reservations are encouraged, especially for Sunday brunch, and you can make one on OpenTable.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New Taste Tuesday: Parish, the Brasserie and Neighborhood Café

Parish, theBrasserie and Neighborhood Café, is a beloved Inman Park restaurant that specializes in elevated American cuisine. The eatery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it’s really known for its brunch.

Read on to see what makes Parish’s brunch menu so special and why this restaurant is worth the trek through busy Inman Park on Sunday mornings.

Because you want a casual-yet-lovely brunch in a great setting. The interior of Parish is gorgeous, and there’s a shaded patio overlooking the Atlanta Beltline
The bar at Parish (c) Anna Lanfreschi

On the inside, this restaurant is a bit reminiscent of New Orleans, with exposed brick walls, wooden shutters, and chandelier lighting. Parish is situated in a restored pipe factory building and does a great job of fusing historic elements into its décor. Outside, a cute patio offers plenty of shade.
The outside patio at Parish (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Try the London Dry Chai cocktail.

Don’t let the name or the ingredients spook you – yes, this drink is made with gin, lemon, and chai syrup, but it is not overwhelmingly gin-y or tea-y. It’s actually very mild and a great option if you don’t like sweet cocktails. And it complements brunch dishes surprisingly well.
The London Dry Chai cocktails: gin, lemon, chai syrup. Not too sweet and great for brunch (c) Anna Lanfreschi

#PROTIP: Definitely, absolutely, 100% start with Parish’s sweet potato cinnamon roll!

Simply put, it is fantastic! Perfectly gooey and not too sweet, it’s an excellent start to your brunch at Parish.
The sweet potato cinnamon roll (center), Eggs  Hemingway (bottom), and Monte Cristo (top) at Parish (c) Anna Lanfreschi

For the main entrée, I loved the Eggs Hemingway.

This dish is a take on the classic Eggs Benedict, but made with house-smoked salmon and wilted spinach. Of course, it’s topped with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and served with your choice of grits or potatoes. I got the grits and am happy to report that Parish has the good kind of grits – they’re flavorful and not at all runny.
The Eggs Hemingway -- fantastic brunch dish at Parish in Atlanta (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Other great brunch options include the Monte Cristo sandwich and the acai smoothie bowl. Even though I didn’t try it, the crab omelette also looked excellent.

Parish islocated in Inman Park at 240 North Highland Avenue. It is adjacent to the Atlanta Beltline, so you can easily walk/bike/scoot here. If you’re driving, valet parking is available, but it has a two-hour limit. Street parking is also an option, though it tends to be near impossible to find on a nice day (or if there’s an event).

Friday, May 3, 2019

Get to know Monica Farber of Love Fancy Pants

Authenticity has become the buzzword of 2019, and few embody this concept better than Monica Farber. She is the face behind the blog Love Fancy Pants and @fantsypantsfarber Instagram account, and she is refreshingly, unapologetically herself.

Monica predominantly writes about fashion, but she also knows home décor, travel, and food. And there’s one common thread running through all of her content: From a vacation in Santorini to a Derby-themed home brunch, it’s got to be fancy.

She has a great eye for it, too, whether she’s planning a dinner party or picking out her outfit for a new restaurant opening. Monica doesn’t shy away from fanciness – she fully embraces it. And that is precisely why it’s so fun to follow her online and to hang out with her in IRL.

I had the pleasure of having brunch with Monica at Parish recently, where she opened up about her favorite Atlanta restaurants, how she finds where to eat when traveling abroad, and how to throw a restaurant-quality dining experience at home.

Anna: Hey Monica! Tell us about yourself!
Monica: My name is Monica Farber, I grew up in Atlanta, and I am the digital marketing manager for SouthernProper hospitality group, so I manage all the social media content for a number of restaurants here in Atlanta. Outside of the 9 to 5, I manage my persona blog. It’s called Love Fancy Pants, and I focus on fashion, food, travel, and fancy shit.

