Forza Storico, the Roman Italian restaurant from Pietro Gianni, chef Michael Patrick, and Stephen Peterson of Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante, drifts easily between the bar-like setting of an osteria and the casual dining experienced at a neighborhood trattoria. It’s meant to, by design.
Taking over the space once occupied by Anne Quatrano’s Little Bacch and beneath Redbird in the former Bacchanalia, Forza channels the tucked away cafes and bars along the side streets and alleyways of Rome. This includes the ancient city’s graffiti in cheeky murals such as the “super Pope” and “tic tac toe Pope” and bringing in the colors of the Vatican throughout the dining room and bar.
The restaurant lies just off the central green space across from JCT Kitchen and overlooks the train tracks which divide Westside Provisions District. People are greeted at the door with a hand-painted scrolling, “When in Rome.”
Appointed with simple chairs and tables in the dining room, Forza’s 32-seat bar and lounge beyond are the buzzy central hub of the restaurant, where people gather for happy hour drinks after work or a quick bite with friends.
“We had originally envisioned Forza as a Roman beer and wine bar with a fry shop,” Patrick says. “Fried food is a big part of Roman culture, and the beer movement in Italy is really taking off now. But then we started adding more pastas to the menu.”
The partners are drawn to and thrive within these below street-level spaces. Patrick began his pasta making endeavors out of the basement of his home before moving to a commissary kitchen, also located within a basement space, and finally opening Storico beneath a nondescript retail strip along Grandview Avenue in Buckhead.
“We seem to be basement dwellers. We like that vibe. You know, kind of hidden away, but not too hidden that you can’t find us,” explains Patrick.
The patio also includes its own tucked away corners and hidden spaces.
A second, more informal patio located beyond Forza’s bar and lounge overlooks the tracks and offers both rail seating and a scattering of cocktail tables.
Patrick describes the menu at Forza as “95 percent Roman.” The city’s food centers around the core ingredients of butter, black pepper, bitter greens, and the sharp and funky pecorino cheese.
Classic pastas such carbonaras, amatricianas, and cacio e pepe accompany fried foods like artichokes and squash blossoms and larger courses of slow cooked meats in the quail and braised oxtail on the menu.
Forza’s menu offers other Roman touches like daily specials, including a rotating selection of gnnochi on Thursdays, antipasti platters, and a pan seared whole sea bream tossed in fennel and olive oil.
Beverage director Jose Pereiro created a purely Italian cocktail, aperitivo, and digestivo menu for Forza. The Negroni and Americano are both on tap, contained in and poured from a formidable looking red bull’s head at the bar.
“We wanted to find a lot of Italian beers to serve here at Forza and started sampling about nine months ago to come up with the final list for the menu,” Patrick says.
There are approximately 35 Italian beers on the menu, some less familiar and in large format bottles, others more recognizable like Peroni.
Forza’s wine list consists of nearly 60 Italian reds, whites, and sparklings from around Campania, Puglia, Sicily, and Umbria in central and southern Italy.
The restaurant plans to open for dinner only during its first few weeks. Lunch is expected to begin early next year. The bar at Forza opens for happy hour at 4 p.m., with dinner following at 5 p.m.
Open Tuesday - Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Kitchen opens for food at 5 p.m.
1198 Howell Mill Road Suite 020, Atlanta. forzastorico.com.