Antico Revisited

From all the long, late night conversations I’ve had with various scallywags debating the best pizza that’s ever been made, Antico has rapidly approached legendary status. I got the chance to form my own opinion about two years ago. After the first bite I was impressed. I was swept off my feet by how good the pizza actually was. The all-time pizza standings at that moment had Antico a close second, trailing Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, the Jacques Cousteau of pizza, by a sliver of anchovy. A distant third was Cici’s pizza. Nobody beats that cardboard flavored crust. Then there was a calm in the pizza ranking game. My beliefs were unwavering. It’s been three years since my last slice at Grimaldi’s, still no one could match the way their pies made me feel. However, all the praise that Antico received by friend after friend visiting Atlanta, waxing poetic about their life altering experience can really test ones loyalty.

I couldn’t take it anymore!!!

Let me take a slice, I mean a swing at this and maybe I’ll fall in line. I have just one friend that has had both, and he had visited both within a few months of one another. My question to him, as I made my way to Antico for much needed closure, was a simple one. “Which is your favorite?”, his answer? Antico. I actually didn’t expect that answer. I felt like Tom Hanks on an island alone with my thoughts…and a volleyball.

When you drive up to the entrance of Antico, you’ll probably pass right by it at first, because it doesn’t really look like much, maybe an old lawyers office or something (actually it was a bakery). It looks pretty sparse from the outside. This place will completely fool you. As you make your way to the door, your brain switches from trying to figure out if you’re in the right place, to trying to figure out how people can pack themselves inside the building like so many sardines. Now this is where you have to start changing the way you think about a dining hall. You have to stop worrying about the 75 people in line trying to get their orders in before the place runs out of dough, as well as dozens more milling about waiting for their pizzas. You have to have the mindset that there are some things in life worth waiting for. It’s like waiting to ride Space Mountain. Even though you’re standing behind a smelly European family for 90 minutes in prison-like conditions, the moment you get your butt in that space capsule, it makes everything worthwhile. The moment you get a speck of the charred crust and some of the freshest tomato sauce to hit your deprived tongue, it makes any amount of time spent waiting seem like mere seconds.

The most amazing thing happened on my most recent stop at Antico. A special limited edition pizza was being made called “The Sophia”. Not only was it inspired by Sophia Loren which I love, it had bufala mozzarella , cipollini onions, porcini mushrooms, black truffles, and truffle oil. I literally crapped my pants from excitement, alright not literally. It only took about 10-15 minutes to get our pies. We decided to get them to-go as there wasn’t a chance we would ever be able to get a table. I had the task of taking the pizzas to the car where my party of seven was awaiting my heroic return. The aroma from the front door all the way back to the car was palpable. As we opened the “Sophia” I slowly let out a very softly spoken “whoa”. I quickly grabbed my slice before offering any to the other passengers. Hey, it’s not my fault I was given the task of transporter. As I took my first bite I had to close my eyes and study all the unique flavors that I believe only the masterminds at Antico could create. As I said earlier, first that char grabs hold, then you get the flavor and texture of the roasted porcini. Next the truffle scent enters your nostrils and you become engulfed in the ordeal. It’s very spiritual to me. Physically the pizza makes your body involuntarily spasm into what scientists have referred to as a grin. I think that’s how you spell it. If you allow food to make you happy and move you positively through life, you will no doubt find Antico to be incomparable. As for it being “the best”? You want to know a secret I’ve never told anyone until now? Here, come a little closer, because I don’t want Jimmy to hear. I think Antico has done it.

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