One block off Peachtree Street on 7th avenue sits the unmistakable gem that is Ecco. The restaurant is an European continental dining experience. The whole experience shows influences from French, Italian, and Spanish traditions.
The outdoor seating looked very inviting at Ecco, but the Autumn breezes warned against sitting out there. “Maybe when the weather warms back up. I’m sure we will be back a few times by then.”
“We sure will. Especially if you’re buying,” I smirked.
I found myself a little overdressed once we got inside, but not by leaps and bounds. The Maitre’d was fully prepared, even though we were 20 minutes early for the reservation. It hadn’t taken as long as we’d planned to get into midtown. Probably due to it being mid-week.
We followed the hostess through the dining room, past the open kitchen, where we gawked at the artful creations being efficiently prepared for delivery to their tables. The pizzas looked incredible. I must remember to give them a try next time. Our table was near a corner decorated with framed black and white photos of old-world scenes of daily life and Italian restaurateurs during the turn of the last century. The lighting was dim enough to be called mood lighting, but not too dim.
Our waitress, Lizz, is petite, and looks to be about 18 years old. After asking about some appetizers, I’m impressed with her memory and training, and I decide quickly that she’s a bit older than 18 when she deftly maneuvers the depths of the wine list with absolute aplomb. And she isn’t the sommelier. I decide on a wine that has very freshly been added to the menu: a Mojo de Sangiovese 2005 that was precisely up my alley: dry, red, and with complex undertones.
The mixed drinks were very interesting as well. The lemonade provençal was fantastic and fruity, but with the expected tart lemon taste.
The “main dishes” didn’t have vegetarian options, but Lizz had us covered: “There is a fettuccine and several pizzas that are all vegetarian, but the best way to get a taste of the menu on your first visit is the European way: pick two or three items from the ‘appetizers’ and ‘taste & share’ sections of the menu, and try a bit of everything.”
Lizz is brilliant. This would be a good idea, even if you have a larger party, everybody order two or three, and just go for the full nosh.
I tried the sweet gem salad with the pomegranate, the baby eggplant, and the stuffed Piquillo peppers, and Ecco has earned a special place for me. After talking with the chef and manager, we got ready to leave, and got the bill for dinner. With drinks and the appetizer, the total check was about half what we were expecting, so it was even more surprising and pleasing.
The stuff is sort of along the lines of a baby swiss, with small holes appearing, but it’s not smoky in flavor at all, it’s very delicate.
I’ll not go into too much detail here, but I will say that I have dined at restaurants here in Atlanta that cost three and four times as much on average, and have not had such an amazing experience. The ambiance, attentive staff, inventive menu, brilliant wine and drinks list, and highly reasonable prices, not to mention the convenience of the central midtown location (especially when meeting people who are coming from different parts of town), are all reasons to come and try it out. After you have, you will agree that it’s a great place to keep returning.
In Italian, “ecco” means something in the range of “here is, here are, there is, there are, comes, here come”, as in something or someone is approaching or making an entrance.
Ecco il bella! = Here is the beautiful one!
Echo (English, def: a lingering trace or effect).
Dining at Ecco has created a lingering trace that will have me returning for more, and has changed some preconceptions about dining in Atlanta.