Pat Pascarella, the chef behind Italian restaurants the White Bull in Decatur and Grana in Piedmont Heights, plans to open oyster and seafood bar Alici (Italian for anchovies) at Midtown Promenade next summer. Alici takes over the former Frogs Cantina, which closed at the Monroe Drive complex last December.
With a design and menu influenced by Italy’s Amalfi coast, expect a variety of oysters and other seafood dishes, Pascarella’s pastas and risottos, wood-fired vegetables, and socca or farinata (a gluten-free chickpea pancake) served here. The latter comes with accompaniments like stracciatella, pistachios, and figs. Look for sparking wines, light reds, and seafood-friendly white wines from the bar, along with cocktails.
Design plans call for a coastal feel, taking inspiration from the restaurants and views found throughout the Amalfi coast, with 110 seats between the dining room, oyster bar, and back patio. Like Grana, the open kitchen with its wood-fire oven takes centerstage at Alici.
“I’ve always wanted a restaurant on the Beltline and I think a lot of the other areas of the Beltline are overcrowded with restaurants, so we wanted to be somewhere kind of secluded,” Pascarella tells Eater in an email. “With the new redevelopment of the Midtown Promenade complex, we realized we’d be a great fit for the location.”
In 2019, Charlotte-based Asana Partners acquired Midtown Promenade, home to Midtown Art Cinema, Trader Joe’s, the Highlander, MetroFresh, Desi Spice Indian Cuisine, and Apres Diem. Asana also owns Krog Street Market and the Atlanta Stove Works as well as the Plaza Theatre complex along Ponce de Leon Avenue, where chef Joey Ward’s restaurants Southern Belle and Georgia Boy reside. All three retail properties are undergoing renovations to include new tenants over the coming year.
Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen closed after six years serving classic and traditional Taiwanese dishes at Midtown Promenade last December. Days later, popular Tex-Mex restaurant Frogs Cantina closed next door to MetroFresh after 15 years at the Monroe Drive complex. Owners of both restaurants cited the financial fallout stemming from the pandemic at the time of the closures. But rumors persist that recent rent hikes at Midtown Promenade spurred on by its prime location and proximity to the Eastside Beltline trail may have been a deciding factor.
Pascarella opened the White Bull in 2018 near Decatur Square, serving handmade pastas and other Italian dishes using vegetables and meats from local and Georgia farms. Days before the pandemic-related statewide shutdown began in 2020, Pascarella opened Neapolitan pizza and Italian restaurant Grana on Piedmont Avenue. The restaurant features a rooftop patio. During the height of the pandemic, the chef added a backyard patio to the White Bull and expanded its retail space in front of the dining room selling the restaurant’s pastas and sauces.
Earlier this summer, Pascarella announced plans to open mozzarella bar Bastone in the former Bocado space on the corner of Howell Mill Road and 8th Street. Bocado closed in March after 12 years there. Pascarella hopes to open Bastone by February 2022, with chef Alex Bolduc leading the kitchen.
931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta.