850, Campania, Antico and Neapolitan pizza wars

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

No, this isn’t a review of 850. A good deal has already been written about Crabapple’s newest restaurant. Here are some general thoughts on our growing Neapolitan pizza war in the Alpharetta area.

850F Bar Pizza originally planned to open in west Midtown according to blogger Eli Zandman. They backed out of the space in favor of the former Erwoods location in Crabapple. It was a smart move. At that point in the summer of 2013 Alpharetta’s Campania was getting rave reviews. They were sure to draw a competitor.

Campania pizza

Tartufo at Campania

Next 850 pulled a major coup d’etat by stealing Campania’s pizzaiolo. Stefano Rea brings most of the familiar recipes with him to 850. This blogger’s favorite, the tartofu, is still around. Close your eyes and you’ll be hard pressed to taste a difference between the 850 version and that still on Campania’s menu – except that it’s a tad smaller and a few bucks cheaper at 850. But the explosive flavor combination of pancetta, garlic, rosemary and truffle oil is available in both restaurants.

What is different at 850 is the addition of calzones – deep fried calzones that is. It sounds gross but I assure these are amazing. They come out a beautiful golden brown color and not the least bit greasy. The frying gives the pizza bread an amazing texture. My calzone was stuffed with a spicy capicola. These may not be on the menu yet, but if you go, ask them about it.

But now this is starting to sound like a review.

Don’t count Campania out of the fight by any means. They were first to the market and have built a loyal following. Their staff and management are among the best and most friendly of any restaurant in town. That goes a long way. Campania’s biggest challenge from here on out will be staying creative with their menu after the loss of Stefano.

850′s got a better location in the heart of Crabapple. Their patio is awesome as is their beer selection. But the rent is expensive in these digs. The restaurant will have to fire on all cylinders to keep the bills paid. Campania’s management owns the real estate under the restaurant, something that could help if times get tough.

Nevertheless, I think there’s room in this market for both players. I personally will probably keep going to Campania over 850, mainly because city planners don’t want to make it easy for me to drive to Crabapple (but that’s another article).

850°F Barpizza on Urbanspoon

And then there’s Anitco. How will their opening at Avalon shape the Neapolitan pizza fight? We’ll have to see. I’m interested to see if they try to recreate the midtown vibe in Avalon. I don’t think they can do it, especially with the communal dining. I think suburban diners would rather opt for the friendly service at a traditional restaurant like Campania or 850. Again we’ll have to see.

19 Responses to “850, Campania, Antico and Neapolitan pizza wars”

  1. A April 4, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Have been to Campania about 6-7 times and just recently tried 850 for the first time. Not only is 850 a few bucks cheaper per pie, but I really thought their pizzas tasted better. A few days after trying 850, we went to Campania and so could do a fairly good comparison. I found Campania’s crust to be very soggy and difficult to cut through compared to 850. Crabapple isn’t nearly as convenient as Highway 9 for us, but we’ll make the trek to 850 again very soon and hope to take advantage of the patio now that the weather is warming up.

  2. Cool Papa Bell April 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Which part of deep fried calzones sounds gross?

  3. S Lee Guy April 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    My wife thought it sounded gross.

  4. Mala April 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    I also think there is room for both pizza places. I live near wills park and we toggle back and forth between businesses on Main Street and crabapple. We love the crabapple area on weekends and that you can find a new subdivision right next to a house with goats in the front yard.

    Avalon so far looks “bleh”. Just looks like a bunch of apartments. I remember developers saying the retail development near sweet apple elementary was going to be special and it’s just another typical strip mall.

  5. Scsa31274 April 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    Ha

  6. James Tudor April 9, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    It is problematic when your blog starts to become a love fest for a few. Campania is mediocre at best. I see your write ups and you continuously compare other restaurants to you favorites. Each restaurant is about individuality and its own personality. You are in my opinion losing credibility when you continuously bring up the same places in reviews over and over again. You also do not recognize that small restaurant owners invest a lot of time and money bringing their product to market. You continuously refer to Salt Factory as the old KFC. That is BS!!! They spent a lot of money taking an eyesore and converting it into something that is in my opinion a very pleasant experience.if you are going to promote yourself as the promoter of all things Alpharetta, then support all and not your favorites. Individuality will be what changes Alpharetta and allows us more creative and independent restaurants and business.