Anna: What drives the aesthetic behind your blog?
Monica: I have a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), and I took every art course – photography, oil painting, and all of these different things, so [the blog is] every single creative outlet meshed into one. I’ve always been all about fashion, but outside of that, I’m all about creating a beautiful table scape or doing a super crazy Pinterest party or building a gallery wall. I also throw in some travel, my favorite brunch place in Atlanta, oh, and hey, if you want to throw a brunch party at your house for all your girlfriends, here’s what you should make. It’s easy and you can only spend this much money and actually do something that looks like you pulled if off Pinterest. So it’s all the stuff that I enjoy doing in one place. It’s extra, it’s very extra.
Monica Farber, hostess with the mostess 

Anna: What are some of your tips for throwing a foodie party at home?
Monica: I like to pick a theme and stick to it. And more is more. So if you’re hosting a spring brunch, I’d probably go to the farmer’s market and see what’s in season. I work with a lot of chefs, so I’d probably see what they recommend, and I would have everything themed around that. Let’s say it’s near the Derby, so we’re going to have cucumber finger sandwiches, pimento cheese finger sandwiches, deviled eggs, mint juleps, champagne. I’m going to send out a paper invitation, and I’m going to be very specific that you have to wear a hat. Don’t show up to my brunch in sweatpants! Because it’s going to be a fancy brunch. A fancy pants brunch.
No sweatpants at this fancy brunch!

Anna: What about eating at a restaurant – what makes for a great dining experience, in your opinion?
Monica: The service. If you have food that’s phenomenal, but the service is shit, it kind of makes you think, “Great chef, shitty restaurant.” And vice versa. So, I like to incorporate a lot of photos of what the inside of the restaurant looks like [on my blog]. Some people think it’s more important to post the food, and it’s just a close up of the cinnamon roll or the close up of the BLT at Parish. Eh, I can get a cinnamon roll and a BLT at the Southern Gentleman and it’s killer, so why am I going to Parish? Well, because the restaurant is beautiful and because it backs up to the Beltline and because I’m going to picture myself being in there, including what kind of outfit I’ll wear. So it’s more than just the food – I think it’s everything from the service, to the food, to the ambiance.

Anna: What are some of your go-to restaurants in Atlanta?  
Monica: I really like Gio’sand Antico. More specifically Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano. You can literally make a half a day of it. The coolest thing about Gio’s is the food; the second coolest thing about it is BYOB. There’s no corkage fee, so we’ll go there with a whole group of friends, bottles of wine, and enjoy a ton of food. Their lemon chicken is delicious, but the best thing at Gio’s is the chicken parmesan, hands down. I’m obsessed with it! And then they have the gelato place next door, so you can just hang out there. So, I love Gio’s and Antico, and I know I’m biased because I work for Southern Proper, but I really like Gypsy Kitchen.
A side salad comes with every entree at Gio's Chicken Amalfitano

Top: Amalfi chicken, bottom: Chicken parmesan, both from Gio's Chicken Amalfitano
Anna: I love Gypsy Kitchen!
Monica: Right?! It’s what I was saying about the environment and the ambiance – yeah, the food is fantastic [at Gypsy Kitchen], but sitting on that patio in the spring, it’s just so much fun! Drinking the rosé or the sangria, eating olives and marinated mushrooms, charcuterie and cheese. I literally could live off of cheese.

Anna: Speaking of cheese, that whipped feta cheese at Gypsy Kitchen is so delicious!
Monica: Yes! Oh, and another one is Bocca Lupo. It is SO good! I ate there for my birthday this year – it’s Italian-American, with a touch of southern. All the pastas are made in-house, and it needs to be the very next place you go. I promise.

Anna: Do you have any tips for picking restaurants when you’re traveling? It can be overwhelming to go to a new place and have hundreds of restaurants to choose from.
Monica: You can look to a lot of travel bloggers, search hashtags for different cities, and just wander around. I’ll tell you what my absolute favorite thing to do is while traveling – don’t make reservations anywhere, but stop at one restaurant and have an appetizer and a cocktail. Stop at the next restaurant and have an appetizer and a cocktail. Stop at the next restaurant, maybe share an entrée, maybe go walk some more, or have a coffee or dessert. And I literally just at three or four different restaurants instead of having one big meal. Maybe if you find some place along the way that’s phenomenal, you can go back on another night and have a full meal, but I’m all about traveling and eating a little bit here, eating a little bit there. Basically, I just like to eat and drink all day!
Monica Farber in Santorini, Greece 

