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This past Monday
Henry Winkler "The Fonz"
was interviewed on 11-Alive news
and raved about Antica Posta

   



"The risotto with truffles will make you sing from the inside without ever opening your mouth,"
he said. "I'm telling you it's like extraordinary.
Antica Posta,
Maybe one of the best Italian restaurants on the entire
East Coast of America.
Henry Winkler - Interview on 11-Alive News
 

By MERIDITH FORD
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/15/2005
Overall rating: **** 4 Stars
Food: Regional Italian from Tuscany
Service: Always friendly, usually formal, but not necessarily perfect
Setting: A small house remade, with a spacious bar area and intimate dining.
Colors are rustic golds and reds, with exposed ceiling beams.


DUCK RAGU, TORTELLI AND CARPACCIO DI MANZO JUST MIGHT CLUE YOU IN THAT YOU'VE REACHED A LAND FAR, FAR AWAY


Scallops over chickpea puree


Carpaccio

Duck Ragu over tortelli

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SOMETHING HAPPENS TO Italian food when it comes to the United States. It loses its sincerity and gains an attitude.

This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. It's good if you don't mind "cucina povera" being elevated to the sort of stuff Mario Batali might serve at the White House. It's bad if you understand that Italian food at its most extravagant is, by definition,
neither elaborate nor fanciful.

Italian food is peasants' food, based on what's at hand, whether that's fresh tomatoes or hand-made tagliatelle. It's based on ingredients, and it's been that way for several hundred years. There is no slow food movement in Italy — all the food is slow food. Simple. Seasonal. Basic. Grounded.

On this side of the Atlantic, Italian restaurant food can be placed into two basic categories: the schlocky "gravy"-and-gooey-cheese kind (which has many fine attributes), or the higher brow efforts devoted to the many regions of the country shaped like a boot.

Antica Posta falls into the latter category, its menu focused on one of Italy's most famous regions — Toscana, or Tuscany. This western region just above Italy's "knee" is famous for lots more than books made into movies starring Diane Lane.

Tuscany's contributions to the culinary world are vast. This is where crostini was born. Finocchiona, the famed fennel-flavored salami, comes from Tuscany. Fagioli all'uccelletto — stewed cannellini beans — are a staple here. And then there's a little old wine called Chianti.

If it's been a while since you visited Antica Posta, it's time to go back. There's something miraculous about a restaurant that ages well. Especially an Italian restaurant.

Because here, the dishes on the menu appear like a gallery of old friends. Here is the duck ragu, this time over fat pillows of spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed tortelli, spruced up with a bit more vinegary flavor and less like a Bolognese sauce as it has been in the past. Here, too, is the carpaccio di manzo — a heap of arugula, chopped into a fine chiffonade and peppered with bits of tangy parmigiano and covered with a blanket of buttery raw meat.

The list goes on: fat seared sea scallops over a smooth, earthy puree of chickpeas have long been a favorite, as has the ribeye, served Piedmontese style, with the meat grilled, then sliced and fanned over a bed of nutty arugula.

Specials are usually reserved for veal and seafood, and rarely disappoint. Farfalle might be served with a wonderful mishmash of lobster meat and white wine; sea bass is often served well seasoned and whole, its crusty tail flopped over the edge of the plate. If you're lucky, you'll go on a night when the kitchen has fresh squash blossoms, puffy and deep fried to an ethereal perfection.

The restaurant's interior is as friendly as the menu, a cavernous house with warming colors and exposed wooden ceiling beams. On busy nights, the din still makes it difficult to hear. The comfortable, not-so-new-anymore bar area makes a pre-meal prosecco a must.

Owner Marco Betti's staff provides a yin yang of service. Always courteous, at busy times they can be slow and plodding; during lulls, they pay too much attention to you. They'll tell you the gelati is made inhouse (you'll suspect it isn't) and offer up the peppermill far too quickly. Frankly, all the desserts seem a little off, as if they've been sitting too long waiting for their place on the plate. The semifreddo has a flavor that hints freezer burn, and the tiramisu is the same ubiquitous concoction of soaked cake and cream found from here to Maine. I doubt this version shows up in Italy at all.

