Omnivore - Back to Gio's for chicken and a taste of gelato
Satisfying a craving at Gio's.
I've been craving Gio's Chicken Amalfitano for weeks. Friends have refused to return because they didn't like the pasta. Hello, it's a chicken restaurant, so why not try the featured dishes? They refuse.
I talked Wayne into going after we saw Blue Jasmine last Saturday. The place was packed, as usual, with the community tables encouraging conversation with strangers. Generally, I think one effect of really good cooking is disinhibition - with or without wine.
"The food here is really good, isn't it?" a woman seated to my right said. She was sharing a plate of the chicken with her companion. "Are you going to eat that all yourself?"
? ? ?
A young couple to my left said they'd already tried and enjoyed the gelato at the adjoining Caffé Gio. It opened just the day before. I'd completely forgotten.
The chicken was, as usual, spectacular. I ordered the Amalfi version with castelvetrano olives, cippoline onions, olive oil, garlic, and Italian bread crumbs. Wayne chose the Scarpiello with salsiccia, dolce piccante peppers, cipolline, and aceto rosso. I scarfed it down. He only ate half his serving.
"You ate all that?" the rail-thin guy to my left asked, apparently incredulous.
"I didn't eat lunch today," I said. "I deserve this, but y'all are giving me a complex."
After dinner we did visit Caffé Gio, accessible through a door in the rear of the restaurant. Giovanni Di Palma - owner of Caffé Gio as well as Amalfi and neighboring Antico Pizza - was on duty behind the gelato case. On his recommendation, I got a scoop of the cinnamon-vanilla and another of coffee.
The original plan at Caffé Gio was to feature gelati from Morelli's, but Di Palma decided to import the dense, creamy stuff from Italy instead. The reason he changed his mind was doubt that Morelli's could keep up with the new cafe's volume. I loved my two scoops, but I gotta say I missed Morelli's assortment of offbeat flavors. But I have no doubt the perfectionist Di Palma will be wowing our guts.
Caffé Gio is open for lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily. You'll find panini, pastries, and coffee drinks in addition to the gelati.
Di Palma is also starting up an open-air limoncello bar and Italian market across the street, effectively turning the block of Hemphill Ave. into Little Italy Down South (or "Piazza San Gennaro," as it's actually being called.)
Oh. I couldn't find the trash can to deposit my gelato cup. Di Palma caught me leaving it on the table and pointed at a huge ice cream cone nearby. "You can't not use our fantastic trash containers!" he said. If our Best of Atlanta had a "best restaurant trash can" category, I think it would have to win.