Varuni Napoli: A Slice of Heaven in Midtown

Review From David Atlanta

July 1, 2014
By ameson Parker

In Eat Pray Love, Liz (played by Julia Roberts) decides that her life needs a drastic change that can only be brought about by a yearlong journey of self-discovery that takes her first to Italy. Trapped in the confines of a mediocre existence, eating has become a matter of mere sustenance. Before achieving spiritual harmony, she sets out to rekindle her love of food. Rome provides the perfect setting. Liz scarfs down a decadently layered Napoléon at a crowded café, enjoys gelato in a bustling piazza and inevitably discovers pasta all’amatriciana, a Roman staple.

But when Liz wants pizza, she wisely travels to nearby Naples. The birthplace of modern pizza, Napoli is a veritable Mecca for gourmands and pizza connoisseurs. “This is pizza margherita in Napoli! It is your moral imperative to eat and enjoy that pizza,” Liz reminds her calorie conscious friend. Keep in mind that a true Neapolitan pie can easily be finished by one person in one sitting.

Two beautifully tiled ovens sit at the heart of the open kitchen. Historically, ovens like these would have cost a small fortune to build and maintain. This is why Luca believes that crispy, fried calzones most likely predate pizza in its flatter, rounder form. The Reginella is a golden brown crescent stuffed with Buffalo ricotta, Pecorino cheese, corbarino tomatoes, basil, and various cured meats. Ask for a side of Nduja, a spicy ragu sauce, for dipping.

For an earthier treat, try the Spacca Napoli; a white pizza topped with ripe Taleggio cheese, wild mushrooms, sweet onions, and aromatic black truffle oil. This robust pie is significantly more filling than the rest, however, and is best when shared. On the other hand, the Don Gaetano is the perfect pie for the lone diner who doesn’t mind a little spice. It is crowned with Calabrian chilies, pancetta, Pecorino and basil and is only $14. Wash it all down with an inexpensive selection of Italian wines by the glass, including Prosecco on tap.

Inspired by Andy Warhol, Luca proudly lines the walls of his lounge area with cans of San Marzano tomatoes, grown in the shadow of the infamous Mount Vesuvius. The lounge overlooks a shaded patio and is adjacent to a glass walled walk-in refrigerator. Guests at the pizza bar can watch master pizzaiolos make a pie from start to finish. Out in the dining room, picnic style seating brings strangers together to watch the game and listen to opera music. This is no place to count calories or calculate points. This is the best pizza in Atlanta, and it is your moral imperative to eat and enjoy every last bite.

Varuni Napoli is located in Midtown, at the SW corner of Monroe Drive and Piedmont Avenue (1540 Monroe Drive, NE). Complimentary parking is available at Clear Creek Mall directly behind the restaurant.