There wasn't enough good Italian cuisine in Atlanta for Taverna Fiorentina Chef/Owner Paolo Tondo, so he decide to open a second restaurant; this one focused on the regional cuisine of Puglia, a coastal region packed with olive trees in southeastern Italy. (Taverna focuses on Tuscan cuisine.) Enter Mezza Luna, opening later this month in Smyrna.
According to Tondo, the Puglian cuisine emphasizes seafood and pasta, using "fresh, simple ingredients, flavorful olive oils, fresh fish, shellfish, great breads and inexpensive but full bodied wines." The food at Mezza Luna will do the same.
There will be linguini alla posilipo (clams in marinara), oriechette with brocolini and anchovies, shrimp carbonara, Parmigiana encrusted tilapia, and grilled octopus. "My grandmother Chiarina was a teacher and a great cook. I want to use her recipes," Tondo says.
Offering lunch and dinner, Mezza Luna will feature an Italian wine list compiled by Jasmin Reyes Scott, also of Taverna Fiorentina, with an emphasis on "affordable" Puglian wines like Salice Salentino and Primitivo. There will be beer imports from Italy, Europe and local craft breweries. Tondo says he hopes to acquire a full liquor license by 2013.
Mezza Luna will be designed to have the casual feel of seaside restaurants with dark walls, iron chandeliers, sconces, low ambient lighting, dark wood tables and grey tile floors. You won't find white tablecloths here (or any tablecloths for that matter).