Atwoods Pizza Cafe opened last week at the Biltmore on West Peachtree in Midtown, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
The concept is a collaboration from Atlanta restaurateurs Rob Caswick, Jeff Newsham, Dave Pazienza and Billy Streck (Cypress Street Pint and Plate, Grain, Tavernpointe), with Executive Chef Rob Phillip of the popular Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs.
The intimate space at the corner of 6th Street features a sidewalk patio near the entrance, and has a bold sense of pop culture fun inside. Pine-topped communal tables, exposed brick walls and other rustic elements meet black and white stenciled designs by local artist Brian Holt, who evokes the words and images of “Caddyshack,” “The Big Lebowski” and Hunter S. Thompson.
Not surprisingly, the heart of Phillip’s menu is pizza, baked-to-order in a gas-fired Italian Pavesi brick oven with a unique rotating deck that speeds up the process while creating a uniform thin crust.
“I grew up in the Bridgeport-New Haven area, famous for the Neapolitan-style pizza of Frank Pepe,” Phillip said. “With Atwoods, we’re doing more of a hybrid American style, with more toppings and a crispier crust, but it still has a good crumb, nice chew and some char.”
The standard 12-inch pie is available in seven red and four white house-designed combinations, ranging from the meaty Sho Me Your Roni with pepperoni and fennel sausage to the veggie Googootz with grilled zucchini. Or you can build your own from a long list of premium toppings, with 8-inch pies available at lunch, and a chef’s special breakfast pizza every morning.
“Sho Me Your Roni is probably our most popular pizza so far,” Phillip said. “Of course, pepperoni and sausage is always going to sell. But the very first order ever in the restaurant was for the Googootz. I was so relieved when that worked, too.”
On the flip side of the menu, salads, soups and sandwiches with sides offer other options for eat-in, takeout or delivery. South of Philly is a hefty combo of Mississippi pot roast with peperoncini, caramelized onions and fontina cheese. Phillip’s version of the New Orleans muffuletta piles Italian meats and provolone cheese with housemade olive salad on a French roll.
“We’ll be delving into some other things as we go along,” Philip said. “We’ve got some culinary talent in this kitchen to do some things besides just pizza in a box. We want to constantly refresh what we do here, much like we do at Hearth.”
As far as the beverage menu, the coffee bar serves Jittery Joe’s beans brewed to order in an Italian La Cimbali espresso machine. Coming soon are four craft beers on draft, plus a small selection of canned tallboys and wines by the glass or bottle.
Here are a few more glimpses of Atwoods.