Scalini’s Italian Restaurant is now closed after 42 years on Cobb Parkway in Smyrna. The restaurant served classic, old-school Italian dishes, but was probably best known for its eggplant parmesan, a dish said to help induce labor for mothers close to or past their due dates.
A statement posted to Scalini’s Facebook page indicates the restaurant closed following dinner service on Sunday, August 7. No official reason is provided for the closure, but replies by the restaurant to questions regarding its sudden closure suggest part of the decision may be due to a lack of employees.
The Facebook announcement currently includes more than 1,200 comments from people reminiscing about family get-togethers and celebrations there over the years and testimonies of the magical, labor-inducing powers of Scalini’s famous eggplant parmesan.
Opened in 1980 by John Bogino, Scalini’s became famous for the fabled eggplant parmesan and the claims it hastened labor for those who ate the dish during the latter days of their pregnancy. The lore surrounding Scalini’s eggplant parmesan eventually led the restaurant to compile a wall of photographs — affectionally known as the “Baby Eggplant Club” — filled with hundreds of pictures of infants supposedly born because their mothers had eaten the eggplant parmesan within hours or days of giving birth.
And while some commenters point to the fact that all seven locations of sister restaurant Provino’s feature the same buttery garlic rolls and eggplant parmesan on the menu, others say Scalini’s represents a special time in their lives which simply can’t be replaced or replicated.
Hearing tales of the legendary powers of the eggplant parmesan, Giving Kitchen co-founder Jen Hidinger-Kendrick hoped dining on the Scalini’s dish would help speed up the birth of her son 2.5 years ago.
“I had never been before. It was a fun experiment during pregnancy, and I wanted to try anything,” Hidinger-Kendrick recalls, who says the eggplant parmesan didn’t have the desired effect, but was still delicious. “Pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent is the greatest joy of my life, and the eggplant parmesan from Scalini’s was a beautiful experience in the grand scheme of it all.”
Atlanta barman Julian Goglia and his wife Julia both remember going on “fancy dates” to Scalini’s in high school and had heard rumors of the labor-inducing properties of the eggplant parmesan served on the menu. Right before Julia was set to give birth to their first child a few years ago, the Goglias headed to Scalini’s for dinner.
“When our first was close to being due, we grabbed an eggplant family meal that could’ve fed an army, [and] sure enough, our daughter was born two days later,” Julian Goglia says. “For our second daughter, same game plan [and] same result.”
Two weeks ago, the couple took Julia’s pregnant sister to Scalini’s for the eggplant parmesan. Julian wonders if she might have been the last expectant mother to indulge in the dish before Scalini’s closed this week. His sister-in-law gave birth just days later.
“Maybe it’s wolf magic. Maybe it’s simply sharing comforting staples with loved ones. I’m not sure, but I’ll miss being able to continue a several decades-old tradition of one last calm family meal before the storm,” he says of Scalini’s closure. Julian suspects others feel similarly about the loss of a dining ritual that became part of Atlanta restaurant industry folklore.
Scalini’s has yet to return Eater’s request for comment on the closure of the restaurant and the future status of the photographs from the Eggplant Baby Club wall.