Baroni - Courtesy TFL
One of the worlds most famous chefs failed. Wolfgang Puck is arguably the world's first celebrity chef, and certainly the first to capitalize on his name and endorse a seemingly endless list of food and food products. But sometimes even the best strike out. Such was the case with the only outpost of Wolgang Puck Express in Atlanta, located in SoBuck. Woodfired pizzas, fresh tossed salads, and international sandwiches just did not seem to fit the SoBuck tastes and after several years, Puck finally retreated.
Fast forward months later and in comes a veteran of the Atlanta restaurant scene. The same group who operates Barondi, and Publik House in Midtown decided that where Wolfgang failed to succeed, they could do different. Up goes the paper on the windows; dust, construction, and crews follow, and then opens their newest concept - Baroni.
Dining Room - TFL
While there was definitely something different, the place seemed eerily the same. It is as if the ghost of Puck would just not let go. The bar is in the same place. Check for the wood burning pizza oven. Check again for the minimilast decor, and European touches. Check for the pared down menu of wood fired pizzas, fresh prepared salads, and international sandwiches. Obviously the operators here thought Puck must have done something wrong other than the above mentioned similarities.
In one of our earliest review, we named Barondi the best and most authentic pizza in Atlanta. Several years later, we still stand behind this proclamation despite the influx of several strong contenders.
Replicating this format could not possibly fail. Or could it? (as of this publishing, no failure) On one of our first visits, the most delicious Italian bread was delivered table side. Olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and real parmesan cheese ensued and satiation was immediate.
Sorry Bread, no Fresh Pepper
Subsequent visits the bread morphed into poorly made pizza crust, and the pepper mill never materialized. We begin to think that Puck could have cursed this location for ever. But then we had the pizza. Thin, hot and with just the right amount of char - Baroni makes a mean pie. Fresh ingredients are evident with prosciutto sliced so thin, you could read the menu through it. Arrugula tasted young and fresh, and the olive oil was always top rate.
Yum - TFL
The Marghartia pizza was spot on most visits. The crust tended to be somewhat inconsistent, perhaps owing to temperature problems the entire restaurant had been experiencing. We will write that off as opening jitters, and move on.
Margharita Pizza - TFL
All things said, Baroni is a decent replication of the uber successful Barondi. Whether this concept will appeal to the Eugene loving SoBucks more than the Puck Express did will remain to be seen. This will certainly be a challenge, and there are few better operators in Atlanta. We wish Baroni the best, but will more than likely continue to visit Barondi when that Italian urge surfaces.