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What's New: Eatery All Doughed Up
Apr 25, 2008

By Lori Johnston
For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The dough is the base for almost all things at Buckhead Pizza Co., a casual cosmopolitan eatery in a booming area down the road from the Mall of Georgia.

It's a new venture by Sean Kelly, who previously worked for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, and Issam Abdullah, a former owner of Ray's New York Pizza.

"We wanted to bring a little piece of the city to them," said Kelly, the restaurant's managing partner. "We really like the growth in the northern Gwinnett County area, especially in Buford. We felt like it was a good place to launch our concept and to hone it."

Plans call for another Buckhead Pizza to open in May in south Forsyth County, at Ga. 400 and Peachtree Parkway. The actual Buckhead one is expected to debut this fall at Realm, a high-rise condo development with offices, shops and restaurants at Piedmont and Peachtree roads.

Trendy flatbreads are among the appetizer choices, all of which Kelly says are large enough for two people to share. The Peachtree Road flatbread combines slices of roasted chicken breast, red onion, red peppers and tomatoes on a thin layer of regular or whole-wheat dough. That's baked in a stone oven and topped with mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The tasty result is a different version of the double-dish pizza. A little skill is required to keep the salad on the square-shaped slices, but all the ingredients blend well together and make the dish. Kelly said the restaurant is trying to make a niche with health-conscious diners by offering flatbreads and other items by working with a nutritionist (a 500-calorie pizza is in the plans). Other appetizers include bland garlic knots as well as calamari, chicken wings and a variety of items, including sausage and a portabello mushroom cap on the flatbread, aptly called The Dome. Salads have a variety of colorful veggies. The Greek, which arrives chopped, has huge, impressive chunks of feta cheese.

Flat rolls, pizzas and calzones also take advantage of the whole-wheat and regular dough. All of these options allow diners to choose from similar toppings, such as zucchini, squash, strip steak or gulf shrimp, whether they're in the mood for a pie or a sandwich. The restaurant grinds and makes its sausage, which is part of the meaty The Ted pizza, along with ham, pepperoni, ground beef and mushrooms. It's spicy sausage, and Kelly doesn't apologize. "I feel like sausage should be memorable," he said. The sauce fails to stand out among other pizza places in the area, and the weight of the toppings on The Ted makes the crust a bit soggy. A new favorite sandwich for me is the Piedmont Park, which rolls up melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and sautéed squash and zucchini in a warm piece of flatbread. Drinks include beer and liquor. During our Sunday lunch visit, the young wait staff took notice when it saw diners sending back sweet tea. They quickly resolved the problem by sweetening the pot.

Aquas and browns create a relaxing vibe, which helps if you're seated at one of the tables near the busy back entrance and kitchen. Eye-catching photographs of Buckhead and Midtown architecture by Robin Davis are framed and resized to fill walls. There's a bar in the middle of the restaurant, and an overhead door slides up to bring the party to the patio. For information about events and coupons, diners can sign up online to be part of what they call "the list."


> Where: 3350 Buford Drive, Buford, 770-932-7820

> Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 am.-1 am. Fridays and Saturdays

> Credit cards: American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

> Reservations: Yes

> Entree prices: $12-$14.50

> Recommended dishes: Peachtree Road flatbread, Piedmont Park flat rolls, The Ted pizza

> Verdict: Buckhead Pizza Co. is banking on its dough.