Atlanta, as much as it has a burgeoning food scene, has not had a great track record with pizza. So it blew my mind when I discovered O4W Pizza a few years ago, another amazing restaurant on the Atlanta BeltLine. Their Grandma pizza was unlike anything I had ever eaten, even in the Italian neighborhoods of Boston, Providence and New York. O4W Pizza sadly moved to the suburbs, and that was the end for me.
Until the owner, Anthony Spina, teamed up with restaurateur Billy Streck and opened Nina & Rafi on the Atlanta BeltLine. You might know Billy as the creator of Hampton + Hudson in Inman Park, a fantastic sports bar/bistro/neighborhood hangout. Billy is from upstate New York, and Anthony is from New Jersey. They named the restaurant after their Italian grandmothers.
I was there within days of their opening in SPX Alley on the Atlanta BeltLine at the end of 2018, hoping for more of that delicious Grandma pie. It wasn't on the menu, but the Old Fashion was close enough. From the first bite, I was hooked, and brought everyone I could to Nina & Rafi.
So I am thrilled to share that they are back on BiteLines Food & Art Tours.
Their Detroit Red Top pizza is like nothing else. People think it's deep dish. It's not. People expect it to be Sicilian. It's not. It is thick. It is filling. It has cheese baked around the crust (like Pizza Hut, Anthony told Atlanta Magazine). It is extraordinary, but it is none of the pizzas you have tried before. If you want to drool a little, read this.
As good as the Detroit pizza is, it is their New Jersey style pie that calls to me most.
On an average Tuesday night (pretty much the only time we are sure to get in), Shawn and I will order the smaller round cheese pizza. I add pepperoni to my half. The pepperoni is old world style - small, round and curling upward - and highly addictive.
Their Tony Pepperoni is smothered in meat. For someone like me who thinks pizza isn't pizza without pepperoni, it's a dream come true.
While the pizza is the star, Nina & Rafi creates new dishes to stay fresh. Recently, we tried their artichoke appetizer - a refreshing alternative to all the carbs. They also serve meatballs, chicken parm (a classic favorite), subs, and have experimented with chicken wings, even teaming up with Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.
Their cocktails are refreshing. I fell in love with Aperol Spritz the first time I had it here, and it became my drink of choice.
And they're now serving brunch pizza on weekends - French toast style.
I cannot wait to show Nina & Rafi to everyone on our BiteLines food & art tours. So if you are looking for things to do post-COVID, this is a great way to experience Atlanta through some of its most popular restaurants. We are now accepting bookings for June. Sign up to fill up!
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food & art tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.