But in Tuscany, the meal would end with a fine Pecorino anyway. Antica Posta offers a Parmigiano-Reggiano. Order it and a frothy, well-made espresso. Sit back and breath in the aroma of cheese and coffee.

 


Antica Posta

Overall rating:
Food: Regional Italian from Tuscany
Service: Always friendly, usually
formal, but not necessarily perfect
Setting: A small house remade, with a spacious bar area and intimate dining. Colors are rustic golds and reds, with exposed ceiling beams.

Best dishes: carpaccio with arugula and Parmigiano, Piedmontese rib eye steak, duck ragu over spinach-and-ricotta tortelli, scallops over chickpea puree
Full bar: Yes; have a Bellini while you wait for your table.
Reservations: Recommended
Vegetarian selections: Mozzarella with tomatoes and arugula, tagliatelle with tomato sauce,
spinach-and-ricotta ravioli
Children: Only in the early evening hours
Parking: Complementary valet
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Noise level: Medium to high
Patio: No
Takeout: No phone orders, but walk-in orders welcome

KEY TO RATINGS
Overall rating: **** 4 Stars

Excellent: One of the best in the Atlanta area.




Kessler's Top 50 Restaurants
"Italian" is a word wide open to interpretation, but at
Antica Posta it means food like you'd find in Italy


2005 GUIDE BOOK: DINING:
Our picks for Ultimate dining
Meridith Ford - Staff
Thursday, July 28, 2005

You'd think a food critic would adore a word such as ultimate: "The mayonnaise on this BLT is ultimate." "Did you taste that sorbet? It was ultimate." "Omigod. The dill in this shrimp salad is so . . . ultimate."

But what does ultimate really mean? Webster's says it's "beyond which it is impossible to go . . . elemental; fundamental; primary."

Well, that I can sink my teeth into.

Wanna know where to get the ultimate Italian? What about the ultimate mojito? Ultimate oysters on the half-shell?

We've scoured the city for the tastiest barbecue, drinks, views, Indian, and the best of what's OTP (outside the Perimeter) in the ATL. We've searched stringently for the most elemental pizza, fundamental margaritas and primary grits and fried chicken.



We've found it. It's here.
Meridith Ford, AJC dining critic

ULTIMATE ITALIAN: Antica Posta

Buckhead

The owners also own a location in Tuscany by the same name. The food is reliably simple and unfuttered, with daily specials that are worth a detour from your favorites. What will be your favorites? Pasta (usually rigatoni or pappardelle) with duck ragu that's half Bolognese, half confit. Or maybe beautifully seared scallops in a creamy, almost soup-like chickpea sauce. Or braised veal shank with roasted potatoes. A hazelnut flavored semi freddo is worth saving room for. 519 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E. 404-262-7112. 5:30-10:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays;
5:30 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays.



As seen in Flavors
The Forum for Atlanta Food Culture and Dining
Spring 2005 issue:

A Case for the Italians: Antica Posta
By Susan Peters

When my mouth waters for culinary delicacies of Italy, I pay a visit to the Betti brothers at Antica Posta where Tuscan fare rules.

