A twinge of guilt passed over me as I was walking in Storico Fresco in Buckhead last month. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw several fit and toned women contorting their bodies on treadmills, and here I was headed to stuff my face with pasta. But once I entered Storico Fresco and my eyes glimpsed the freshly made pasta, any guilt quickly faded.
What started out as a simple Italian market, has morphed into a full fledged restaurant, and we’re so glad they did. I’ve been several times and the restaurant is always buzzing. Though there are a couple tables outside, most prefer indoor seating at Storico Fresco, although the noise level is a bit high.
As you enter you’ll see a bevy of unique pastas, cheeses and unique meals ready to go in a display case that seems to go on forever. Pastas include items at Storico Frseco like spinach, chickpea and squid ink. Since the restaurant is as much Italian market as it is restaurant, don’t expect low lighting or upscale decor. But do expect exquisite meals and artful presentations.
I’d just come from a brewery, otherwise I would have loved to take advantage of a cocktail. By the way, did you know that Uber pool is available in Atlanta? From Decatur to Buckhead our ride was less than $4! We used it in Los Angeles and saved a ton of money during our stay.
Why aren’t Squash Blossoms available at more restaurants? These fried pieces of heaven are stuffed with mozzarella at Storico Fresco in Buckhead and we wolfed them down. Lucky for us that wasn’t the last time we’d encounter Squash Blossoms at our dinner. They popped up again in the Zucchini Carpaccio (pictured above). This dish also had a generous portion of ricotta, yellow tomatoes plus pepperoncino bits. Salads are free of creamy dressings, instead incorporating fragrant ingredients into the vinaigrettes like honey saba or the chive vinaigrette on the asparagus and speck salad.
Pastas average around $18 and while I couldn’t stop myself from eating the Lumachelle (short pasta) with Italian sausage and arugula, A Squid Ink wasn’t my favorite, but my brother loved it. It was certainly colorful, contrasting the black pasta and white calamari rounds with turnip greens. And Storico Fresco was quite generous with the calamari (see below).
If you don’t do meat or pasta, you’ll still find plenty on Storico Fresco’s menu. Sides like grilled asparagus (served with parmesan and balsamic) or the Rapini (broccoli rabe) with calabrian chili and smoked ricotta are just $6 each or make your own vegetable plate by choosing 3 for $15. I’d like to get back there and sample the cauliflower with red pepper and pine nuts.
There’s much more to Storico Fresco than just salads and pastas, though. Mains include pork, veal, duck, steak and the seafood trio pictured below. You can’t escape a bit of Italian in each dish though; the Pork rib served with polenta and a tomato ragu. A duck breast is served with pesto, and the steak – porcini rubbed. The seafood dish, Misto Mare e Ceci, features a crispy Red Snapper which has a perfectly flaky center. A huge scallop was large enough for three of us to share without anyone feeling that they were shorted a bite. What I wish you could see (and taste) is the unique chickpea puree the dish sits atop.
Desserts are all $7 and and oh so creative. No, you won’t find Tiramisu and Creme Brulee here. The Floating Island with a meringue and berries was the perfect light taste to cap off our meal. If you like figs, the Fichi with toasted walnuts and caramelized figs is a must. Oh and it also comes with vanilla gelato. By the way, getlato is available by itself for just $2 a scoop.
Disclosure: Chef Russell Hayes hosted me for dinner, but the opinions expressed are my own.