  7. S Lee Guy April 9, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Um, ok.

    Campania was the first Neapolitan style pizza joint here, so it should be natural to compare others to them. That should be especially true considering that 850 now has Campania’s old chef. I think it would be hard to write a review of 850 without a mention of Campania.

    I often mention the name of a former restaurant when a new one opens. I do so as a frame of reference for my readers. I seriously doubt anyone thinks I’m referring to Salt as KFC. And I love when someone gets creative with an old space. Tower Burger is doing an amazing job with the old Sonic location. By mentioning this am I inferring that Tower is really Sonic? My readers are not that dumb.

  8. Travis Allen April 9, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    I didn’t realize that Lee was promoting himself as the promoter of all things Alpharetta…

    He has written about numerous restaurants and happenings outside of Alpharetta as well.

    850 is in Milton, btw.

  9. Cool Papa Bell April 9, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    There is something funny about a guy who thinks Campania is “mediocre at best” then talks about somebody losing credibility.

    To not compare 850 to Campania would border on being derelict.

  10. Katie April 10, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Well I will weigh in here and say that I went to Campania when it first opened – it was bad! So bad I didn’t even take the leftovers, nothing like leftover BURNT pizza. That being said I will form my own opinions about the new restaurants opening and not go off what a blog says, even though I do enjoy reading it, and the monthly updates.

  11. Cool Papa Bell April 10, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Katie, um you do realize the pizza is not “BURNT.” It i called “char.” This is exactly what it is supposed to look like https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR7kIRHqlvaVqjOwT4R-jaV-xvxd84SNsRcJ4RujL8Hp-i8BZ6q6g

    Now was your’s really burnt? Perhaps. But a lot of the Pizza Hut crowd get overwhelmed by char and think it’s burnt when it made perfectly. But that’s how the pizza at 850 looks and is how it will look and taste at Antico.

  12. Katie April 11, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    I am not part of the “Pizza Hut” crowd. I know good food, and my opinion is that Campania in no way wowed me with their expensive prices for yes, burnt pizza.

  13. JP April 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    @Katie: Don’t mind his comments. He really is a condescending tool sometimes.

  14. Mala April 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    The pizza wars are funny considering this is Alpharetta and not Naples, New York, or even New Jersey. In a land where the restaurant choices are dominated by chick-fil-a, Waffle House and Taco Bell (which are chains I eat at myself, so no judgement here), we should applaud anyone attempting to take a major financial risk in opening something new in this area.

  15. Cool Papa Bell April 16, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    At the risk of offending the delicate sensitivities of JP’s aversion to candor, Mala where exactly are you referring to as, “In a land where the restaurant choices are dominated by chick-fil-a (sic), Waffle House and Taco Bell?”

    Perhaps if you live towards Cumming yes. But you could limit me to about an 8-mile radius of my house and I’d easily be able to eat at a different quality independently owned restaurant every day for at least two months without having to go to the same place twice.

    Yes, I do eat at WaHo once every two years or so and don’t hate it, but I would rather starve than eat at Taco Bell.

  16. Nick Manocchio April 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    My name is Nick Manocchio, co-owner of 850ºF Barpizza.

    I decided to respond to the article dated April 4, 2014, because of rumors and falsifications circulating about our restaurant.

    Yes, we did plan to open in West Midtown, but the City of Atlanta refused to give us the green light because we were short nine parking spaces. After that bad news we secured the location in Milton and the rest is history.

    I met Stefano Rea in 2011 when he was working at Cibo & Beve. Then I met him again at Campania when I was visiting as a diner. I never asked Stefano to join 850ºF and under no circumstances did we pull “a major coup d’etat by stealing Campania’s pizzaiolo”. In fact, Stefano approached us and again the rest is history.

