Italian-Inspired Comfort Food

For many, Pasta Vino has been around forever. I was a customer for over a decade and now have been the owner for over another. It began thirty years ago when Nico - an Italian restaurant owner in NYC - brought family & staff to Atlanta/Peachtree Battle in the late 80's to create an Italian Food enclave in what is now Pasta Vino, a Trattoria, and Abruzzi, an upscale Ristorante. Abruzzi was at the top of its game for many years as one of Atlanta's best high-end Italian Restaurants. (You can still Google it, it closed several years ago). Pasta Vino, the lesser stepchild and for many years a pizza dive with cheap décor and inconsistent service, survived. One of the first things I realized when I got behind the scenes at Pasta Vino was that it had a lot of talent and a lot of heart but little professionalism. Perhaps its weakness is its strength in this case. I still think of it as a diamond in the rough. I wonder if we will ever make it to that "real restaurant" stage. Still, people here seem to truly love their work and try hard to please. Guests have been coming here for years and personally engage and seem to really enjoy themselves. On its good days, Pasta Vino operates like a feel-good movie.

Pasta Vino is fun. The guests at PV are special people. They call Pasta Vino their kitchen away from home. Many know the staff and call them by name. Some can be seen eating here several times a week and on most nights the tables mingle with couples, families and children from the neighborhood. The wait staff has learned how to order their food cooked the way they want it; bring the bread they want (several times I have tried to change those horrible pizza rolls, but they wont go away??) and the menu they know is from memory. There is a friendliness that is many times missing in Buckhead. No fussiness, just real people being real. Couples linger over their wine, families mingle, children play and an occasional dog lies leashed to a table on the patio.

Sometimes I worry that the wait staff needs new blood, they have been here forever. But who would you replace? Not Jay, the friendly guy who would really give you the shirt off his back; not Sofi, who spends most of his waking hours at Pasta Vino and who never, ever, says a negative word about his customers; not Antonio who would walk through a fire without complaining; and not Johir, a real team player that really cares about doing things right and pleasing the customer. The service can have it's rough spots, but the people do care, they care a lot.

Kids love Pasta Vino's pizza. The food is made from scratch. The sauces start early in the morning and simmer all day. The chicken broth is reduced into a rich golden broth. The grated cheese is imported parmesan reggiano cut from a giant wheel and grated in the kitchen. The whole fish are filleted, the veal leg butchered and the chicken cut and pounded in our kitchen. The meatballs are hand rolled, the gnocchi starts from a pile of flour on the counter. The bright purple eggplants are cut and stacked side-by-side looking like a photo shoot before they are made into Eggplant Parmesan, our signature dish. The Italian sausage is cut into those little slices but it starts from long links that are cooked in our oven. The roasted red peppers are cut and baked in our pizza oven. The salad dressings are made daily. The pizza and bread dough are mixed in our kitchen and get the mandatory refrigerator rise overnight. The garlic is chopped by hand, the pesto starts with bags of fresh basil. Just about everything begins and ends with Tomas. Estaban is a jack of all trades, helping out on the line and bouncing in between to make pizza when necessary. They prep it, simmer it, saute it and put it on your plate. They are totally amazing craftsmen and they work without attitude.

We still do not take reservations but you may call ahead and put your name on the list.