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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Antico Pizza- The Best Pizza in Atlanta PERIOD

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or people that frequent Pizza Hut

Antico is such a layup as the best pizza in Atlanta, I almost feel guilty writing this, almost.  They have the highest Zagat rating for any Pizzeria in the ENTIRE Country.
So why write blog?  Because if you haven't been there go!  If you don't go after reading this I truly feel that there could be something innately wrong with you.
These guys make their dough by hand with the finest sea salts and fresh water.  They use San Marzo DOP Tomatoes that are hand crushed.  Also used are fresh Mozzarella di Bufala from Campania (that's in Italy, not near Conyers for the geographically challenged) and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  They stay TRUE to the Neapolitan style.

Hell they shipped 3 10,000 lb Hand Made Grande Forni Ovens from Naples!
I think it's time for The Dry Rub to do some field research in Naples.

The 900 degree oven heat is contained by ancient Santa Maria brick and Volcanic Rock from Mt. Vesuivius is underlaid beneath the cooking chamber.  Get me a goat hauling a wagon of rocks and I'd feel like I was in the Godfather!
I've lived in the ATL for almost sixteen years, pretty much since poor Richard Jewel (RIP) was falsely accused of the Olympic Park bombing.
Does this guy look like the Mastermind behind one of the most egregious domestic acts of terrorism?  Hell no, he looks like a guy that lived in his mothers basement playing Dungeons and Dragons.  I bet he could take down a pizza pretty quick too.

In those sixteen years, the best pizza I've probably had prior to Antico is Fritti.  And Fritti is pretty damn good, though the quality has declined the last few times I've been there.  Mellow Mushroom and Johnny's are passable.  Blue Moon has the carmalized onions that are a great touch that nobody else here does.  But nothing tops Antico.

Antico's crust is delicious and thin and the toppings are just about perfect.  There is not a bad pizza on their entire menu.  The Diavola is the only one I'll warn you about.  It's spicy as all hell, but delicious.  Admittedly, I'm sweating profusely by the end of the finishing the Diavola.  Even if you don't like anchovies, their Marinara pizza is also very tasty.

So if you live in Atlanta, or are just visiting, put Antico on your "to do" list.

But there are some negatives that may turn people off as well.  First, it's almost always packed and there can be very long lines.  Second, the parking can really be difficult, Thu-Sat, they have cops outside helping though.  And then for the more difficult of the human species, seating can be tough to get and sometimes you have to share (god forbid you have to meet somebody new) a table!  Mother of Ramses!  If you can get past those things, you will enjoy one of the best pizzas that you will ever have. Oh yea, the service isn't always the "friendliest" either.
But if you have the best product, you can get away with certain things.  For example, Lambeau Field is about the most inconvenient place to see football, but it's an unbelievable experience.  Cameron Indoor is about the size of a high school gym and until not too long ago didn't have air conditioning, but you couldn't find a better atmosphere for college hoops.  I'm sure Gisele Bundchen is a complete bitch, but she's Gisele, so who gives a damn.
Also, the crust is very thin, but don't let that deter you.  Personally, I'm a Chicago Style Pizza guy all the way.  I am partial to Lou Malnati's and Gino's East.  I'll be there this fall and can't wait to dive into one of these places.
If you find yourself in the "Windy City," get a slice of their pie.
That's right, the sauce is on the top of the pie.  Take your preconceptions about pizza and thrown them out the window when you go to Chicago.

Today's Footnote:
Stay tuned for the Champion of the March Madness Sandwich Tournament.  It's undeniably been the most fun I've had writing this blog.  I've had all sorts of feedback that has made writing this blog extremely fun.

Also, I welcome guest bloggers.  I should have my first coming in the next few weeks.  This will be a very different perspective from mine.  She's and OTP'er, whom feel way under represented in my blog, though I would argue Muss and Turners and Canton Cooks are OTP, though only by a couple of blocks each.

