Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Breaking News: JCT's Ford Fry & Floataway's Drew Bellline to Open No. 246 in May

As a food blogger, I receive quite a few press releases about everything from new menu items to restaurant openings. In that barrage of emails, it is rare that I get a press release that actually gets me excited. And not just a "oh that's interesting" excited. I'm talking serious salivating, "I need to tell someone about this right now" excited. And that's just what I felt when I received this little doozy from the gals at Melissa Libby.

JCT has long been one of my Atlanta favorites. Ford Fry's food never fails to impress, and it's one of the best places to bring a visitor who wants a uniquely Atlanta experience. Now he's teaming up with former Floataway (another favorite!) chef de cuisine Drew Belline to open No. 246, an Italian inspired locally sourced spot in Decatur.

I cannot even tell you how excited I am for something that is 1) from one of my favorite local chefs 2) is Italian and not Southern 3) comes complete with a bocce court. Alas we have to wait until May to check it out. But isn't it nice to have something to look forward to?

A Shared Passion for Locally Sourced Ingredients and Wood-Fired Cuisine
Brings Top Toques Together for New Neighborhood Restaurant

ATLANTA (March 15, 2011) Ford Fry, owner/executive chef of JCT. Kitchen &  Bar, and Chef Drew Belline, previously the chef de cuisine at Floataway Café, are partnering to open a new Italian-inspired, locally driven restaurant in Decatur in early May called no. 246 (twofoursix). 

The name no. 246 reflects the original name of the plot of land on which the restaurant sits, dating back to the early 1900s.  No. 246 will present guests with a dining experience that is influenced by seasonality and local products as well as the culinary techniques of Italy.

“Drew and I share a passion for locally sourced ingredients, simple preparations and wood-fired cooking and are both really excited to bring Italian-inspired dishes with Californian influences to Decatur,” says Fry.  “I think Decatur is the perfect neighborhood for us to create this cool yet comfortable dining establishment that we both envision,” he adds.   
Fry is currently the owner and executive chef of JCT Kitchen & Bar and is also the founder of one of Atlanta’s top food events, The JCT. Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival.  Belline is an Atlanta native who has worked at Charlie Palmer’s Kitchen 22 and Tom Colicchio’s Craft in New York as well as Quinones at Bacchanalia and Floataway Café in Atlanta.  As the executive chef/partner of no. 246, Belline has created a menu of Italian-inspired cuisine that is composed of local, farm fresh ingredients and utilizes simple wood-fired cooking techniques.
“Lately the culinary trends in the Southeast have been very meat-centric, but we’re trying to make the food at no. 246 more about vegetables and dishes that guests can eat every day,” says Belline. “The menu will be driven by what local producers have to offer.”

The dinner menu is broken down into the following components: start, flour & water, from the hearth and finish.  Dishes under start include crispy Fior di Latte cheese curd with San Marzano tomato and fried olives; charred octopus with smokey potatoes, pickled celery and chili-lemon vinaigrette; and garlicky tiny clams with toast and parsley.  The flour & water section of the menu offers items like tortelloni with Ken’s mushrooms; Meyer lemon and sheep’s milk ricotta agnolotti with parmesan; and Ramano pizza with San Marzano tomato, anchovy, tiny olives and Calabrian chiles.  All pasta dishes come in two different sizes.  From the hearth items range from bavette steak with Romanesco, spring onion and Delfina potatoes to crispy suckling pig with gratin and pork jus to a whole wood roasted fish of the moment.  To finish, dessert options include a chocolate tart with sea salt and EVOO; ricotta zeppoli with warm chocolate and sour cherry; and Meyer lemon pudding cake with crème fraîche. 

Lunch items include entrée salads and sandwiches such as crispy chicken paillard with rocket, Parmesan and lemon dressing; skirt steak involtino with salsa verde, little gem lettuces and bleu vinaigrette; tuna conserva with tiny olives, an herb salad and warm flatbread; yesterday’s porchetta sandwich with Fontina and Calabrian chile conserva; the no. 246 burger with Teleme and house pickles; and a BLT featuring Belline Farm’s tomato, Fior di Latte, backyard basil and prosciutto. 

The beverage program at no. 246 is directed by Lara Creasy and brings the traditional beverages of Italy to the diners of Decatur in a user friendly format.  The thoughtful and affordable wine list features selections that reflect all of Italy’s regions and styles, both traditional and modern.  California wines, especially those from house properties founded by Italian families or those that are traditional Italian varietals, are also a strong focus.  A revolving list of "house wines," featuring remarkable values for everyday drinking, will be available by the glass or half carafe.  An ample list of by-the-glass options at all price points will also be available.

The cocktail menu features numerous traditional Italian ingredients interpreted in new ways for a southern American audience. Vermouths, amaros, aperitivos and digestivos will be blended with local produce, seasonal fruits, Italian sodas and house made mixers to create signature cocktails for all palates.  The menu will focus on fun, approachable drinks to whet the appetite for Drew Belline's cuisine and the restaurant’s wine list.

Coffee will also be a priority at no. 246, with expertly pulled espresso drinks from a state-of-the-art La Marzocco espresso machine featuring beans from Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters.

Smith Hanes is designing the 100-seat space that features contrasting white and dark hues, reclaimed wood floors and Venetian stucco.  As guests enter the restaurant, there is a large waiting area with drink rails.  On the right side of the space is a long, black granite bar with 12 seats and a back bar built into the wall, giving the illusion that the liquor bottles are part of the wall itself and suspended in air.  The bar also holds an antique Berkel meat slicer from Italy as well as an espresso machine.  Banquettes line the other walls and zinc top tables with bistro chairs occupy the middle of the main dining area.  In the front of the restaurant, two big double hung windows open out to the sidewalk.

No. 246 features an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven in the back.  A special four-top “chef’s table” is located inside the kitchen where guests can put themselves and their taste buds in the hands of Chef Belline.

Another unique aspect of No. 246 is the restaurant’s backyard, which features an herb garden, shuffleboard court, and a deck built around a tree where live music will be played on Saturdays and Sundays.  This area is strung with lights and offers high top tables where guests can relax and enjoy the fresh air with friends as if they were in their own backyard at home.

No. 246 is located at 129 E Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur.  The restaurant will serve lunch Monday through Saturday and dinner nightly, but will not accept reservations.  For more information, visit



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