Dan and I planned a little friend/family gathering at Antico to celebrate my 2?th birthday.
Overall*, the night was really enjoyable. I couldn’t ask for better pizza — or better friends, for that matter. It was some friends’ first trip to the Naples-style pizza mecca.
Here are some photos from the evening.
A birthday gift to myself: a box of wine wrapped like a present. (Antico is BYOB)
Mega tasty cake from the Antico bakery (delicious, spongy layers of yellow cake — with a touch of lemon flavor — amidst layers of a tasty creamy/whipped frosting). This dessert was reminiscent of the “Tres Leces” cake from one of our favorite restaurants (Tierra). Mmmm. Cake was $32, I believe.
*The pizza drama:
About three weeks prior to my birthday, I called Antico to reserve the larger, wooden table back in the kitchen.
Flash forward to my birthday (Tuesday). The kitchen (where most of the seating is and where most of the eating takes place) was relatively quiet. Our party rolled in from about 7:15 to 7:45, until we eventually had about 22 people hanging around our table. After a few minutes of noshing on tasty margherita pies, an employee approached us to tell us that Giovanni di Palma (the owner) wanted to charge us a $50 upcharge for violating the “10 people maximum” rule. She went on to ask if we wanted to discuss it with Giovanni himself.
Seeing in that we hadn’t heard previously that only 10 people were allowed to come with our party, we did want to speak with the owner. Neither of us was looking to cause trouble; we merely wanted to sort through the miscommunication.
The same friendly employee came back a few minutes later, saying that Giovanni was sticking to his policy: he wanted to charge us a corking fee because he doesn’t accept private parties larger than 10 people.
A few minutes later, we found an audience with Mr. di Palma. He seemed a little agitated with us. I told him that when I called, the person on the phone did mention that the table seated 1o – but I said to that person on the phone something along the lines of “that’s fine. Our party will be bigger than that, but we don’t mind taking turns eating and standing.” (Also considering people are always standing around the tables in the crowded “dining room” – AND that my friends would all be ordering pizza, I hadn’t worried about the size of our group. Not to mention, it was a week night).
We went on to say that the corking fee wasn’t too much ($3 to $4/person to BYOB isn’t a bad deal) – it was the fact that this fee and the group size limitations hadn’t been previously disclosed to us that was the problem. Giovanni then told us that it’s his fiance who’s the business manager, and that she ALWAYS tells people very directly and clearly that the table seating is limited.
Giovanni was firm in his belief that we had been explicity told that we could have 10 people max. I responded saying, “I know you don’t know me, but it is not in my nature to take what someone tells me and totally disrespect and ignore it. If I would have been told that it was important to have only 10 people, we would have only brought 10 people.”
If you’re curious about his reasoning (maybe you’re asking why he would turn down big private parties), it’s because Giovanni wants the kitchen dining room to be an experience for all who enter. If someone drives from Flowery Branch or LaGrange for an Antico pizza, they would be smothered by a private party such as ours. Like we told him that night, that’s all fine and well – but we hadn’t been told that previously. Giovanni said he turns down large private parties all the time in lieu of letting people have a nice, intimate dining experience. He said it’s not about making money.
We later heard that this isn’t the first time this very same misunderstanding has occurred. Also, we heard that he had never before instituted a corking fee on a week night.
In the end, we chalked it up to a miscommunication and called a truce. He didn’t make us pay the fee (not that it mattered). Our only wish is that others don’t encounter this same miscommunication. After the 15 minutes of slight drama subsided, it still end up being a great night with much fun had by all. I’m curious though; if we had not made a reservation and just rolled in there 22-large, would we have been kicked out?