As I've said before, the one perk to the bad economy is the wide variety of deals restaurants come up with the lure us in. My tall, dark and handsome hubby happens to be 100% Italian, and he has long lamented the dearth of good Italian food in Atlanta. He heard La Grotta was one of the best, so we had to try it. Even better, they're running a Stimulus Menu deal, now extended throughout February that offers a glass of wine and 2 courses for $23.95.
I didn't know what to expect, so I was charmed if not completely surprised to find that it's decor is high end Buckhead Italian circa 1985. Located in a nondescript condo, of the pre-boom variety, it's exactly where you'd expect Buckhead Betty's to wine and dine on a Friday night. Envision white linen table clothes with heavy floral upholstered seating, wood paneled ceilings and a 50-something crowd, including one lady actually wearing a full length mink at the bar. I must say I enjoyed my visual flashback, and it was fun to have my own personal Gordon Gecko moment, Atlanta style.
Service is just as obsequious as you might expect in such environs. In other places this might be annoying, but here it fits right in, and anything less just wouldn't work. Best of all, the food was much, much better than I anticipated.
I started with Cozze al Vino Bianco e Crema al Curry (Mussels Sautéed in White Wine, Garlic, Shallots & Curry Cream). Curry is an intriguing choice for an Italian restaurant, but even so, they were some of the best mussels I've had lately. Most often, I ended up with a so-so broth, but this creamy broth, redolent of curry, was oh so dippable, that I scarfed down several pieces of bread solely for the sake of indulging in more. Once I was done, Mr. AT, never one to miss a great dipping opportunity, dug in, too.
Now is the part where I admit I'm a remiss little food reviewer. It was a date night for Mr. AT and I, and my note taking was non-existent, so to be honest, I'm not sure what my entree was. From what I recall, it was a tagliatelle that is no longer on their current menu. It was served with either lamb or veal in a red sauce. Lest you think that being forgettable is bad, here's what I do know, it was actually quite good, but in a more "typical of most good Italian places" kind of way. What was really memorable, though, is that there was a spice in the sauce that caught me quite off-guard. It had a vaguely Middle Eastern taste to it, and I was certain it was something obvious, and yet I couldn't quite place it. Cumin perhaps? What it said to me is that, although totally old school, this place isn't afraid to tweak dishes and surprise diners.
All in all, we had a lovely, upscale feeling date night for around $70. That's my kind of stimulus dining!
2637 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305