Anna: A little traveling food party – I like that a lot! Back home in Atlanta, what is your favorite neighborhood to get inspiration?
Monica:  Oh, Inman Park! Or Old Fourth Ward. About three years ago, I was asked to do an insider’s guide to Atlanta for Paprika Southern magazine, which is based out of Savannah. I spent a whole day hopping around different places [in Atlanta], Parish being one of them, and I put together a guide for someone who doesn’t live here if [they want to] spend the whole day eating and drinking and shopping in Atlanta. And when I was done, I looked at it, and I thought, “Oh my God, this entire thing is Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward!” And that’s because this is the best place for art and food and people watching and day drinking. If you want to day drink, hang out in Inman Park.
Monica Farber picking out treats in an NYC cafe

Anna: What is next for you? Anything exciting coming up?
Monica: In my professional career, we just opened a new restaurant called Street Taco at Marietta SquareMarket. And we have another restaurant that will be opening at the end of summer or early fall. It’s going to be called Hog Island in a development very similar to Avalon in Alpharetta. It’s going to be very fancy. Personally, I’m going to Italy in May, so I’ll be going to the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Florence, and Venice (I’m planning all my outfits for that now). And in either June or July, I’m going back to New York to see Moulin Rouge on Broadway and to have a photo shoot in Central Park. I’ll try to squeeze in the beach sometime this summer – with us being five hours away from Destin, we can’t not do that. And then I’ll be back at fashion week this September.

Thanks for chatting with me, Monica!

P.S.: All photos in this blog post are courtesy of Monica Farber. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New Taste Tuesday: Street Taco

A new Mexican restaurant is open inside Marietta Street Market. It’s called Street Taco, and it focuses on serving authentic Mexican street food and making staples like salsas and tortillas in house and from scratch.

The fast-casual eatery is, of course, known for tacos and street food favorites, like the esquites. But read on to see what else you should order for an awesome dinner experience.

Because it’s Taco Tuesday, duh! And maybe because you want to check out the new Marietta Street Market, but aren’t sure where to eat first. Street Taco is a great starting point.

Colorful and fun! There’s a full wall mural, bold art and café lighting throughout, all of which sets the perfect atmosphere for festive, warm-weather dining.
The full wall inside Street Taco (c)  Anna Lanfreschi

You can’t go wrong with the classic margarita. Made with silver tequila, agave and lime, and with or without salt on the rim, it’s a solid choice and a great start to your meal at Street Taco.
The classic margarita, on the rocks with salt (c) Anna Lanfreschi

For your main meal, grab some tacos. The blackened shrimp and the smoked brisket tacos come highly recommended, and 2-3 tacos should be plenty for each person.
The blackened shrimp taco and the smoked brisket taco at Street Taco (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Do save some room for the sides. The charred street broccoli is phenomenal, as is the esquites – Mexican street corn taken off the cob and mixed with pepitas for a little extra crunch. Both sides are savory and very tasty.
The charred street broccoli at Street Taco (c) Anna Lanfreschi

For dessert, grab one of the locally made WavePops sold at Street Taco. Passion fruit and berry is super popular (and for good reason – it’s incredibly delicious), but other flavors include strawberry, chocolate, coconut, and hibiscus, among others.
The passion fruit & berry WavePops, sold at Street Taco (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Street Taco is located inside the Marietta Street Market at 68 North Marietta Parkway NW. It faces the side parking lot, so you can’t miss it. And there’s plenty of self-parking available.

But here’s your pro tip: Go during the week, instead of on the weekend, because the market is fairly small inside and can get crowded quickly. But I mean, no better day to take advantage of Taco Tuesday on than a Tuesday, right?

Monday, April 1, 2019

What to order at the reimagined Tin Drum Asian Kitchen

Get ready for a brand new Tin Drum Asian Kitchen! You may already be familiar with the fast-casual restaurant, which is known for its bold takes on classic dishes from across Asia. But some Atlanta locations of the established franchise are getting an update, both in terms of décor and food options.
The street food-inspired modern decor of Tin Drum Decatur (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Below are some tips on how to navigate the redesigned store and menu. Both are well-thought out and inspired by Asian street food. We’re talking noodle bowls, bahn mi sandwiches, and lots of fruit (as an ingredient in dishes and as a snack/dessert).

