Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, opened by the Cocentrics Restauant Group, is located in downtown Atlanta (next to Philip’s Arena, the Gerogia Dome and Aquarium). This would seem to make it ideal for pre-event dining, however, not so ideal if you’re trying to grab a bite without getting stuck in “pre-event” traffic. Parking can also be an issue, although the restaurant does offer a $5 parking discount for those who spend at least $20.
The menu includes both build your own and specialty pizzas, calzones, salads, sandwiches and pastas. Click here for the menu. They offer a Margherita topped with a house-made mozzarella and oven roasted tomatoes. The mozzarella is nothing like delicate mozzarella di bufala and it’s a bit too plentiful to maintain a good proportion of toppings to crust. Speaking of overabundance, the sauce is overwhelming, both in quantity and in flavor. The website touts the sauce as being a recipe of the Oltarsh (the pizzaiolo) family. It’s heavily spiked with dried herbs. The large chunks of oven dried tomatoes suffer the same fate. The crust has a nice flavor and thickness, but doesn’t have char on the outside or the chewiness on the inside that makes crust perfection. With the Margherita costing $18, this certainly is not the best pizza value in town, especially considering the lack of top-notch ingredients and the fee to park. Add in a couple glasses of wine and the bill becomes more than just a simple night out to grab some za.
The wine list is short and lacks imagination, although it seems more attention is paid to beers offered mainly on draft.
The atmosphere is comfortable and inviting, a sort of pizzeria meets high-end sports and beer joint. STATS is next door and owned by the same group. Exposed brick walls add warmth and character. Kids are welcome and seem to enjoy themselves.
Price: Build your own pizzas start at $15 before toppings are added. The Margherita is $18 for a 14″ pizza and $24 for and 18″ and includes their house-made mozzarella.
Type of fuel: Coal
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Pizza Lover Alert: Subscribe or come back, because new pizzerias seem to be opening all the time. (When is Piola going to finally open?) Each new authentically-styled spot will be featured and rated based on their version of traditional Pizza Margherita (with tomato, mozzarella- di bufala if available- and basil). Feel free to add a comment on your favorite pizzeria and/or your favorite toppings!
300 Marietta Street, NW 404-974-2941, click for directions
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Andrea Hospodar is now the Atlanta Italian Restaurant Examiner