Omnivore - Revisiting three newbies

I've revisited three new restaurants during the last few days. You may be sick of hearing about it, but the first was La Pietra Cucina. Look at this special (above) I had for lunch last Friday.

It's veal hanger steak, sliced and placed over Swiss chard and polenta, surrounded by oven roasted tomatoes and some kalamata olives. How many veal hanger steaks have you run into in our city? The contrast of the chard and sweet tomatoes really made this dish.

We also returned to Noni's Italian Deli and Bar. We had a great meal that included this New-York-Italian-style eggplant and chicken parmigiana (above, right). The chicken was a flattened breast, lightly coated in flour and fried, then topped with homemade mozzarella and a thick slice of eggplant and tomato sauce. The chicken was still crispy, a very nice effect not normally encountered in this dish. Wayne had the house-made tagliatelle with a very savory, bright lemon-anchovy sauce.

Our appetizers were a fritto misto and a caprese salad made with thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes. Yes, they are still serving the dish with some reduced balsamic vinegar, despite the objections of purists like Elisa Gambino of Via Elisa. "I know it's not 'authentic'," owner Matt Ruppert told me. "But everyone expects it."

Finally, I returned to the new location of Joli Kobe. I ordered the day's special — two crepes filled with chicken and mushrooms, topped with melted cheese and salad (above, left). The dish felt quite retro to me as I ordered it — I haven't eaten crepes in years — but it was ideal. The kitchen makes two fluffy, almost pancake-like crepes, stuffs them and folds them neatly. The chopped cubes of chicken and the button mushrooms were fresh.

I also couldn't resist buying a sugar cookie and some croissants, including an almond one. The pastries are still among the city's best — part of what has made the Sandy Springs location so popular for more than two decades.

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