    My business partner (Glenn Griffiths) and I are not “At War” with Campania, Antico, or anyone else.

    We are people of integrity. We understand the costs and effort it takes to operate in the restaurant business and our wish is for all our surrounding restauranteurs to prosper.

  17. Mala April 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Cool papa bell: I live in the heart of alpharetta right now and believe the restaurant scene here to be very young. I say this because I’ve been fortunate to live all over the world (France, Italy, Germany, New York, Boston, Toronto, etc). I’ve tried Taco Bell, chick-fil-a, Waffle House because my husband is from atlanta and his family and their friends love these chains and I respect that as their culture so I don’t judge. For me though, Nothing beats a bagel from Montreal (they are the best), American pizza is #1 in Providence Rhode Island at “al forno” where they cook their pie over hot coals, street crepes rock in Paris, and fish and chips served in newspaper is why I love London. I pretty much love all food and think it’s cool when people take a risk in a young culinary area like Alpharetta.

  18. Mala April 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Cool papa bell: jus to add, Salt (a great restaurant) is next to a Taco Bell and across from a Hardee’s and the ladder two are always packed. Chick-fil-a has 3 major locations (windward and 2 in northpoint) and are packed (despite the fact that one of the main ingredients in their chicken is msg), and there are 3 Waffle Houses within a 2 mile radius from my house (I live a stones throw from wills park), and there is always a line up for the all star breakfast. Just saying, people here love this stuff (nothing wrong with it). I made the statements I made about what dominates the restaurant scene by pure observation.

  19. Cool Papa Bell April 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Mala, well okay. I do like Salt, but of the 60-plus places I listed, if I put in order, they would rank 45ish. IMHO all of the places mentioned are at least, “above average.” Some are excellent. I edited this from a list I compiled for something else, so there is a chance of a repeat. But I would say all are within 7-8 miles of Salt/Wills environs. Okay 1*41 may be pushing it, but I included because it’s destination worthy and isn’t much more than 7-8 miles from Salt/Wills area.

    Noosh Kitchen, Grand Champion, ‘Cue, Osteria Mattone, Vin 25, Foundation Social Eatery, Hugo’s, Campania Pizzeria Napoletana, 850 Bar Pizza, Mambo’s Café, Joe’s New York Pizzeria, Table & Main, Hop Alley, 5 Seasons, Greenwood’s on Green Street, Plum Café, Coisas do Brasil, Famous Originals Pizza, Karachi Broast & Grill

    Sweet Tentations French Bakery, Douceur de France, Dominick’s, Collet French Pastry & Café, Bite, Fresh Lettuce, Roswell Provisions, Kozmo’s Gastropub, Adele’s Authentic Cajun Experience, Rosa Mia’s, Oak Street Café, Stax, Alpine Bakery and Pizzeria, Artisan Foods Bakery & Café, Elaina’s, Café 101, San Pancho, Leito’s Grill, Mr. Taco, El Trompo, Pure, Athens Greek Restaurant, Café Efendi, Crabapple Tavern, Sushi Uchi, Mojito’s Café, Wok & Chopstick, Rasa Sayang, Satay House, Emerald Thai, Wilflour Café, BB’s Bagels, Madras Chettinaad, Bombay Flames, Sitar, Olde Blind Dog, Carbernet, Trattoria 1*41, Little Alley Steaks, Jerusalem Bakery, Noca, Mac McGee’s, Salt, Sushi Mania, Sushi Nami, Akina, Sri Krishna Vilas, Nahm, Milton’s, Caribbean Fiesta, di Paolo, Aqua Blue, Thai House.

    I even left off some slightly above average places that don’t blow me away, but are way ahead of Taco Bell et al like Papoulis Mediterranean Cafe & Market, Brooklyn Bagels (sandwiches better than bagels), rebranded Allessio’s (many better options, but head and shoulders above the chains), Ceviche, Tara Humata, Etris, Lucky’s, Atlantic Seafood, Slate.

    Did I hit 70 yet?

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