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Grana Atlanta

MEATBALL HEAVEN. PERIOD.

Article by Liz Attaway

Photography by Liz + John Attaway

On the busy corner in Piedmont Heights, Grana’s newly built restaurant is a shrine to the almighty meatball—and all things Italian. Herringbone floors, two large Neapolitan pizza ovens, sweeping lights and impeccable décor, Grana has an impressively upscale dining room that pays homage to the chef’s Italian heritage. It’s a stunner. Heading up to the beach vibe rooftop bar and patio, you’re greeted with the neon sign that reminds you that this place will be known for its balls—meatballs that is. Mark our words, the best meatballs in Atlanta. Beyond this, sinful appetizers, an array of unique pizza, fantastic pasta, summer sippers and impeccable main dishes make up the fabric of the best new Italian restaurant in Atlanta. That’s amore. Let’s dig in.

We get it: dreaming of the perfect meatball was never in our realm of reality either. But here we are awestruck by the master meatball-teer. We opted for the meatball flight, which included Mommy’s, Nonna’s, Crisp Veal, Pork, Grana and Brasstown Beef. All practically perfect in their own way, but our standout was the best meatball ever, Crispy Veal. Imagine biting into a crisp, crunchy shell and coming upon tender and mild veal, perfectly seasoned with a blend of spices, and topped with a dollop of spicy aioli. It has everything you’d want in a meatball: meaty, spicy, sweet, crunchy, earthy. Perfection if you ask us. Perusing the rest of the meatball wonders, we also really enjoyed the Brasstown Beef that boasts hearty and tender beef topped with immaculate black truffle jam (!) and gouda that rounds out the bite, bringing in a little earth and a little creaminess. All the flavors on this one! Break up the meatball and mix in the truffle topping. WOW! As for the Pork with the whipped ricotta, it was also delicious, with a very mellow pork ball and the creaminess and earthiness of the ricotta cheese. Meaty and creamy. Nonna’s mixes the right amount of meatball with mustard seed for tart and a slight pop in the mouth. Then, on top of that, the currants are sweet and tart. Cut the meatball up and mix in the toppings—yum! What feels like the original, just plain good Mommy’s that reminds you of something your grandma would make, perfect meatball, sauce, earthy basil. BAM! Finally, The Grana is a simple yet delicious meatball that is a good mix of sage and meat, perfectly balanced. Be honest, if you could have just one, which would it be?

Now that we’ve gotten you good and hungry, our Italian journey continues on the vendura and pasta. Something we would never think of getting was the wood-roasted peppers. Pat sent them up for us to try, and boy, what a treat. Slightly spicy of the pepper to the creamy of the whipped ricotta to the sweetness of the honey—mix it all up and you get a great all-around flavor! The most delightful surprise of the night was the Roasted Corn Vendura. Immaculately plated standing up with the stalks in the air, the corn is surrounded by a moat of lemon aioli, peppers and Calabrian oils. It was visually and tastefully stunning. The crunchiness of the corn, the creaminess of the aioli and then comes the spice on the back end to kick you in the teeth. We’re in love with this dish because it gives you a little bit of everything and it’s so unique! After breathing a little fire, our pappardelle pasta arrived. Oh. My. Goodness. Ragu is our love language. This pappardelle pasta, which is thick and hearty, is perfectly cooked and fresh topped with rich pork ragu and sprinkled with hard mozzarella cheese. So meaty and rich, the ragu is the perfect combination with the heartiness and heft of the pasta, plus the right amount of spices. Top with that perfect amount of cheese and you’ve got a dynamite pasta that we will have to come back for seconds to get! 

Next stop, pizza. We sampled the Roni, which was a mix of fresh cheese, crisp crust, pepperoni, honey and Calabrian chili combined inside curled up pepperoni. An ever-changing collaboration of flavors that seep together to make one of the most unique flavored pizzas we’ve ever had! Tip: Savor the middle. All of the pepperoni goodness, honey and chili all come together there. It’s the best bite. We’d like to mention that John really enjoyed the Roni. He said at one point that he couldn’t get over how good the pepperoni, honey and cheese combination was and never would have thought he would love it so much.

Just when you think you can’t get a better meal, in comes the Wood Roasted Chicken. Having the Porchetta (WOWZER!) at the preview, we figured since our waitress recommended it, we’d give it a whirl. Good. Choice. Tender and fall-off-the-bone roasted chicken in a blend of spices and mixed with peppers and surrounded by the sweet and spicy rosemary lemon sauce that elevates the chicken. The best part was the fattier chicken thighs paired so well with the spiciness of the sauce and the peppers. If you have any leftovers, make a quick panini or sandwich with it the next day. Delicimo! 

Full to the brim, now, while we sat on the patio and the rainstorm rolled in, we sipped on several cocktails, like the Lemonada, which was Liz’s favorite! It’s just a gin slushie with lemon Pellegrino! It’s simply refreshing and perfect for a hot day. The frozen cocktail changes every so often, so you might go and get an Aperol Spritz slushie or even a Frozé. Our favorite shaken cocktail was the Amalfly Coasting that is the right mix of Pellegrino pompelmo, gin and Peychaud’s. It’s sippable heaven.

That evening as we left, a lone beam of light shined under the clouds. A glimpse of the sunset could be seen from the rooftop, and we stopped to take it in. The perfect ending to a wonderful meal. It just proved to us that meatball heaven does exist. 

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