For those non Atlantan's OTP stands for "Outside the Perimeter" which is the highway that surrounds the city.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Championship Match- Atlanta's Best Sandwich

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under 13 and people that think the French Dip was originated in the South of France

We are down to the two best sandwiches in Atlanta!  We are truly doing gods work here at The Dry Rub.  It is Easter Weekend after all!  And of course Passover to my Jewish brethren.
I am happy to announce the committee has met and deliberated for hours upon hours.  And the Best Two Sandwiches in Atlanta are..........Fox Bros Burger and The French Dip at the Highland Tap!
Click to Enlarge

First I will tell you it was a difficult decision.  I am a little concerned about what may happen to me after leaving the Original Cuban from the Havana in the Final Four.  Let's hope my Cuban experience ends a little better than Fredo's.
"I know is was you Fredo, you broke my heart."  Let's just say I won't be going fishing anytime soon.  Also, has Al Pacino become to the Dry Rub what Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd have become to Judd Apatow?

The toughest decision was the Lobster Roll at The Big Ketch.  I LOVE this sandwich.  You combine this sandwich with their hush puppies and you will feel like you have died and gone to heaven.  I couldn't recommend the sandwich anymore than I already have.

Yesterday we went to the Highland Tap and everytime I walk into here, I feel like I'm going into a true Man Cave.  It's where the men are men and the women berate them for it.
They let us behind the infamous bar, but don't let anybody know.  I f*cking love this place.  It's a great lunch spot, dinner spot and even a better bar scene at night.  Hell, I was next to someone that OD'd here and they knew exactly what to do.  True story, long time ago though.

My friend Jason asked me how long I've been coming here and I was surprised to say 16 years.  And you know what's changed?  NOTHING.  That's what I love.  Hell they were even playing Kansas, REO Speedwagon and Styx.  And they meant it dammit.
This is what a 70's AOR band should look like.  And sound of course look like

If you have NEVER been here, you must make it a point and stop by.  The Highland Tap is a true Atlanta Institution. Also, the service is always top notch.  Donna did a wonderful job behind the bar.  I'll see you Tuesday for 1/2 Steakburgers!  Also, get your sandwich with 1/2 fries and 1/2 onion rings, you won't be disappointed.
Jason and I, I included this because he looks like he was doing bong hits in the bathroom.  NOT TRUE.

And of course that leaves the Fox Bros Burger.  Fox Bros is actually going under a renovation now, but are STILL OPEN with limited seating and of course a full to go menu.
We were there last week prior to the renovations and it was a little sad knowing that it's all going to change.  But I'm sure it's for the better.
Can I make one small request?  Can we have more than one toilet for the men? Isn't one of the greatest things about being a man is that we don't have to wait in line to go to the bathroom?  I don't ask for much in this world, but let's start there.

I'm still a little surprised how much I like this sandwich.  When it comes to BBQ, I'm a pork guy all they way.  But this is some DAMN good brisket they put in this thing.  It is well deserving of it's shot for the title.
So we at "The Dry Rub" are rolling up our sleeves and are going to go into some serious deliberations to come up with Atlanta's Best Sandwich.  I will tell you that all the participants are incredible in their own right.  And I will enjoy everyone of those again in time.  But first things first.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Final 4- Atlanta's Best Sandwiches

Warning:  The following may not be appropriate for children under the age of 13 or people that enjoy bean sprouts in their sandwich

Choosing the field was tough, but getting down to the Final 4? That has been exponentially tougher.  In fact, many people have not been happy with our choices.  For them I have three words.  GET. OVER. IT. The fact of the matter is these are all delicious options.  Here are the updated brackets with commentary below:

Click to Enlarge:

This is a subjective exercise.  Much like the people whom argue that in Philadelphia, either Pat's or Gino's is the better cheesesteak.  And these crazy Philly Fanatics are bat sh*t crazy about this!  My take on that argument?  I think I'm winning if I get out of that damn neighborhood without getting mugged.  Sometimes you have to set the bar low.

