A Little Italy 5

When you dine at an Italian restaurant in Atlanta, you wouldn’t expect to see a pie on the menu. No, I’m not talking about pizza pie, I’m talking about a flaky, buttery pie crust filled like a shepherds pie or a chicken pot pie. At Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante, the timballo was just that: a pie filled with Berkshire meatballs, tortelloni, ricotta, grana padano and pomodoro.

“Timballo is a celebrated dish for Italian festivals and religious holidays like Easter and Christmas,” says co-owner Mike Patrick. “At Storico Fresco, we wanted to make this dish (that is known for being inaccessible) accessible to our customers.”

Turns out this distinctly Italian dish varies depending on the region. In Emilia-Romagna, rice, game birds and pasta are the choice for filling, whereas in Sicily the timballo is stuffed with eggplant and pasta. Patrick traveled to many of these regions of Italy to explore and learn the culinary art of the country, from working in a porchetta production facility and pasta facilities throughout the country, to connecting with the pasta-making networks of local nonnas (Italian grandmothers).

Some may know the Storico Fresco name primarily from the stand at Peachtree Road Farmers’ Market, which has been a mainstay at the market since 2009. Patrick started with just a pasta production facility that occasionally hosted pop-up dinners with themed menus, but his passion for owning an Italian restaurant was always in the back of his mind. Once he met with Pietro Gianni, now his partner in Storico Fresco, the Italian eatery and specialty grocery store became a reality.

When dining at Storico Fresco, deviate beyond the traditional Italian offerings of Bolognese and ravioli, because the menu boasts many other diverse pasta shapes. “Many Americans assume that filled pasta is ravioli, but that is not the case,” says Gianni. “For example, our pi fasaac (which means swaddled baby) is an example of a unique pasta shape that delicately holds the cheese and spinach filling.”

Storico’s lunch and dinner menus are similar, although lunch portions are smaller and offer a section of paninis.  For Antipasti, the Callipo tuna with cannellini beans, lemon and parsley is a refreshing way to start the meal. If you want to go for a more indulgent starter, try the panzerotti. Imagine a miniature calzone the size of a hand pie and deep fried, then stuffed with smoky caciocavallo cheese, finocchiona sausage and ricotta that oozes out at first bite.

Portions are sizeable at dinner and one plate will satisfy your appetite. If you’re in the mood for a sweet, filled pasta, go for the bertu con guanciale, semi-circles of Italian sausage and ricotta-filled pasta topped with cotechino, a meat similar to salami. If you can handle the heat, the chitarra arrabiata is your spicy version of spaghetti, with mozzarella di bufala campana to tone down the spiciness. The Mains focus primarily on meat-heavy offerings, such as the tender, fall off the bone costola, a Barola-braised short rib served over creamy polenta.

Make room for dessert and get the zeppoli, two fried dough balls with a zingy lemon cream filling. Those who prefer some caffeine for dessert should go for the affogato, zabaglione semifriddo (a creamy egg-like custard) topped with espresso.

Use Storico’s Alimentari to purchase hand-made pastas and try your luck with them at home. The retail pasta menu rotates every three weeks, so you’ll always have different options. You can even get a slice of the timballo, with vegetarian or chicken meatball varieties in addition to the Berkshire meatball option that is on the dine-in menu. Another difference between the menu and the market is the lasagnas, where you can order from a variety of different vegetarian options in addition to the classic “carne” offerings.

At Storico Fresco, the atmosphere is vibrant and energetic, so come here when you don’t mind a little bit of ambient noise. You’ll find yourself in a little pocket of Italy in the heart of Buckhead.

Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante

3167 Peachtree Road NE, Suite S