LPC: La Pietra Cucina in Atlanta

Staff Writer

The location of LPC or in long form--La Pietra Cucina, is one of those tucked away gems on Atlanta's main drag, also known as Peachtree.

Contrary to the thoughts of many, there really aren't a whole lot of streets named Peachtree in Atlanta. For a matter of a mile or so on the cusp of downtown and midtown Atlanta, there's a Peachtree West, on the other side of which there is Peachtree. Peachtree begins on the southern end of Atlanta, which is downtown. The two way street then travels northbound through the entire city under the name of Peachtree Street, Peachtree Road and maybe one or two more name before it eventually heads into the suburbs of Atlanta where it becomes Peachtree Industrial Road. But in actuality, there is but one Peachtree. 

Up the cobblestone drive to the valet attendant, then downstairs into a warm cozy environment where you're welcome to come as you are: whether casual, or theater bound for the one across the hall, or several others down the street.

Inside, the go-to guy is Russell Kook, a man from the midwest who has definitely put his time in the business. Oh, and be forewarned, the man can cook, which makes it easy to understand how on season eight of Hell's Kitchen, he was awarded a perfect score---something that seems practically forbidden by those notorious chef-divas who sit back and judge other chefs on TV as a sign that they've long ago arrived!

The dinner menu in the stone kitchen included nothing but great stuff, whether you came for Italian food or southern comfort on a winter night.

Take for example the $12 Fritto Misto of fall vegetables, white fish, calamari and rock shrimp: Fried to a light crunch and big crisp in fresh oil (because they didn't taste fried) and served with a chili aioli---would satisfy palate of  both the southerner and the Italian. Within the same category of Spuntini or light bites/appetizers, a chunky fresh $7 Bruschetta, a $12 Proscuiutto Flatbread and Todd's $11 Meatballs of veal with polenta, pecorino and peppadews are a few of the options. But what you want to do is listen to the waiter as he/she calls off the daily flatbread. If you're lucky, you may come across something like a bacon, goat cheese and shallots flatbread for an immersion of flavors that will carry you off a mental vision of heavenly pastures.

Speaking of immersions, Kook really can cook, as was never more evident than with the taste of his $15 Pan Fried  Octopus from the Antipasti section of the menu. Tender octopus with giant white beans and grilled frisee, combined with angry arrabbiata sauce (angry due to the heat of the chili peppers from which its made), is then further rounded out by pickled pearl onions. The mastery behind the creation of such a harmonious combination is just amazing. In fact, if for nothing else, go there for this dish!

Speaking of comfort, "Kook Can Cook" also does a $25 Braised Short Rib dish. Tender enough to never use a knife, with lots of flavor (unlike some chefs who apparently boil the meat so that is lacks flavors until they pour a sauce over it). The deboned hunk of meat is served in a puddle of polenta, onions and a pinenut gremolata--a fancy word for a chopped herb (or in this case, pinenut) condiment. The richness of this dish is sure to comfort on the coldest of winter nights!

All in all, Kook is blessed with the audacious artistry that lies deep within the soul of someone with a passion not only for cooking, but for cooking extraordinarily good food.

5 Bites in Atlanta