I liked the Antica Posta location when it was Chef Jean Banchet’s Riviera, a bastion of French cuisine until it closed in 1999. I like the building even more now with the year-old addition on the front that echoes the original façade and houses an expansive and much needed bar and additional seating for casual dining. While perched at the bar on a recent busy Saturday night, I witnessed a parade of dinner guests arriving, some with children in tow, greeting each other and the Antica Posta staff with “buona sera” and baci (kisses). Watching this, while sipping an Italian Syrah (something the bartender recommended that didn’t appear on the wine list), transported me to times past when trips to Italy found me in similar surroundings. Through the French doors separating the bar area from the formal dining room, I saw tables filling up and servers bustling about. I grew concerned that we might lose our reserved table and be seated in the less charming second floor or basement overflow sections. Marco Betti, who runs the front of the house, informed us that our table is held until we are ready for it. Unlike many hybrid American Italian-style eateries, where turning the tables for maximum profit is the goal, hospitable Antica Posta follows the European fashion of reserving your table for the whole evening so guests can linger, converse, savor, and actually dine. To me, this single nicety makes the whole dining experience more authentically Continental than any certain style of food or service. But in those regards, too, Antica Posta does not disappoint.

We dined at leisure, enjoying our slow experience. Butter is churned on site from heavy cream; chops and steaks are portioned from primal cuts; ingredients such as olive oil and Zolfini beans imported by the Bettis are the same ones used at their restaurant in San Casciano, 6 miles south of Florence, also called Antica Posta, which is run by their brother Gianni. The Bettis replicate the experience one would have at their family’s Tuscan outpost here at the Atlanta location. But be forewarned, it’s easy to get caught up in the lure of the moment and end up with a tab that is beyond your expectations.

Antica Posta’s servers can be seductive salesmen as they describe the daily specials: “We have an elegant appetizer of freshly made tagliatelle with white truffle oil and generous shavings of white truffles. You know, this is truffle season in Italy and we just got in some beautiful fresh ones. Also, we have braised wild boar prepared as a ragout with our handmade pasta.” How can we resist such offers no matter the price? We weren’t disappointed. Marco’s brother, Alessandro, known as Sandro, is the chef and rarely disappoints. So, out came more dishes: shelled fresh lobster with farfalle prepared in a light, clean manner that lets the flavor of the lobster shine through; tender veal chops with black truffle butter on a bed of black lentils; and seared sea bass with a crispy crust and succulent interior served with sautéed broccoli, red bell peppers, asparagus and rosemary. On previous visits we have delighted in the fagioli Zolfini, the heirloom beans from the Arno Valley, simply dressed in the extra virgin olive oil; lamb racks marinated in fresh rosemary and olive oil; osso buco; and jumbo prawns baked with parsley, lemon and olive oil, which I’m sorry to report does not appear on the current menu.

Don’t get the idea that a trip to Antica Posta should be reserved only for special occasion meals. The dining room is often filled with a mix of casual groups of friends, couples escaping from the kids for an evening, the ladies-who-lunch doing dinner, and the expense-account set. It’s just as easy to take pleasure in an Antipasti soup or salad and a Primi Piatti pasta dish deftly created by the Italian sous chef, Enrico Bonechi, as it is to enjoy a blow-out Tuscan feast of Antipasti, Primi Piatti, Secondi Piatti and Dolci. Just set your budget and order accordingly. If, like me, you can’t get enough of the Antica Posta experience, buy a bottle of the olive oil to take home with you or join Sandro in the Antica Posta kitchen for a cooking class sometime.



BEST BETS: Our Top 50 - Fall 2004 dining Guide AJC

WHEN IT COMES TO SELECTING Atlanta's Top 50 restaurants, two mouths are definitely better than one. Both Meridith Ford and John Kessler have revisited many of these places; the initials following the restaurant names indicate who made the most revisions to the review.


William Berry / AJC

The bruschetta platter at Antica Posta, with white bean, tomato/basil, porcini mushroom and chicken liver crostino, is just one of the standout dishes.


ANTICA POSTA (JK)

Buckhead

519 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E. 404-262-7112.

If you're in the camp that considers this Tuscan restaurant overrated, give it another go. Unlike other places that keep the status quo, this one stealthily gets better every year. Better ingredients, better presentations and more seasonal specials greet you with each return visit. Expect tomato and bread soup in late summer, ribollita in early winter, white truffles over everything in season. Yes, the food can be plain. But it can also be gorgeously simple: Grilled swordfish means a thin, juicy paillard that hangs from the edges of the plate with an olivey livornese sauce and a tiny salad of shredded bitter lettuces. The gnocchi are reliably pillowy, the house pappardelle with duck ragù a joy. Now, with the new front bar area, you can relax with a negroni while you wait for your table. 5:30-11:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays. $$$.