Check out the spicy basil mango stir fry,  which you can get on a bed of rice or spinach, and with your choice of chicken, steak, shrimp, cauliflower or tofu as your protein.
Spicy mango basil stir fry with crispy chicken, on a bed of spinach (c) Anna Lanfreschi 

I got mine with crispy chicken and on a bed of spinach. I love that you can make healthy choices at a restaurant that would otherwise be fairly carb-heavy.

The Koreano slider is a must! The chicken is the most perfectly seasoned fried chicken I’ve ever had, and it’s served with the delicious Gochujang red pepper sauce.
The Koreano slider with  perfectly seasoned chicken (c) Anna Lanfreschi

The sumo soba salad is easily my favorite. Served chilled with spinach, cucumber, and sesame seaweed, it is refreshing and delicious. It’s hard to find soba noodles in Atlanta, and this is an excellent presentation of them.
The soba sumo salad (c) Anna Lanfreschi

The chili mango is incredible! Fresh mango peeled and sliced and seasoned with salt and chili powder. Just spicy enough, but still sweet enough to round out your meal, this little dish can make for a great snack or dessert.
Chili mango (c) Anna Lanfreschi 

In addition to food that’s prepared to order, you can also pick up tasty snacks from the pantry at the entrance to the café. You’ll find items like Thai pepper Doritos, the aforementioned chili mango, and packs of noodles you can cook at home.
Asian food market inside Tin Drum Decatur (c) Anna Lanfreschi

The newly opened Decatur location is the first example of the reimagined Tin Drum AsianKitchen, but other Atlanta locations are following suit. Keep checking the brand’s website and Instagram for updates.

So tell me, what would you order at the new Tin Drum?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

New Taste Tuesday: Nacho Daddy

Nacho Daddy is a modern Mexican restaurant that recently opened downtown Duluth. It is the first Georgia location for this Las Vegas eatery, and it draws patrons in with its famous scorpion tequila shots and flaming (literally) plates of delicious food.

So if you’re asking whether this OTP spot is worth the drive from Atlanta, the answer is yes. Read on to see why you should check this new restaurant out, what to expect, and what to order when you go. 

Because you’re tired of your ol' go-to Mexican joint and want to try something different. 

Vegas-like! Think fun, rowdy, and loud, both the atmosphere and the crowd.
The ambiance at Nacho Daddy (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Daddy’s margarita is a solid choice if you’re looking for a classic beverage. If you want to take it up a notch though, try the Cadillac margarita – it’s made with anjeo tequila and topped with Grand Marnier.
Daddy's margarita (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Nacho Daddy has an impressive selection of tequilas, so getting a tasting flight or a shot is a great way to try something new. If you’re feeling extra daring, try the scorpion shot: Cenote tequila, salt rim, lime wedge, and a scorpion!

Yep, a real scorpion. It’s not a live scorpion. But it is edible. And from what I understand, it’s crunchy; although I do not have personal experience with this, ha!
The scorpion shot! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

All the nachos, duh!

But seriously, there are so many nacho options. I tried the filet mignon (pictured in the first photo in this post) and the Thai chicken nachos (pictured below), both of which were filling and delicious. Each order can easily be a full entrée or an appetizer for a group.
Thai chicken nachos (c) Nacho Daddy

My recommendation is to split one order of nachos and try a few other menu items, such as the flaming shrimp and the mix-and-match fajitas.
Mix and match flaming fajitas (yep, these were lit on fire table-side as well) (c) Anna Lanfreschi

The flaming shrimp are set on fire table-side before being served to you, and the fajitas come with a generous helping of fajita peppers and onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, rice, and refried beans. You can order a single or a double portion, if you’d like to share.
The flaming shrimp, on fire and afterwards (c) Anna Lanfreschi

If you live nearby, do take advantage of Nacho Daddy’s happy hour specials, such as $5 food specials 3 – 6 pm, 2-for-1 tequila shots on Tuesdays, and BOGO wine Wednesday.

