When frozen yogurt spot Yogurtland closed at the West Paces Ferry Shopping Center in Buckhead last year, Antico pizza owner Giovanni Di Palma says he jumped at the chance to snatch up the space to open Pala, an Italian bakery and gelateria serving paninis, pane alla Romana, and desserts.
With a plan to open February 14, Pala marks Di Palma’s first food endeavor with his son Johnny. Regulars to the pizzeria in Home Park are likely familiar with the comic strip above the ordering station at Antico depicting an image of the younger Di Palma’s face. For Di Palma, opening Pala with his son allows the college student a place to operate and learn the restaurant business.
Translating to “peel” or “shovel” in Italian, walking into Pala feels bespoke and cozy. The pizza peel the father and son first used together at Antico hangs above the counter there. Fashioned after bakeries like Antico Forno Roscioli found throughout Rome, the Di Palmas imported a large Castelli oven from Italy, similar to the one Roman pizza maker Bonci uses to make its famous flatbreads
In Rome, bakeries are where people purchase cooked chickens, cannolis, gelato, and slices of pane alla Romana — long, focaccia-like pies topped with a variety of ingredients.
“Pala is the pure definition of an old Italian bakery that was the initial vision of Antico, which took on a mind of its own,” says Di Palma. “Old bakeries in Italy serve the Roman version of thin, crispy focaccia or ‘pane Romana.’ It’s an ancient Roman process where the dough takes 72 hours.”
Pala serves its pane alla Romana three ways: taglio (cut of about two slices); pinsa (like a pizzetta for one); and alla Pala (long pizza serving four to six people available for online ordering and takeout only.) Look for specialty squares at the bakery, like bianco with wild mushroom and truffle cream, smoked salmon and rosciola (Italian olives), and pesto Genovese.
In addition to the flatbreads, Pala will also offer ciabatta paninis, including meatball parmesan, caprese, and prosciutto and fior di latte (cow’s milk cheese), as well as fried treats like fior di zucchini and cod fritters served in paper cones with a sauce.
Dessert is one of the cornerstones of Pala, where people can expect cannolis, tiramisu, and fresh-baked panettone and cornetti on the menu daily. The Di Palmas plan to serve gelato in flavors such as white pistachio, Pappy and praline, olive oil and sea salt, and nocciola doppio (chocolate hazelnut) paired with Italian coffee. There’s affogato using Illy espresso, too.
Di Palma says Pala will open with limited hours in the beginning. Additional days and hours are expected in the coming weeks as the shop ramps up service.
This isn’t the only project Di Palma is working on right now. Antico Sporto, a petite version of his popular Home Park pizzeria, opens this year at Hugh Howell Marketplace in Tucker serving a scaled-down version of the original restaurant’s menu.
Since opening Antico over a decade ago, the Antico brand has expanded along Hemphill Avenue in Home Park to include Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, gelato shop Caffe Antico, and Bar Amalfi. Locations of Antico are now open in Alpharetta at Avalon and at Battery Atlanta in Cobb County.
1264 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. palabakery.com. Online ordering available. Curbside pick up.