REVIEW: At Tre Vele, fancy digs dazzle more than modern Italian food

A makeover helped Tre Vele's interior design match the upscale Italian vibe of its food. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
A makeover helped Tre Vele's interior design match the upscale Italian vibe of its food. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Editor’s note: After 20 months, the AJC’s weekly dining reviews are back. Reviews were suspended due to COVID-19 safety concerns and the economic impact of the pandemic on the food-service industry.

For the most part, the critiques remain the same, with one exception: no stars for now. Reviews will also address COVID-19 health and safety practices, when appropriate. In addition, coverage may include reviews of nontraditional food-service concepts, including pop-ups in residence, that reflect today’s dining landscape.

Restaurant reviews will be published on AJC.com each Thursday and in the Go Guide of the Friday print edition.

Evviva!

Snagging sips of my husband’s gin-spiked spritz, poking fork tines into half-moon-shaped pasta stuffed with billowy ricotta, and folding a wonderfully floppy slice of Quattro Stagioni pizza at Tre Vele, I felt gratitude and joy for the all-encompassing magic of restaurants that I’ve missed during 20 months of takeout or from a perch on a patio.

Evviva! Hurrah for the thought that goes into an interior design makeover such as that which turned the former Three Sheets lounge in Sandy Springs into a dining room befitting an upscale Italian concept. Hurrah for a cordial, informed waitstaff. Hurrah for a kitchen that strives to distinguish itself with modern Italian cuisine.

Open since late September, Tre Vele is the newest project from chef Ian Winslade and brothers Jonathan and Ryan Akly. In 2018, the trio teamed up to open Mission + Market in Buckhead. This time, they repurposed the space that housed the Aklys’ Three Sheets at the City Walk complex into Tre Vele. (The name, which translates to “three sails,” is a nod to the previous tenant.)

It’s an ambitious endeavor. Besides a 3,500-square-foot dining room and backlit bar, there’s a patio, a rooftop lounge, a retail market and all-day cafe.

As I perused a dinner menu of antipasti, salads, pizza, pasta, secondi (meat and fish dishes) and contorni (sides), a dining partner commented that the place and the carte reminded her of another Italian restaurant and market: Storico Fresco in Buckhead. Indeed, Storico Fresco alum Giancarlo Ruiz happens to be Tre Vele’s executive chef. Ruiz grew up in Florence, but the Tre Vele menu is not limited to that region of Italy or any other.

Grilled baby artichokes, a signature dish of Roman Jewish cooking, featured brightly on a plate with salsa verde that delivered a subtle umami kick thanks to anchovies. So delicious was this smooth sauce, that we shifted from dunking complimentary house-made focaccia into a ramekin of grassy olive oil to swiping it on the Italian green sauce. A starter of cured, smoked swordfish was not as enticing, its fish essence drowned by orange citrus and Calabrian chile.

Two salads that read well on the menu both brought disappointment on the plate. A farro salad was underdressed (with barely a hint of saba or basil oil). The unexpected combination of maraschino-marinated pineapple, radish and toasted pumpkins might have been tastier had the bed of tough kale leaves been massaged.

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Tre Vele's fresh pasta also can be purchased in its market. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Tre Vele's fresh pasta also can be purchased in its market. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Tre Vele's fresh pasta also can be purchased in its market. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

A pasta-making station on display behind a glass window adjacent to the cafe ordering counter is evidence that Tre Vele devotes a great deal of labor to rolling out sheets of lasagna, strands of spaghetti, ribbons of fettuccine and pappardelle, and spirals of strozzapreti. But, once sauced, well-made pasta brought more misses than hits. The white wine sauce for a shrimp-studded plate of spaghetti was a wet mess. Cacio e pepe was creamy and cheesy but lacked the cranks of black pepper that give this minimalist dish part of its name. Lamb ragu tangled with pappardelle was dry.

But that mezzaluna, stuffed with cheese and spinach and served in a simple brown butter sauce with fried sage leaves, was lovely. A vegan dish of twisty strozzapreti tossed in kale pesto and garnished with pumpkin seeds was wholly satisfactory but admittedly boring after a few bites. So share it.

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Tre Vele's Quattro Stagioni pizza is so good that you probably won't be shy about grabbing another slice. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Tre Vele's Quattro Stagioni pizza is so good that you probably won't be shy about grabbing another slice. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Tre Vele's Quattro Stagioni pizza is so good that you probably won't be shy about grabbing another slice. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

In fact, the shareability of its many plates makes Tre Vele an ideal spot for a couple’s night out or other adult gathering. I would recommend both pizzas that I ordered — Salame Picante (generously topped with pepperoni) and the Quattro Stagioni. Especially the Quattro Stagioni. Scattered atop tomato sauce were prosciutto, artichokes, olives, mushrooms (shiitake, oyster and portobello) and melty mozzarella. That high-heat-blasted 12-inch Neapolitan pie offered doughy edges, blistered air pockets and a wonderful foldability that made me forget my manners and grab slices with my hands. It’s a pizza for all seasons.

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Fans of braised oxtail won't want to miss Tre Vele's Coda Alla Vaccinara. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Fans of braised oxtail won't want to miss Tre Vele's Coda Alla Vaccinara. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Fans of braised oxtail won't want to miss Tre Vele's Coda Alla Vaccinara. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Prime for this season is the braised oxtail, a generous portion made all the more generous with roasted potatoes. I don’t consider it necessarily Italian; it’s a hearty dish one can find at many new American restaurants these days. This rendition is worth ordering.

Tre Vele enters the Sandy Springs scene at a time when that city’s independent restaurant landscape offers more options than ever. The restaurant’s well-appointed indoor and floral-decked outdoor spaces provide ambiance. A solid bar program brings quality spritzes, cocktails and a nicely curated, Italian-focused wine list. The waitstaff delivers top-notch service. With a few tweaks, the food could deliver, too.

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Caption
Quality spritzes, such as this Rose Spritz, enhance the mood at Tre Vele. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Quality spritzes, such as this Rose Spritz, enhance the mood at Tre Vele. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Quality spritzes, such as this Rose Spritz, enhance the mood at Tre Vele. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

TRE VELE

Food: Italian

Service: affable, professional and informed

Best dishes: grilled artichokes, pizzas, mezzaluna pasta, braised oxtail

Vegetarian selections: grilled artichokes, mushroom bruschetta, all salads, margherita and Vegano pizzas, various pasta dishes, vegetable side dishes

Alcohol: full bar with a thoughtful selection of spritzes, classic cocktails and Italian wines

Price range: $$$

COVID safety: Staff was consistently masked during my two visits. If you aren’t yet comfortable dining in, there’s an inviting, although uncovered, patio with a decent amount of space between the six tables. The spacious covered rooftop bar and terrace with a fire pit (and soon gas heaters) is not currently full service, but you can take your drink there and sip al fresco.

Credit cards: all major credit cards accepted

Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (abbreviated menu); dinner: 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; cafe: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays

Children: if well behaved

Parking: free lot

MARTA station: no

Reservations: recommended

Wheelchair access: yes

Noise level: low

Takeout: yes (online ordering coming soon)

Address, phone: 6017 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs; 404-303-8423

Website: treveleatl.com

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