- Bob Townsend For the AJC
Bar Americano and Bar Crema opened in late November in the space once occupied by East Andrews Cafe & Bar as part of the upscale makeover of the former Andrews Entertainment District in Buckhead.
Other new tenants of the shopping and dining complex, dubbed Andrews Square, include Henri’s Bakery & Cafe, Poppy’s of Atlanta, Boxwoods Garden & Gifts, and Lucy’s Market.
But the twin Italian-American concepts from the team behind behind the Mercury in Ponce City Market and the Pinewood in Decatur are positioned as the anchors of the covered courtyard area, which features a bubbling fountain and cozy outdoor seating.
Inside, Bar Americano features an imposing white marble bar, which plays against a dramatic red color scheme and a tableaux of bistro tables and chairs and leather booths in the dining room.
Next door, Bar Crema offers a wide-ranging drinks menu with espresso, tea, cocktails, Italian beer, wine and sodas, plus pastries, desserts and gelato in a counter service Euro-style cafe setting.
Executive chef Adam Waller is an Atlanta native with a deep background in Italian cuisine, working in the kitchens at Sotto Sotto and STG Trattoria, before his most recent stint at Bocado.
Waller’s menu at Bar Americano ranges through “reinvented” Italian favorites, from beef, pork and veal meatballs in marinara sauce served over Parmesan polenta to Steak Florentine with roasted potatoes and salsa verde.
At the heart of the menu, his fresh and extruded house-made pastas include the likes of beef cheek agnolotti and cacio e pepe. New York-style 12-inch pizzas have fanciful names and hold hefty ingredients, such as The Sweats, topped with spicy pepperoni, sliced meatballs and prosciutto cotto.
“We’re going for a neighborhood feel, with classic Italian-American food,” Waller says. “Good pasta, good pizza, and a place where people can just walk in and get a good bite to eat. So you’ll see meatballs, and pretty straightforward ravioli, rigatoni and cannelloni. And everything is meant to be shared, so you can taste a lot of different things.
“We’re definitely not doing Neapolitan pizza. I consider it New York brick oven. The texture is that crispy bottom crust, and all the flavors of the sauce and the cheese are working out real nice. The tomatoes and the cheese are coming from California, and the flour for the dough is coming from King Arthur.”
John Fogleman, the beverage director for Bar Americano and general manager of Bar Crema, worked as a barista, manager and director of education for Octane Coffee, before delving deeper into the world of cocktails.
The drinks at Bar Americano include aperitivi such as the Venetian Spritz with blanc de blancs and soda, and full-on cocktails such as the Millionairess with vodka, white peach, lemon, rosemary and blanc de blancs.
“Right now, the cocktail programs at Bar Americano and Bar Crema are the same,” Fogleman says. “But as time goes on, the restaurant side will stay more traditional with classic styles, and the drinks at Crema will be a little more adventurous and irreverent, but within the Italian tradition.”
Though they’d never worked together, directly, Waller and Fogleman knew each other well from their days at Bocado and Octane, which are located across the street from each other on Atlanta’s Westside.
“Just seeing what the bar crowd mixed with the coffee shop was like being at Octane, and then seeing what the bar crowd and restaurant was like at Bocado, it’s this weird serendipity that Adam and I are here together now, basically doing what we were doing before,” Fogleman says. “I think having these two bars and the restaurant together, we’re primed to be something really fun and really successful.”