Atlanta Orders In: A Mano takes bar outside to make takeout more appealing

A feast of takeout from A Mano in the Old Fourth Ward (clockwise from upper left): fried okra, carbonara, eggplant Parmesan, blistered shishitos and fig salad. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A feast of takeout from A Mano in the Old Fourth Ward (clockwise from upper left): fried okra, carbonara, eggplant Parmesan, blistered shishitos and fig salad. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

For George DeMeglio, a job is just a job, unless it has a sense of purpose.

His decision to open a restaurant came near the end of a successful, 33-year career in engineering. “It was as close to voice from God as I’ve ever experienced,” said DeMeglio, 60, of the journey that led him to sell his home in Candler Park and buy property in the Old Fourth Ward, where he now lives and runs the 3-year-old Italian restaurant, A Mano.

When the pandemic forced A Mano to suspend table service and offer takeout for the first time, DeMeglio realized he’d have to reinvent his business if he wanted it to feed his soul. “We had no connection with anybody,” he said. “We were bringing a bag out to a car.”

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A Mano’s carbonara is made with tagliatelle, pancetta, grana, peas and a farm egg. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A Mano’s carbonara is made with tagliatelle, pancetta, grana, peas and a farm egg. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

At the suggestion of an employee, he moved the bar outside in April, placing it under a tent. Guests seemed to enjoy having a drink while they waited for orders, so he added a second tent, with tables, so they could eat al fresco. Along with its already existing patio, the neighborhood spot on Ralph McGill Boulevard now has space for about 30 customers to sit safely outside. The interior remains closed, and DeMeglio thinks it will stay that way for the long haul.

Last week marked another first for A Mano: lunch service.

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This takeout order from A Mano includes fig salad, blistered shishitos and fried okra. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
This takeout order from A Mano includes fig salad, blistered shishitos and fried okra. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

DeMeglio surmised that many residents of the densely populated urban neighborhood are working at home. The lunch menu was created with them in mind. On offer are $8 paninis (porchetta; smoked turkey with Granny Smith apples and Gorgonzola; grilled chicken with prosciutto and smoked mozzarella, among others), a Philly cheesesteak, and a meatball sandwich. The combo is a deal: For $10, you get a sandwich, house-made chips, a snickerdoodle cookie and a nonalcoholic drink.

Up front is A Mano’s eggplant parmesan, with carbonara in the background. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
Up front is A Mano’s eggplant parmesan, with carbonara in the background. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Until his family moved to Douglas County when he was 14, DeMeglio lived in a Philadelphia suburb. His was a close-knit family of Italian immigrants, but it wasn’t until he went to Italy for the first time, while in his late 30s, that he began to understand the country’s cuisine. When he decided to open his restaurant, he wanted to replicate the simple, flavorful food that he encountered in Italy.

He found a mentor in BuccaLupo chef Bruce Logue. In exchange for investing in Logue’s Edgewood Avenue spot, DeMeglio received an education in running a restaurant. He hired opening chef Chandler Cottingham, and A Mano was born.

A Mano, at the corner of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Randolph Street, has put its bar outside, and added tents and tables, so customers can enjoy their takeout on the property. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Caption
A Mano, at the corner of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Randolph Street, has put its bar outside, and added tents and tables, so customers can enjoy their takeout on the property. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

In March, DeMeglio had to furlough half of his 20-member staff. Cottingham since has left to pursue other opportunities. Sous chef Christopher Suarez was promoted to executive chef, and, with the uptick in patio business, the restaurant now has 14 employees on the payroll.

For a man who wanted to create a restaurant because he enjoys hospitality, DeMeglio is making do with his pandemic patio.

Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

A MANO

Menu: contemporary Italian, centered on house-made pastas, plus a few entrees

Alcohol: beer and wine available to go or on the patio; cocktails on the patio

What I ordered: carbonara with side salad; eggplant Parmesan; fig salad; fried okra; shishito peppers. The food was bright, delicious and well-seasoned. One observation: The staff should take care to package hot food and cold condiments separately. The okra was so hot, it warped the remoulade container. The fig salad was good, but I couldn’t find the dressing.

Service options: takeout only, but guests may hang outside; order online, by phone or in person; no delivery

Safety protocols: staff screened for wellness daily; all employees wear masks; customers are asked to wear masks; except for using the restroom, guests aren’t allowed inside

Address, phone: 587 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta; 404-549-7727.

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

Website: amanoatl.com

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