Way back in September 2014, George DeMeglio revealed plans to open a restaurant at Old Fourth Ward’s “Lantern House,” where the glowing vessels for the BeltLine’s Lantern Parade have been produced. The initial timeline called for a debut in fall 2015, but that deadline sailed by. Now, two-and-a-half years after his first announcement, DeMeglio is close to opening A Mano at 589 Ralph McGill Boulevard.
“We are in a BeltLine Overlay District, so it just makes all the variances and approvals and all that, that much more complicated,” DeMeglio says of the long delay. But, renovations to the space are making progress, and he hopes to acquire a certificate of occupancy next week. If all goes according to schedule, the restaurant will come online in late May.
When he announced in 2014, DeMeglio intended to call his restaurant “Il Gusto.” However, with the opening of fast-casual eatery Gusto nearby on Ponce de Leon Avenue in July 2016, the restaurateur decided a new moniker was needed. “A Mano” translates to “by hand” in Italian, and when combined into one word the meaning becomes “they love.”
Chandler Cottingham is on board as executive chef. Cottingham spent five-and-a-half years at Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna, and more recently he’s worked in the kitchens at Venkman’s in Old Fourth Ward and Hampton + Hudson in Inman Park. He’s also served a stage under chef Bruce Logue at lauded Inman Park pasta house BoccaLupo. Cottingham will use the latter experience to influence A Mano’s offerings, which will include fresh pasta. He plans to source from farms local like Woodland Gardens and Love Is Love and Atlanta’s many farmers markets.
“We are going to have some very traditional, classic approaches to Italian cooking as far as the pasta is concerned, since we are doing all the pasta in house,” the chef says. “We will have a protein section and an antipasto section that will be some modern interpretations of Italian cooking. You will see a little bit of Southern influence, Southern ingredient influence, mixed with some traditional Italian cooking and Old World techniques.”
Tiffany Howell, currently at the W Atlanta Downtown hotel, is in charge of the beverage program. A Mano will offer four house wines, one Prosecco, and nine beers — focusing on local — on tap. Cocktails will be simple staples, and the wine list will cover 30 bottles, about half of which will be Italian.
Design of the space is meant to be “simple, timeless, maybe a little bit industrial rustic feel,” according to DeMeglio, who has done much of the renovation himself. Materials include brick, stucco, and reclaimed wood from the original house.
A Mano will initially open for dinner only, with brunch and lunch in the cards for a later date. With so many restaurants popping up in one of Atlanta’s hottest zip codes, DeMeglio hopes his venture will become a quality, but reasonable, neighborhood destination.
“You know, have a glass of wine, pasta, and a veg for $25, and leave there content,” he says. “I wanted to do something that was community-focused, and there really is a huge space between Eats and BoccaLupo. Those, for what they do, are two amazing restaurants, but there’s a lot of room in between there to be a good neighborhood restaurant that offers really spectacular food at a value-oriented price.”
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