But I've consulted my "prestigious panel" on this journey and I thank them for their opinions and company while eating these wonderful meals.  I get my physical next week and I am fairly certain they are going to draw Au Jus from my veins. Lipitor may come to Atlanta to do a study on me.  The sacrifices we make for The Dry Rub!

On to the Final Four:

The first winner is the Havana Original Cuban.  And let me tell you we are lucky to still have serving Cuban Sandwiches.  The original restaurant pictured above burnt down in 2008 and they mercifully reopened down the street on Buford Highway and they continue to put out the best cuban sandwich in Atlanta.  And you know why?  They stick to what they know and perfect it.

The Havana is an Atlanta institution that has been serving the Original Cuban since 1976.

You know the Top 3 songs of 1976?  Rod Stewarts "Tonights the Night" ended the year with SEVEN weeks at #1
Were the '70's this creepy?

Paul McCartney's band Wings "Silly Little Love Songs" was #1 for four weeks.  Wings of course was the band that defined Sir Paul.

Then Elton John and Kiki Dee were #1 with "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart."  Who the f*ck is Kiki Dee?  Did Sir Elton have her killed after this song?  Did she go into the One Hit Wonder relocation program with Soft Cell and Bobby McFerrin?

Um, yea the 70's were that creepy.
Their opponent?  The French Dip from the Highland Tap.  The Highland Tap is not just the darkest bar in Atlanta, it's also a really good restaurant.  If you haven't been go for happy hour at this iconic basement setting.  They are famous for their Prime Rib and their French Dip is a great lunch extension of thinly sliced slow roasted Prime Rib with horseradish and, of course, au jus.  I love their French Onion Soup as well with all due respect to my friend Joe Carroll.

On the other side of the bracket we have the Lobster Roll from The Big Ketch.

I just had this sandwich yesterday and it's better than it's sister sandwiches at the Steamhouse and The Optimist.  It's a slice of Maine in Buckhead.  It's brilliant in it's simplicity.  Generous portions of lobster, a buttered roll and melted butter.  Minimum spices are put on the meat.  The price point is $17, but the lobster is fresh and you can absolutely tell.

Aesthetically, these guys did a great job with their restaurant.  The previous inhabitant was a dump.  The Crab Dip is also delicious here.  As are the Bloody Mary's.

Unfortunately, they have a tough matchup against the Fox Bros Burger at where else?  Fox Bros!

Their "take" on a burger is the sum of it's parts.  By itself, I would thoroughly enjoy the Brisket, the Bacon (best bacon I've had) and the Pimento Cheese are all delicious.  Add the Jalapeno Mayo and the Buttered Sesame Bun and it's incredible.

So here we go!  Two tough matchups that I want YOUR input on.

So thanks for coming out to the Banh Mi @ Lee's Bakery, The Heart Attack @ Jack's NY Deli (undisputed #1 breakfast sandwich), The Insult to Philly @ Muss and Turners and The Blackened Grouper @ The Steamhouse.  You were all noble competitors.

We'll let Sir Elton serenade you on your way out the door.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rathbun's KR Steak Bar (and Kevin Rathbun Steak)

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under 13 and people that think Applebee's makes one hell of a steak

I had clients in this week whom wanted "The Best and the Coolest" meals in Atlanta.  One of my clients, we'll call him Chris, knew about Kevin Rathbun and wanted to go to his Steakhouse.  So we did one better, we went to Kevin's new KR Steak Bar on Wednesday and then did Rathbuns Steakhouse on Thursday!  I would compare it to back to back games in the NBA.

Let's just say after the last couple of days I am not exactly "Iron Deficient" right now.  Though I'm not about to go grill some tofu for dinner either.  Let's get a hold of ourselves here.

The new KR Steak Bar is in Peachtree Hills near Buckhead, so it's much more convenient to my office than Inman Park.  This is a brilliant location since he will sign up additional converts (like he needs more) just by adjusting his geography!

The ambience is brighter than the Steakhouse and has a more Farm to Table feel as the wait staff is dressed like they are on the way to go milk cows in the 1800's.