Nacho Daddy is located in Duluth, at 3095 Main Street. The Parson’s Alley complex has some free parking for the restaurant, but if those spots fill up, you might also have luck with street parking nearby.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

New Taste Tuesday: Fudo Sushi in Chamblee

Fudo is a new sushi restaurant that opened in Chamblee in January. It is quickly becoming known for its high quality of ingredients and the chefs’ creativity when it comes to food presentation and combination of flavors.

I had the pleasure of experiencing all of the above on a recent double date at Fudo with my friend Maryashley of Simply Maryashley. We grabbed our husbands (both named Michael!) and asked the chefs and bartenders to surprise us with their favorite dishes, which was an unforgettable experience!

Read on to see what we ended up noshing on (including some secret menu items) and for some tips to help you plan your visit to Fudo.

Because you appreciate sushi that is both fresh and imaginative. Fudo does both very well.

Modern and cool, both in vibe and color scheme. Think dark wooden tables, concrete and metal details, a wrap-around sushi bar and a separate cocktail bar.
The main dining room of Fudo (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Speaking of cocktails, do start your meal with a hand-crafted libation by one of Fudo’s bartenders. The Zen, the Toki-Yo, and the Mandarin Oriental cocktails are all great options to choose from. Or could simply ask the bartender to make you something yummy with your preferred liquor.
Left: The Zen cocktail, made with gin, tequila and green chartreuse; right: hot sake (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Fudo has an extensive selection of sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi options, as well as small plates, soups, salads, tempura, and rice bowls (donburi). Fudo’s menu is so impressive, it may seem overwhelming at first. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your choices.

Small plates:
Try the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and dynamite shrimp. The veggie dishes are served warm and are very flavorful, and you can never go wrong with some sweet and spicy shrimp, right?
Clockwise from upper left: Cauliflower, pickled veggies, Brussels sprouts (c) Anna Lanfreschi

If you’re extra hungry, share the oyako-don with your group. This teriyaki chicken bowl is served with bok choy and lotus root chips over steamed rice.
Oyako-don: Teriyaki chicken with bok choy, lotus root chips, over steamed rice (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Sushi rolls:
The Audi, Hunger Games, A Star Is Born, and Fantasy rolls are all excellent! If you’ve never had a hand roll before, do try one of the eight on the menu (pick the one with your favorite fish). They’re similar to regular sushi rolls ingredients-wise, but they usually have the seaweed on the outside and you eat them with your hands (no chopsticks required!).
The Fantasy roll: Shrimp tempura, crab salad, avocado, mango, topped with masago and scallions (c) Anna Lanfreschi

You won’t find a lot of sashimi/nigiri options on the regular menu at Fudo – they are mostly on the specials menu, as these options heavily depend on the kinds of fish the restaurant gets that day. These dishes tend to be incredibly creative and change often.

If the following are available during your trip to Fudo, I highly recommend trying them:

-bluefin otoro bites with uni and ikura: fatty tuna topped with sea urchin and salmon roe 
-madai nigiri: lightly charred Japanese snapper atop rice 
-salmon ceviche: light and fresh, served mixed with julienned fresh veggies 
-sashimi dessert: snapper topped with fresh peaches (see first photo in this blog post)

Bluefin tuna bites (c) Anna Lanfreschi 

Charred snapper nigiri (c) Anna Lanfreschi
Salmon ceviche -- isn't the presentation gorgeous? (c) Anna Lanfreschi
Leaving the decision-making in the hands of talented chefs is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the best of what a restaurant has to offer. During this dining experience at Fudo, I did exactly that.

I asked the chefs to bring out their favorite dishes of the evening, and they surpassed all expectations, including in terms of ingenuity, presentation, quality of ingredients, and service. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend this style of dining. And you can trust that your experience will be exceptional at this restaurant (Maryashley agrees).

Fudo is located at 5070 Peachtree Boulevard in Chamblee’s Parkview on Peachtree. It is in the same area as Poke Bar and The Alden, and is catty-corner to Whole Foods. It is open daily for lunch and dinner and has plenty of free self-parking.