Atlanta: Egg-and-Truffle Pizza at Caffe Fortunato
255 Village Parkway, Suite 330, Marietta, GA 30067 (map); 770-951-1394
Pizza type: Neapolitan
Oven type: Gas
The Skinny: Neighborhood joint does upscale Italian and one of the fancier pies in town
Price: Uova e Tartufi, $25; Margherita, $12
It's nice when an out of the way neighborhood place gets some widespread recognition. Shortly after Caffe Fortunato opened in late 2010, the East Cobb locals quickly warmed to its upscale-but-not-fancy Italian vibe and its charming setting along the water's edge of a downright romantic office park pond. But when a regional rag named its Uova e Tartufi one of Atlanta's Top 10 Dishes of the year, the Marietta restaurant suddenly became something of a destination, talked about (for a time, anyway) as "that place with the egg and truffle pizza."
Some of the buzz over that pie seems to have died down (perhaps since plenty of places offer a version of it now; what does THAT say about the proliferation of gourmet pizza?), but Caffe Fortunato still trumpets the honor on their menu. The UeT is one of just five pies offered (six, really... more on that later) and far and away the priciest at $25. It's an indulgence, a luxury, a bucket-list kind of dish that you order mainly to be able to say that you have.
Fortunato's homemade dough is topped with (also house-made) San Marzano sauce, mozzarella, basil, and EVOO... then further graced with two farm-fresh eggs and shaved black truffle. It's the kind of pizza that everyone just stares at for a moment when it hits the table—some breathing in the earthy aroma of the truffles, some taking in the artful visuals of the sunny-side-up eggs, some just trying to figure out how to cut the damn thing with butter knives.
The other pies come sliced; when I asked our server if the Uova is served whole to allow the customer to puncture the yolks, he looked at that pizza in utter bewilderment. This was clearly the first time he had ever noticed that not-inconsequential detail. He rushed off and later confirmed my theory... but still didn't offer anything in the way of a more effective cutting instrument.
The pies at Caffe Fortunato are cooked in a gas-fueled Wood Stone with an attractive facade of glass mosaic tiles. They kept the temp pegged at 510°F from what I could see, resulting in a golden-hued base that showed no true char the way Slice'rs generally think of it. The thin crust doesn't have a strong taste—it's not overly yeasty or doughy or sour or tangy... or anything. It's not crackly-crisp... but not spongy and bready. That's not to say I didn't like it... but it didn't make much of an impression, either. It's simply one of the more completely neutral pizza crusts I've had in a while. And sometimes, neutral is fine, as it lets the toppings shine a bit more.
As for the Uova e Tartufi's toppings, your enjoyment will depend largely on your personal feelings toward truffles. Myself, I don't see what all the fuss is about. (There, I said it. Revoke my food nerd card.) I can certainly appreciate the labor-intensive nature of such an ingredient, but the taste underwhelmed here. I'm not convinced that thinly-sliced portobellos on this pie wouldn't pass a blind taste test at $10 less.
I had heard that the staff shaves the truffles onto your pizza tableside, further adding to the whole upper-crust pomp and circumstance, but it didn't happen... and wouldn't have changed my mind much anyway. I know I'm supposed to ooh and aah over shaved black truffles... but I wouldn't have missed them if they hadn't been there.
The silky yolk of the eggs, however, added a richness that I did notice and liked immensely. Eggs on pizza may currently be trendy to the point of eye-rolling, meaning the backlash will begin any day now (if it hasn't already), but this is one topping I'll be doing more often.
Take away the eggs and truffles and you have Caffe Fortunato's Margherita. At $12, it's the kind of pizza I'd happily order again. Nothing fancy here, but wonderfully gooey mozz and large basil leaves crown a cheese pizza that was the first to disappear from my table (and in very short order).
The pies are not huge, and not as filling as you might hope. Our table of four put away every scrap of both of these pizzas without trying. Admittedly, the goal was not to overstuff ourselves, but I found myself wondering if some of the other entrees on the menu would be more satisfying. As a result, I looked at that dessert menu a long time, even considering Caffe Fortunato's dessert pizza, a concoction described as "Nutella served with banana strawberry compote and marshmallows." On the same crust? Our waiter wasn't sure... but suggested that "it's maybe a little sweeter." Next time, perhaps.
Some reviews have dinged the place on service, and I must admit, our server earned more points for pleasantness than he did knowledge. And just a word on the music playlist. That's the kind of thing that I rarely take note of unless it's awesome or terrible... or just plain odd. You be the judge: Mambo Italiano by Rosemary Clooney to Thriller by Michael Jackson in the span of three songs.
Overall, I liked Caffe Fortunato a lot more than I loved their pizzas. I bought in immediately to the neighborhood feel, and can see taking my wife back on a future date night. But I'll probably order the filet mignon lollipops, the lobster ravioli, or the Sunday Gravy... and I'll be sitting outside by the water instead of by the bar with the King of Pop.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.