The first thing you need to know about the KR Steak Bar is that it is NOT a traditional steakhouse, it's a "tapas like" restaurant.  So come in a group and be prepared to order alot of food.  At first this made me a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be a great thing. Oh yea, almost as cool as Matt Ryan walking right in behind us.

We started with the following appetizers:  Octopus with Farro and Candied Lemon, Sweetbreads with Turnips, Chard and Agrodulce and the 3rd one (and most interesting) was Lamb Tartarwith Caponata which we came to find out was Lamb Heart Tartar! And it wasn't bad at all!  The Octopus was by far my favorite.

The 2nd Course was Italian: Pappardelle bolognese and Spaghetti with anchioves, capers and olives.  Most of my cohorts liked the Pappardelle (pictured below) better, but I was partial to the lighter Spaghetti.

The 3rd Course was the highlight of the meal:  We ordered four main entrees.  Mark ordered the TriTip with carrots and orange, at which point I had order envy.  Stephanie order the Scallops with Shrimp and Salsa Verde and they were seared to perfection.  Mark ordered the Pork dish which was basically an enormous piece of bacon, and yes it was delicious.

Fortunately I let the waiter talk me into the Shell Steak with espresso and horseradish.  It was my favorite dish of the night.  The meat cut like butter and was delicious.  

For dessert the highlight was the chocolate hazelnut budino with candied hazelnut and biscotti.  It was a chocolate mouse that was perfect, which to me means lots of flavor, but not too sweet.

Then the surprise of the night came.  The KR Steak Bar makes their own Irish Cream!  I could have ate my weight in it (but unfortunately I didn't).

Overall, this was an INCREDIBLE restaurant and experience.  The service was impeccable and the vision Kevin had completely came to fruition.  It's the perfect restaurant for "Foodies."  Lots of small dishes with BIG flavors to share.  So come deep and order alot and sit back and enjoy.  

Today's Footnote:

As I was talking to Kevin Rathbun, I told him we were having a party of seven to his Kevin Rathun Steak restaraunt the next night.  I didn't think anything of it at the time.

So we showed up the next evening and sat down.  The waiters then came to the table with appetizers and said, "Mr. Jones, Kevin Rathbun said thank you for your patronage, these appetizers are on the house."  To which I said, "You had me at hello."  This food blogging is starting to pay off!

People often stop me to tell me how much I look like Tom Cruise.  It's really kind of annoying.

But seriously, that's the kind of thing that creates loyal customers for the long haul.  So I'm all in with the Rathbun brand.  And for dinner I had the 8 ounce NY Strip with the Black Truffle Butter.  And when I say, get the truffle butter, I mean get the f*cking truffle butter!  

And to go backwards, get the grilled "thick cut" bacon, house cured with sriracha- molasses as an appetizer. And when they say "thick cut," they truly mean it took a knife to get through it.

For dessert we had the Grasshopper Baked Alaska, made of chocolate parfait, mint chip ice cream and oreo crunch.   I have no idea where they got the name from, but it was delicious and it was devoured.  Though for dessert after these days, I probably should have order the angioplasty special. 

I completely understand why many consider this the Best Atlanta Steakhouse.  You can be traditional and still hip.

Hell, if David Bowie can still make music like this at 70 YEARS OLD, you can absolutely make a Steakhouse hip.

Footnote #2:

It's been a while (maybe about 10 years), but the Masquerade is still a great place to see a show.  It's an intimate atmosphere with great sound.  They could have used more bartenders though (isn't that usually the case at most events?)  

We saw the Gaslight Anthem there, who happen to be one of my favorite bands.  Check'em out:

And thanks for the over 3,000 pageviews!  If you keep reading, I'll keep writing!

The Great 8 Sandwiches

Warning:  The following may be unacceptable to children under the age of 13 and people that asked me to include the "McRib" into the field

The Dry Rub is down to the Best Eight Sandwiches in Atlanta!
click to enlarge

In the Cellucci Division, the matchups were pretty one sided.