Antica Posta Marco Betti has reproduced his family restaurant in the Tuscan countryside. Look for the real flavors of the region, from estate- bottled olive oil to white zolfini beans. First courses particularly shine
Author: John Kessler, Staff

Antica Posta*** I can put together a dream menu at Antica Posta: white zolfini beans drizzled with olive oil, then on to crostini with chicken livers, a char-grilled ribeye steak sliced over arugula with a squeeze of lemon and,
finally, a tremulous pannacotta
Author: John Kessler, Staff

"Bet you never thought a bowl of plain beans could be that delicious," said our waitress as she cleared away the empty dish.
She's right. Never in a million years would I have thought that white beans ...
Author: John Kessler, Staff



DINNER CONVERSATION: Antica Posta raises bar
for creating stellar cuisine
John Kessler – Staff . Friday, April 23, 2004

What's new at Antica Posta?

Well, for starters, there's an addition that gobbled up the front yard. Owner Marco Betti added this large room so that customers waiting for a table no longer have to head downstairs to a subterranean bar that always used to feel like a suburban rec room gearing up for a key party. Quiet, darkly illuminated and moody, the new bar sets up quite a contrast with the lively, usually packed dining room in the rear. Now Antica Posta seems even more like a restaurant in Italy --- a place where people get noisy and excited over the food rather than the booze.

Is anything different about the menu? Of course not. The menu never changes at Antica Posta. The list of this restaurant's signature Tuscan specialties remains as familiar to old fans as it proves idiosyncratic to newcomers. The scallops with chickpea puree. The white zolfini beans, naked save for their drizzle of oil. The farfalle pasta with crab meat. The fiorenta steak with arugula. Been there, done that, snarfed this, chewed that. And yet the food does seem different this time. The recipes may not have changed, but there appears to be a little more swagger on the plate, a little more confidence. This kitchen performs more like an elder statesman of fine Italian dining in Atlanta.

Consider the grilled swordfish --- Antica Posta's frequent seafood special. I remember ordering a respectable if dull swordfish steak years ago. Now the kitchen serves a gorgeous paillard, floppy thin but juicy and covering such a large surface area that the edges hang off the sides of the plate. With a small mound of shredded bitter lettuces and a dish of herbal, olivey livornese sauce, this dish shows how simple recipes can have so much more impact that complicated ones. If memory serves right, the duck ragu topping handmade tagliatelle used to involve stewy shreds of meat. Now the ragu comprises coarsely ground duck sweetened with herbs, brightened with tomato and tempered with long cooking. I don't remember ever having a better pasta in this city.

Betti remains bullishly behind the producers he considers worthy of his attention. He makes sure you see the label of the gold-green Pasquini olive oil he drizzles on beans, soups, steaks and into plates alongside the yeasty, crusty homemade rolls. It prickles your palate and catches in the back of your throat. Now Betti delivers pamphlets for Georgetown Farm's Piedmontese Silver beef if you order a porterhouse. Raised and grass-fed in Virginia from Italian cattle crossbred with Herefords, it produces a steak with a lean, muscular flavor.

Though its menu rarely changes, Antica Posta pays attention to the season. And so what does the kitchen do with a shipment of fresh porcini mushrooms? Chops them up, sautes them and heaps them over tender veal scaloppine. Every bite, right to the end, makes you stop and savor. I've had some great meals and some borderline dull meals at Antica Posta. This was the first remarkable one. Antica Posta is at 519 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E., 404-262-7112. It now rates three stars.



Voted Best
Italian Restaurant
For 2001& 2002
By
Atlanta Magazine