Atlanta Restaurant Scene

First Look: The Local Pizzaiolo debuts “Neo-Neapolitan” in West Midtown


The first location of The Local Pizzaiolo debuted in late January on Marietta Street in West Midtown. And there are three more Atlanta locations in the works — Toco Hills, opening later this month; Sandy Springs, later this year; and the Madison Yards development in Reynoldstown, sometime in 2019.

The “Neo-Neapolitan” fast-casual concept from Italian pizza expert and four-time World Pizza Champion Giulio Adriani features a fairly simple menu of reasonably-priced 11-inch pies, plus salads, desserts, and beer, wine and cocktails on draft. But Adriani is a stickler for high quality ingredients and traditional techniques.

His signature dough is made with a special blend of flour created in partnership with Caputo Flour Company, based in Naples, Italy. And his pizzas and salads employ an array of imported, local and seasonal toppings, such as Prosciutto di Parma, artisan sausage, local honey, and a special fresh mozzarella made in Los Angeles by some friends from Naples.

The contemporary build-out, in the space that was most recently Bellwood’s Social House, is bright and airy, with white subway tiles and colorful accents, such as a cartoonish mural featuring commuters on Vespa scooters. There’s a cozy lounge area with a tableau of Euro-style furniture.

Last week, Adriani sat down at a table at The Local Pizzaiolo to talk about his experience in the restaurant business in the U.S. and his move to the Atlanta market.

As it turns out, his family is originally from Naples, but he grew up in Rome. He once played professional basketball and first learned pizza-making at the side of Nonna Maria, his Neapolitan grandmother.

Adriani moved to New York City in 2010, where he opened multiple businesses, including his most famous pizzeria, Forcella, in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“At one point, that was probably the hottest pizzeria in the United States,” Adriani said. “I think that was mostly because I came up with this idea of the flash-fried pizza, the Montanara. It was the same time that the Cronuts came out and, with these trends, people were lining up outside the door.

“After that, I was consulting all over the United States. I have a friend who is our investor and saw this big trend in pizza, especially fast-casual. He said he thought we should launch this concept in Atlanta, because it’s a great, expanding city.”

So far, Adriani said, his best-selling pizza in Atlanta has been the Margherita, made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and Grana Padano Parmesan. But the best reviewed has been the Local with Heirloom Market BBQ beef brisket, mozzarella, provolone, cipollini onions, and a drizzle of ghost pepper-infused honey.

“I matched the brisket with the cipollini onions and the honey for a sweet-sour taste that’s a bit like barbecue sauce,” Adriani said. “Of course, we have two fried pizzas, the Montanara and the Eggplant Parm.

“And I think we are the only ones doing a gluten-free crust made by hand. It’s so good, I’ve had people send it back because they thought it couldn’t possibly be gluten-free. So that’s doing very well here.”

As far as salads, Adriani said he likes to keep it simple and let the vegetables shine through.

“I’m Italian. I can’t have crazy dressings, and so I always do something based on balsamic vinegar,” he said. “We import some amazing balsamic vinegar from Modena, both white and red, and we do that with just olive oil.”

On the drinks menu, the recipes for the kegged cocktails are crafted by Bratislav Glisic, the award-winning principal bartender at Employees Only in New York City.

“That’s from one of the most famous bars and bartenders in the world,” Adriani said. “For a fast-casual concept, the consistency with alcohol is a problem, so he came up with four simple recipes for us. And then we have beer and wine, of course, with everything on tap, and that helps with consistency, too.”

Summing up the philosophy behind Local Pizzaiolo, Adriani said the bottom line is to offer quality at an affordable price.

“In New York, and even Atlanta, a quality pizza is $25,” he said. “To me, that’s not what pizza is meant to be. Pizza is meant to be a popular food. It’s made with flour and water, the two cheapest ingredients. So it’s meant to be for everybody, not some elite food.

“People may say I’m the best pizza maker in the world. But the best pizza maker in the world should be able to bring his product to more people. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

1000 Marietta St., Atlanta. 678-705-2672, thelocalpizzaiolo.com.

More images from a First Look at the Local Pizzaiolo

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The Food & Dining Team offers reviews, previews, food news and fun bites food trends for metro Atlanta’s vast food and dining scene.