First Look: Amalfi Cucina + Mercato is evolving in Buckhead

Amalfi Cucina & Mercato is now open in Buckhead, with a menu including (clockwise, from left) Veal Bolognese, Veal Marsala, Tartufo E Funghi Carnevale Pizza, Calamaio, and (center) Amalfi Margherita  D.O.P. Pizza. Also shown are cocktails called The Spritz (upper right) and Franco's Fizz (lower left). (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Amalfi Cucina & Mercato is now open in Buckhead, with a menu including (clockwise, from left) Veal Bolognese, Veal Marsala, Tartufo E Funghi Carnevale Pizza, Calamaio, and (center) Amalfi Margherita D.O.P. Pizza. Also shown are cocktails called The Spritz (upper right) and Franco's Fizz (lower left). (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Last week, Amalfi Cucina & Mercato officially opened its second location in the former Gordon Biersch Brewery space on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

The original downtown Atlanta restaurant opened in 2016, in a 100-year-old building on Andrew Young International Boulevard, just off Peachtree Street. And along with the adjoining speakeasy-style cocktail and cigar bar, Red Phone Booth, it’s remained a popular destination for business travelers, tourists and loyal locals since then.

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Amalfi team (from left to right) Nicholas Lamb, Janice Weber, Stephen de Haan, Greg Grant, Santiago Echavarria, Veronica Velez. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi team (from left to right) Nicholas Lamb, Janice Weber, Stephen de Haan, Greg Grant, Santiago Echavarria, Veronica Velez. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi team (from left to right) Nicholas Lamb, Janice Weber, Stephen de Haan, Greg Grant, Santiago Echavarria, Veronica Velez. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Operating partners Stephen de Haan and Greg Grant conceived Amalfi Cucina after traveling to Italy and studying with the Neapolitan pizza maestros at Pizzeria Mattozzi and Pizzeria Da Attilio in Naples.

“It’s really beautiful food, and a beautiful culture,” de Haan said last week before the Amalfi Buckhead opening. “It’s the most simple food in the world, but the hardest to duplicate,” Grant added.

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Amalfi Calamaio with calamari, capers, and tomato basil sauce finished with a lemon aioli. Amalfi's Buckhead menu includes more seafood. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi Calamaio with calamari, capers, and tomato basil sauce finished with a lemon aioli. Amalfi's Buckhead menu includes more seafood. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi Calamaio with calamari, capers, and tomato basil sauce finished with a lemon aioli. Amalfi's Buckhead menu includes more seafood. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

In keeping with the downtown location, the centerpiece of the new restaurant is a 6,000-pound, wood-fired Italian pizza oven. But under the direction of executive chef Santiago Echavarria, the Buckhead menu has been enhanced to include more seafood, new entrees, and signature desserts.

“We were looking to come to Buckhead. It’s just a big part of the city,” de Haan said. “And when this space opened, we thought about what we could do to evolve.”

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Amalfi Margherita D.O.P. Pizza with hand-crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh fior di latte mozzarella, pecorino Romano, and fresh basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi Margherita D.O.P. Pizza with hand-crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh fior di latte mozzarella, pecorino Romano, and fresh basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi Margherita D.O.P. Pizza with hand-crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh fior di latte mozzarella, pecorino Romano, and fresh basil. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

One part of the concept came about during the early days of the pandemic, when Grant started operating a market inside the restaurant, and offering takeout and curbside pickup.

“We had access to toilet paper, and paper towels, and cleaning supplies, and food when you couldn’t get some of those things at the grocery store,” Grant said.

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The market area at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead evolved from patterns that emerged during the pandemic. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The market area at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead evolved from patterns that emerged during the pandemic. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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The market area at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead evolved from patterns that emerged during the pandemic. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi’s retail market in Buckhead is stocking fresh pasta and house-made sauces, plus Italian cheese, cured meats, wines, and other imported products, and pizza kits and other meals to go are on the horizon.

“The company has been doing a lot of sourcing with ingredients from the Naples region of Italy,” Echavarria said. “So that’s the flour and the extra-virgin olive oil. Some of the salami that we use for the pizzas, we use for the market, and also cheeses from that area.”

With a new outpost of Red Phone Booth taking up half the 11,000-square-foot space, which is situated under a parking garage, Amalfi was redesigned from the ground up by Casie Davis of CDM Interiors.

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The space at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead was totally redesigned. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The space at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead was totally redesigned. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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The space at Amalfi Cucina & Mercato in Buckhead was totally redesigned. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

A soaring ceiling is dotted with rustic chandeliers, and recycled vintage brick columns and wooden beams surround cozy tables and horseshoe banquettes. There’s a small sidewalk patio in front, along with an inviting L-shaped bar near the entrance.

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Amalfi Veal Bolognese with ground beef and veal, marinara sauce, and pappardelle. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi Veal Bolognese with ground beef and veal, marinara sauce, and pappardelle. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi Veal Bolognese with ground beef and veal, marinara sauce, and pappardelle. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“We just wanted it to be clean and comfortable, and a place where you felt like you were being transported back to Italy,” de Haan said. “But more than anything, it’s beautiful food that doesn’t have to break the bank, and that you can enjoy with family and friends.

“I think there’s kind of three iterations to Amalfi. One is what Greg and I opened in 2016. That was really all about the pizza. When COVID came, we saw guests really enjoying our pastas, so we’re up to eight or so downtown. Now, with a chef as talented as Santiago, it’s allowed us to try more things here. And it’s the intention to eventually bring some of that downtown.”

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Amalfi Tartufo E Funghi Carnevale Pizza with gourmet mushroom blend, fontina, truffle oil, and ricotta-filled crust. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi Tartufo E Funghi Carnevale Pizza with gourmet mushroom blend, fontina, truffle oil, and ricotta-filled crust. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi Tartufo E Funghi Carnevale Pizza with gourmet mushroom blend, fontina, truffle oil, and ricotta-filled crust. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Of course, Amalfi’s signature Neapolitan pizzas are still a major part of the menu, including a variation on the popular Carnevale made with a gourmet mushroom blend, fontina cheese, truffle oil, and a ricotta-filled crust.

Entrees and pastas include Veal Bolognese with pappardelle pasta; Chicken Parmigiano with spaghetti and tomato basil sauce; Veal Marsala with Parmesan risotto and Broccolini; Lobster “Aragosta” Ravioli with sherry wine and lobster butter; and Seared Ahi Tuna with beet puree and herb chile oil.

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Amalfi Veal Marsala with mushroom Marsala wine sauce, Parmesan risotto, and Broccolini. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi Veal Marsala with mushroom Marsala wine sauce, Parmesan risotto, and Broccolini. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi Veal Marsala with mushroom Marsala wine sauce, Parmesan risotto, and Broccolini. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“The fun part is to keep evolving and just keep refreshing yourself,” Grant said. “COVID kind of forced our hand to do that. But now that we have all these added pieces to the team, we see that we can change gears. Whether it’s new dishes or seasonal menus, we have that in our wheelhouse now.”

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Amalfi's The Spritz cocktail with burnt orange, bright citrus, and bubbles, and Franco's Fizz cocktail with grapefruit and almond. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Amalfi's The Spritz cocktail with burnt orange, bright citrus, and bubbles, and Franco's Fizz cocktail with grapefruit and almond. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

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Amalfi's The Spritz cocktail with burnt orange, bright citrus, and bubbles, and Franco's Fizz cocktail with grapefruit and almond. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

DINING OUT

5-10 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays; 5-11 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Reservations available on OpenTable.

3242 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 678-973-0903, amalfipizzaatl.com.

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