Rustic Italian meets hip, urban loft. Here in Alpharetta? Most definitely. Right here, nestled on one of the side streets at Avalon, Colletta makes you feel like you’ve entered a sleek, upscale in-town hotspot.
Colletta, Italian for “collection, a meeting place,” is all that and more, with the soundtrack of chatter from happy customers and hustle and bustle of the waitstaff serving up fabulous dishes.
Executive Chef Michael Perez wants the dishes served at Colletta to be as authentic as possible, yet not just the typical Northern Italian dishes Alpharetta diners might expect. The menu offers choices from Central to Northern Italy, and Chef Perez considers the cuisine style, Modern (Dixie) Italian because of the splash of Southern flare he adds to some of the dishes. He takes pride in curing his own meats in-house and cooking with local produce and ingredients.
Nothing less than amazing, the Sorrento appetizer made its way to our table first: a giant Alaskan king crab claw as the centerpiece, along with toasted ciabatta bread, cured salmon belly, tasty snapper Tufo, house-made whole grain mustard, and rich whipped ricotta topped with a Calabrian chile to infuse a little heat. All atop a large, thick wooden cutting board which complementing the feel of the restaurant.
The polenta meatballs, which my guest quickly named “melt in your mouth meatballs” brilliantly combined beef and pork braised in San Marsano tomato sauce with fresh basil, polenta and pecorino romano cheese.
The prosciutto di parma board was presented to our table adorned with 17-month aged prosciutto, a wedge of honeycomb from Savannah which balanced the sharpness of the fresh parmesan, topped off with fried bits of their very tasty homemade pizza crust.
For those interested in a little vino, Colletta’s very knowledgeable wine steward will help you navigate an extensive selection of wines from all regions of Italy.
The pumpkin risotto and pickled butternut squash had just right right hint of pumpkin, sprinkled with hazelnuts. The fork-tender smoked and braised short ribs were roasted in the wood fire oven and served with a carrot purée, fingerling potatoes and a giant onion ring. One of our favorites was the farfalle, house-made fresh pasta with gulf coast crab and shrimp, and topped with savory garlic. Simplicity wins, says Chef Perez.
The meal was nicely paced so we had time to enjoy the variety of dishes, flavors and soak in the atmosphere.
And just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, out came a colorful assortment of homemade gelato that actually made us feel like we were on the streets of Florence. The pistachio gelato was a hands-down favorite, adorned with a crisp macaroon. The almond budino is an almond custard with salted caramel topped with a scrumptious shortbread crumble, named as Charleston’s best dessert at the first restaurant owned by Indigo Road Restaurants, Indaco where GM Jon Murray previously worked. The subtle richness of the almond budino was a perfect finish to a wonderful meal.
Reservations recommended, valet parking. 900 Third Street. 678.722.8335