The Lobster Roll at the Big Ketch continues on.  And I have to tell you, I had the Lobster Roll at The Optimist yesterday and without question, the Big Ketch's is better.  But The Optimist had a sneaky great appetizer (more on that later).  And the Blackened Grouper, a longtime Atlanta staple moved on as well.

In the Fabiano's Divsion, there was still no upsets.

Fox Bros Burger (it's not a true burger) is heaven between buns.  It's chopped brisket with carmelized bacon and melted pimento cheese on a buttered sesame bun.  Muss & Turners "Insult to Philly" is house-roasted Angus beef, sweet onions, red peppers, mushrooms, swiss chees, rosemary balsamic au jus on a hoagie.  This is going to be a tough matchup.

The Kournakova Divsion had the toughest battle's.

The Ban Mi from Lee's Bakery narrowly edged Hankooks sliders.  The sliders are delicious but their pork lends itself better to their taco's, which ultimately was the deciding factor.

In the Battle of the Cuban's, the Havana won.  It's just better and it's really all they do, they make sandwiches period.
"Say Hello to My Original Cuban!"

The Carnegie Deli Division was pretty one sided as well.  The Highland Tap French Dip is unrivaled and Jack's NY Deli Heart Attack is the best breakfast sandwich in Atlanta.  Period.  Taylor Ham is about as rare Pepsi being served in Atlanta.

Today's Footnote:

I went to The Optimist for lunch yesterday and had an appetizer that was "sneaky good."  Their Hush Puppies were absolutely delicious.  They are corn milk hushpuppies “beignet style” and the MAGIC ingredient is cane sugar butter.  I was shocked by how good these things were!

Aesthetically, the Optimist is an A+.  I hope to make it back for a full write up.  The new Rathbun's KR Bar and Rathbuns Steakhouses are next in line for "The Rub."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sandwich Madness Field is Set!

Warning:  The following may be innapproriate for children under the age of 13 and people that think Bin Mah is an Asian Dictator.

After hours of deliberations and vigorous debate, a Pope has been named, er, I meant the sandwich brackets are set!  And we didn't signal is with the white smoke from either.

We decided that the Taco and the Gyro had no place in the discussion and will join the hamburger on the sidelines.  Also, there were quite a few great Cuban Sandwiches nominated, so two were chosen and are facing off in the 1st Round in the Kournikova International Division.  Muss and Turners has a few unbelievable sandwiches, so two were chosen and they are facing off in the 1st round as well.

Jack's NY Deli's "Times Square Tenderloin" was the last "bubble" sandwich that didn't make that cut. It's too similar to Woody's Cheesesteak (and may be better) and M&T's Insult to Philly.  But you have to take into the account the legend of Woody's and the longevity they have earned in Midtown.

So the Pork Taco at Hankook didn't make it, but through a loophole we got in their sliders (though the Taco is better).  That pork is so good I'm not sure it's "street legal."

One thing I forgot to mention in the rules was that no chains are allowed.

Here are the brackets!  Enjoy and click to enlarge:

Please take a minute and let me know your unfiltered thoughts!

This weeks footnotes:

I had dinner at the Lobster Bar this week.  It's without question Blog Worthy, but I promised not to do anything too obvious.  But you cannot go wrong here.  I've been many times and have never had anything less than a wonderful meal.  Full disclosure, lobster is my favorite food.  And the Shellfish Tower is the greatest invention since the combustible engine.

The Buckhead Life Group does everything well from not just the food, but their service and ambiance are always an A+.  One day I probably will do an entry on what I think is their best overall restaurant Kyma.  If you have a special occasion, you can go wrong with any Buckhead Life Group Restaurant.  The previous paragraph was not endorsed.

This weeks other footnote:

Anchorman 2 has been filming all around Midtown and West Midtown.  This week they have turned the Olympic Flame into Whammy Chicken!  Can't wait to see the movie.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Madness Sandwich Selection Week

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or people who think College Football shouldn't have a playoff.

