Italian Restaurant Favorites

One thing that I feel my neighborhood (East Atlanta) is sorely missing is a really good classic Italian restaurant. It used to be that we also lamented the absence of a decent Mexican restaurant, but I think La Casita Cantina has filled that void well. Before you deluge me with mentions of Little Azio, I will clarify that I am seeking a classic, hole-in-the-wall type place, with the atmosphere of Benedetti’s or Alfredo’s – You know: red leather booths and dim lighting. I like to hide in cloak of darkness while gorging myself on garlic rolls swimming in butter. Little Azio, while a great addition to the neighborhood, is a little too much like eating in a garage or a midtown loft. I like it, and it is GREAT for dinners out with the kids, but I don’t think of it as “Italian” as much as a pizza place; They don’t have Eggplant Parmigiana, people.

Okay, so what is your favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian place in Atlanta? Extra points for something closer to East Atlanta than Benedetti’s.

16 Comments so far

  1. lori (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 9:22 am

    Nino’s on Cheshire Bridge for old school, and Pasta da Pulcinella for new deliciousness.

    And if you think La Casita Cantina is “decent”, then you should definitely try Nuevo Laredo Cantina.

  2. Paulie [eatl/ga] (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 9:41 am

    While I agree with Lori about Nuevo Laredo make sure that you a prepared to wait for some time to be seated before you head over there.

  3. abby (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    I don’t know of any other dingy red leather booth italian places, but for mexican close to you — Mi Barrio at Boulevard and Memorial is killer. and no wait

  4. Annie (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 10:24 am

    Will have to try Pasta da Pulcinella. Good calls on Nuevo and Nino’s – both are v. good. Should have mentioned them.

    Abby – Have meant to try Mi Barrio, so thanks for the suggestion.

  5. CaptainObvious (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 11:19 am

    If you are looking for a good Italian joint with the red leather booths and even an old Italian guy playing the organ during dinner times then give Bambinelli’s Italian Restaurant a try. They are at the corner of Henderson Mill and Northlake Pkwy across from Northlake Mall in an old strip style shopping center. Their eggplant parm is unbelieveable.

    It’s a family owned restaurant and has been in the Atlanta area for over 26 years. Bonnie Bambinelli runs the joint with her son Joey and they use her mother’s and grandmother’s recipes straight from Italy.

  6. Annie (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 11:24 am

    Thanks, Capn – will check it out.

  7. roughtough (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    Grant Central in Grant Park is more along these lines than its East Atlanta counterpart.

    Also, there was an Italian restaurant in East Atlanta for years – Pastificio Cameli. And damn was it good. Went out of business b/c the neighborhood can’t really hold it’s own w/ restaurants over the $10 price point. Especially back then before all the fancy folks moved in.

    p.s. – Bambinelli’s is the bomb!

  8. roughtough (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

    Also, Trattoria Il Localino on North Highland has a real italian vibe. Like walking into italy. Can be pricy, but mid meal they break out w/ instruments and you get to dance.

  9. chad (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    Not quite the atmosphere of Alfredo’s, and more of a pizza place than “restaurant,” but Village Pizza in Cabbagetown kicks some serious A. In addition to having the best pizza in town, the chicken parm is killer. Haven’t tried any of the pasta yet.

  10. Todd (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 1:43 pm

    Pastificio Camelli was okay – had some really good dishes, but the management decided that going Vegan would have made them more money. Guess that didn’t pan out for them.

    Nuevo Laredo IS delicious, no doubt. But as Paulie pointed out, there’s almost ALWAYS a wait…and umm…it’s not in East Atlanta, unlike La Casita Cantina…I think that’s what Annie meant by “filling the void” in East Atlanta.

    I’ll second the Village Pizza, although never tried the pasta dishes. Their pizza, and the chicken sandwiches are fantastic…

  11. roughtough (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Todd, actually it was new owners (who kept the name) that felt vegan was, in some possible way, lucrative. The original owners were not associated w/ that restaurant. Unfortunatly for them, vegan’s less of a bet than pasta. Well maybe not, how long was Pasta Thyme around?

  12. Todd (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    Ah, I stand corrected. Considering the name was the same, I just assumed.

    Pasta Thyme….yeah….really nice people, and a cool little place, but the food wasn’t very consistent in my opinion…and when Little Azio’s opened, there was no way they were going to be able to compete.

    Incidentally, a new restaurant is rumored to be opening in the former location of Burrito Art & Pastificio Cameli…don’t know many details yet…

  13. Annie (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 2:36 pm

    God, had totally forgotten about Pastificio Cameli – I really liked it, but kinda thought it was overpriced. Agreed on Grant Central in the park having more of the red booth feel, but I still think of it as a pizza place. p.s. Will be skipping the dancing Italian place, as I don’t dance in public without copious amounts of drinking beforehand, and never after ingesting mountains of pasta.

  14. Annie (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

    Chad, agreed on Village pizza – I even wrote about it a while back here on Metblogs.

  15. Leah (unregistered) on January 27th, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

    I just fly to NY and stay in Little Italy when I want Italian.

    But I only do that about every 6 months.

  16. Annie (unregistered) on January 28th, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    Ah, Leah. I am a little jealous of your freedom to up and leave for NYC at the drop of a hat. Alas, that is not in the cards for me, husband, two kids, dog, sad responsibility. You never eat Italian in Atlanta?

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