Root Baking Co.’s roasted chicken sandwich layers chicken salad, harissa-pickled carrots, and a lot of herbs on sorghum bread. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

These two Atlanta restaurants are nominees for Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants 2019 

Two Atlanta restaurants on the Eastside Beltline are among the nominees for Bon Appetit magazine’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants.

Pizza spot Nina + Rafi and bakery and cafe Root Baking Company are both in the running for the top spot. 

Bon Appetit deputy editor Julia Kramer narrowed down hundreds of meals in dozens of cities to a list of 50, which will be further whittled to a list of 10 on Sept. 17. 

“A chef from Jersey makes Detroit-style pizza in Atlanta—and it couldn’t be more natural,” Kramer writes of Nina + Rafi, located at SPX Alley on the Eastside Beltline. The restaurant comes from Anthony Spina and Billy Streck -- Spina opened O4W Pizza in Atlanta’s Irwin Street Market in 2015, and moved the beloved eatery to Duluth the next year; Streck also owns Hampton + Hudson in Inman Park and Cypress Street Pint & Plate in Midtown. Spina also plans to open a pizza-by-the-slice spot in Virginia-Highland in the next few months. 

O4W Pizza fans balked when it was announced that the restaurant’s Grandma Pie wouldn’t make it onto Nina + Rafi’s menu, but the new eatery has garnered praise for its similar Detroit Red Top.

Nina & Rafi’s Margherita in Detroit is a Detroit pie made as the Super Margherita. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL
Photo: For the AJC

“The bad news? Spina opted not to bring the Grandma Pie with him,” AJC food writer Wendell Brock wrote in a review of Nina + Rafi earlier this year. “The good news? He’s outdone himself with a pan pie called the Detroit Red Top, another study in simplicity distinguished by its singular edge.”

As for Root Baking Co., Kramer writes, “because if you’re milling your own heirloom grains, you should definitely be turning them into lamb shawarma pizza and morning buns.”

Husband and wife Chris and Nicole Wilkins are behind the Ponce City Market venture, which was previously located in Charleston. Root features daily artisan and heritage grain breads, plus pastries, breakfast items, toasts, snacks, salads, soups and sandwiches.

Chris Wilkins was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Baker category for this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards.

“For a multitude of reasons (parking, tourists, price point), I’ve been loath to frequent Ponce City Market,” Brock wrote in a glowing review earlier this year. “With Root Baking Co. in the house, I may become a stalker.”

Root Baking Co. and Nina + Rafi are the latest new restaurants to be recognized by Bon Appetit. Talat Market, a pop-up that’s slated to open a brick-and-mortar location in Summerhill this year, was a nominee last year.

In 2017, Brian So’s Marietta eatery Spring was named to the list and was eventually ranked in the top 10 new restaurants, while Staplehouse was named to the list in 2016 and was ultimately named Best New Restaurant in the country (Inman park restaurant Bread & Butterfly was also named in the top 50 that year).

See Bon Appetit’s full list of nominees here.

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