something magical happened last month; we’re still pinching ourselves. this is the story of how it happened:
last summer ryan + i enjoyed planning a dinner date together. out of all the restaurant choices in + around atlanta, we chose the white bull, located in downtown decatur.
we had quickly decided that our night was going to be spent at one of two locales associated with chef pat pascarella, white bull or bastone. we chose the white bull mostly for ambiance, but also for menu. mc had seen featured happy hours on the gravel patio in 2020 all with italian flair, from caprese salads to aperol spritz + beyond. since honeymooning in italy in 2012, we constantly have been seeking authentic italian wherever we go. this group is all about farm to table + house made pastas…so, we’re in!
although we didn’t get to experience the patio this first trip (we’ll be back), the menu that night surpassed our expectations. we walked away amazed by the meal we had start to finish, not to mention the inspiration drawn from ernest hemingway. a glimpse here:
ditalini • crab crema • sherry • tobiko • crumbs • lemon / view post on instagram
goat cheese occhi • lemon • poppy seed • pecorino • arugula / view post on instagram
after leaving, we quickly learned more about the porchetta group + the following day saw an over the top brunch they hosted, complete with massive polenta bar served down the middle of a long community table + had our minds blown by the amazing things this group was up to. there’s a sense of a collective passion for good food + they bring the fun to every part of the dining experience. i still remember the feeling of not wanting to leave after wrapping our meal up with a sublime pairing of panna cotta with an amaretto whiskey. as we walked down the street back to our car, we knew right away, we’d be making plans to visit each of the sister restaurants around the city. as a girl from the carolina lowcountry, i was especially looking forward to their oyster bar opening soon, alici.
when it comes to dates, ryan + i are pretty great about finding time to create a special moment when it’s called for. while we feel we have the weekly sushi nights, home cooked white tablecloth valentine dinners by the fire, occasional day dates + getting to work side x side rituals all down pat, we are still very much getting the hang of finding a babysitter + going out for a nice dinner from time to time. so it had been a few months + we were overdue for another dinner date. we asked our go-to high school sitter for availability in december. she told us she had one night free: december 10. we decided in jest, this would serve as our “company christmas party”–pencil + ink, party of two. so we slated a date night on the 4th + then, THE VERY NEXT DAY– received an invitation from chef pat to come have dinner with friends + family at the newly-established-not-yet-opened alici oyster bar. huzzah!!
december 10 came + we could not have been anticipating a dinner more. upon walking through the front doors, lemon-dotted tiles sit atop a brick arched opening to the kitchen + a rustic table in front of the serving line sets a warm-welcoming tone. adjacent to the kitchen an ocean blue oyster bar reaches out into the seating area like a wave leading the eye + her guests over to a stacked stone wall, all creating the setting of a sea side osteria along the mediterranean coast.
if we got a sense of authenticity at the white bull, alici was even more so genuine + singularly focused on bringing italy a la liguria (one leg of our honeymoon trip) to atlanta. our three course meal felt like a dream. we started with fantastic drinks, limoncello/prosecco spritzer + an oyster stout. next came a traditional italian bread, socca. this dish is served brilliantly with rotating fresh toppings. next came the crudo dish, snapper served with fennel a tangy cream sauce + topped off with the restaurant’s namesake, a perfectly fried anchovy…belíssima!!! we were off to a great start + continued to be wowed by each consecutive thing we tasted. how could food be this good + would other food ever be the same again!? i am still in search of these answers. a round of oysters on the half shell are of course what drew us in from the start, followed by homemade gnocchi + tilefish pan fried to perfection. all phenomenally fresh + expertly cooked + presented, we felt we could practically hear the sounds of crashing waves just beyond our table–ahhh, it’s nice to find a place where daydreams feel like reality, no?
we can’t wait to go back to this enchanting escape of a restaurant + we wish a great first year to the staff, chefs + patrons! it was a delightful evening in the dining room that was filled with excited restauranteurs, family + friends. the feeling in the room was not one i will soon forget + once again we didn’t want to leave. oh + did it end, with a grande finale of desserts baked to perfection by chef pat’s talented pastry chef + wife, megan (@ilike_thatcake): almond ricotta torte, lemon pignoli cookies + the best biscotti i have ever tasted! these sweets were the exclamation point on a perfect meal + left us feeling like we were dining at the pascarella’s house that night. cannot say it enough, how much we’re already anticipating another meal like this one.
salute to this group who is not only feeding the people suburbly fresh, exciting dishes, but also a storm of creativity enough to go around. mile graze to everyone who made alici happen… when the chef invites you to join, you show up + eat everything in sight!!