Atlanta Orders In: 04W Pizza in Duluth is focusing more on pies, less on table service

No longer at Nina & Rafi, restaurateur Anthony Spina has plenty of projects on his plate

Since moving to Atlanta in 2014, pizza master Anthony Spina has sold his killer Grandma Pie at a walk-up spot by the Beltline; opened a full-service pizza parlor in Duluth; and partnered in possibly the fanciest pizza restaurant the city ever has known.

After trying it all, the New Jersey native is done with table service.

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

This isn’t just a pandemic-related decision. Nor is it a knee-jerk response to the recent bombshell announcement that he no longer is in charge of the kitchen at Nina & Rafi, the spiffy high-end restaurant he founded with partner Billy Streck in 2019.

Even before COVID-19, Spina felt the urge to focus more on pizza and less on service. A pizza Nazi who takes every online review to heart, he said he rarely got an unkind word about his pies. The majority of gripes were about his servers.

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

“I figured the best way to get ahold of the situation and get ahead of it was to do away with what we are lacking,” he said. While the construction of new residential property in downtown Duluth has brought him more customers, the lack of public transportation makes it harder to find employees.

“In a way, the pandemic kind of helped me push my agenda of making O4W a regular old pizza place — takeout, delivery, counter service kind of thing,” he said.

Since March, he’s beefed up pizza-by-the-slice offerings; added subs, heroes and garlic knots; and eliminated some hot pasta dishes. At the same time, he has decreased the number of seats in the pizzeria, and he lets guests worry about finding a table and schlepping their food.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Citing legal concerns, Spina, 47, was circumspect about his severed ties with Nina & Rafi. “I was basically not wanted is all I can really say,” Spina told me in a phone interview, echoing a previously published report in Atlanta magazine. He confirmed that he still owns a 30 percent share. Streck, for his part, issued a statement saying he wishes Spina “nothing but the best,” and will continue to serve the same menu.

Spina may be down by a restaurant, but he has a full plate, nonetheless.

This week or next, he plans to roll out a pizza truck, which will offer his best-known creations (Grandma, Detroit, Jersey-style), by the whole pie or slice, at undisclosed spots in the historic West End. He acquired the truck out of fear that he might lose O4W Pizza during the pandemic. Now that business is back, he can relax a bit. Down the road, he’ll use the truck mostly for catering gigs — parties, events, etc.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Early next year (February, if all goes as planned), he’ll open Pizza by the Slice in the former Goin’ Coastal space in Virginia-Highland. The counter-service establishment will sell pizzas, slices, subs and a couple of salads. Intown fans of Spina’s piece de resistance, the Grandma Pie, now offered only in Duluth, will rejoice to hear Granny’s back in town.

In retooling O4W Pizza, Spina said he followed the playbook he sketched out for Pizza by the Slice. “What you see at the slice shop will pretty much be what you will you see from me anywhere going forward,” he said, hinting at future projects.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

One thing he learned from operating O4W Pizza in tandem with Nina & Rafi was the importance of consistency. Since he can’t be in two kitchens at once, he’s in the process of building a “dough commissary,” a centralized kitchen that will make the crust for all his pies.

“If I do it at one spot, for all places, then I have a lot (better) chance of getting the same product every time somebody walks into any location.”

Heard. Just don’t expect a server to bring you your pie.

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O4W Pizza

Menu: pizza, salads, sandwiches

Alcohol: beer and wine

What I ordered: Jersey Shore pizza (breaded chicken, fried onions, hot cherry peppers and prosciutto); Spicy Italian pizza (Grandma pie topped with meatballs, pepperoni, Calabrian chiles, and ricotta); Greek salad; Kitchen Sink sub (with ham, capicola, salami, turkey, roast beef). The pies were as magnificent as always. The sub was loaded with meat, though I would have liked it a bit oilier. The salad was fresh, and perfect for next-day lunch.

Service options: dine-in (counter service only); takeout and delivery via Uber Eats, DoorDash, Caviar and ChowNow

Outdoor dining: yes

Mask policy: yes, for employees and customers

Address, phone: 3117 Main St., Duluth; 678-587-5420

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 12:30-9 p.m. Sundays


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