The greatest event in all of sports isn't the Superbowl, it is March Madness.  You throw the best 64 teams into a playoff and the winner takes all.  Only if College Football could follow suit.

So here's what we are doing at The Dry Rub, we are forming a committee and coming up with the BEST 16 SANDWICHES in ATLANTA (burgers are exempt) and we will have a round of witty "games" every week until there is one sandwich standing!
You will see our working list below the division breakout.  HERE'S WHERE YOU COME IN:  Please let us know what your favorite sandwich is and why and we'll put it up for debate in the committee.

There will be four divisions:

1.  Willy Cellucci Division (in memoriam):  For the more upscale sandwiches

2.  Fabiano's Division:  For the traditional sandwich.  Fabiano's was the best deli in Atlanta and their #1 Sandwich would have walked through this field like UNLV in 1990.  It was the best Italian Sub in Atlanta and it wasn't even close.

3.  Anna Kournikova Division:  For the Non American Sandwiches.  Nobody defined the early stages of the internet  more than Anna K (Sorry Al Gore).  And nobody is redefining Atlanta food like "The Dry Rub" (according to us of course).  The irony of course is she probably hasn't had a good sandwich in over 10 years.  But who cares.

4.  The Carnegie Deli Division:  For the rest of the sandwiches.  If the Chef's Jeffs Favorite: Pastrami on a Knish sandwich was here in Atlanta, it would have dominated like Patrick Ewing in 1984.  And of course both the Katz Deli and the Carnegie Deli are the bench marks for sandwiches in this great country.

Here are the Sandwiches currently up for consideration in the field (in no particular order):  
Lobster Roll @ Big Ketch, French Dip @ Highland Tap, Lamb Gyro @ Cafe Agora, The Heart Attack @ Jacks NY Deli, Pastrami on Rye @ Goldbergs, The Fox Bros Burger @ Fox Bros, The Cuban @ Havana Sandwich, Cheesesteak @ Woodies, Times Square Tenderloin @ Jacks NY Deli, Rueben Cubano @ La Fonda, Fried Chicken in Wing Sauce @ The Rusty Nail, Mama's Zaza's Favorite @ Marcello's, Bacon Egg and Cheese @ Waffle House, Pork Taco @ Hankook, Oyster PoBoy @ Fontaines, Original Cuban @ The Crazy Cuban, Archie Bunker @ DBA BBQ, Half Pork/ Half Sausage @ Community Q, The Gobbler @ Muss and Turners

Please let us know your thoughts! Do you have an addition? Do you have problem with any of the above? Feel free to comment here, Facebook, Twitter, email, or text/ call with thoughts. We are looking to have some fun with this!

Also, was 1982 the greatest Final Four of All Time? Patrick Ewing, James Worthy, Sleepy Floyd, Sam Perkins, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and some guy named Michael Jordan. The shame is that this would never happen today. The "one and done" has watered down college basketball. Punctuated by last years Kentucky team.

Today's Footnote: Atlanta just lost an Culinary Institution in Willy Cellucci. My 10th anniversary is coming up and my wife and I are going to Napa. Willy was a passionate NorCal native and did the wine purchasing for all of The Palms. When I told him last year we were going to Napa, Willy was so excited to help plan my trip. I'm really going to miss having that conversation.

I'm going to miss him bitching about his Raiders, the complimentary Pinkie shots he would always send us and overall I will just miss his unrelenting hospitality.

Over the years, Willy let me use his bar as an office away from my office. I've interviewed candidates there, I've been interviewed there and have had many a great business lunch there. Willy always made sure to make me seem like a big deal to help me professionally along the way. I never took it for granted.

One night he graciously also allowed me sneak some friends into Phil Mickelson's Breast Cancer Fundraiser, then order top shelf liquor on the house when it was just an open beer and wine bar. Willy always made you feel like a great friend.

The Palm will note be the same without his gruff voice and generosity.

Condolences and prayers to the Cellucci family. He will be missed.