Saturday, July 26, 2008


A common trap for pizza restaurants is for the chef to dabble in serving Italian food. Generally, people searching for top of the line Italian dishes do not go to places that also serve pizza because the Italian food is average, at best. However, Pazzo Pizzeria and Italian Market, located near Lake Burton, is trying to turn that notion on its head. The pizza is truly top notch. The sauce is outstanding, but used sparingly on the pie which is a sure signal that the pizza maker knows his business. The thin crust reminds me of the type of pizza crusts that you find when eating pizza in Italy. We had the cheese pizza, since this is the pizza of choice for my three girls, but it is obvious that Pazzo has the basics mastered.

My wife and I were, as previously mentioned, a little apprehensive about the other fare on the menu. However, Pazzo gets a passing grade in this arena as well. We started with a somewhat unique appetizer called “Baci Bites”. This appetizer was pizza dough stuffed with proscuitto, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese, then deep fried. The texture of dough was similar to that of a doughnut, and the small amount of powdered sugar sprinkled on did nothing to dissuade you of that notion. While it was a tasty appetizer, I must note that the proscuitto tasted more like country ham.

Since we were sampling the pizza too, my wife and I split an entrĂ©e of Eggplant Parmigiano. This dish was truly outstanding, as the eggplant contained none of the bitterness that can sometimes ruin the flavor. Here again, the chef did not make the mistake of other Italian restaurants by overusing the sauce and cheese. Rather, it was blended effectively to accentuate, rather than overpower, the natural flavor of the eggplant. It was as good as my mother’s eggplant parmigiano, and that is saying something. The eggplant was served with grilled zucchini and squash, which was very good, and risotto, which was fairly average.

We passed on dessert, so I will have to leave that to a follow-up review. They have a full array of other dishes on the menu. I am not sure if any of their pastas are homemade, but their sauce is very good. I tried to order beer, but apparently they cannot serve it until July 1. They do serve wine from Habersham Winery since it is considered a “tasting room” for the winery, and I was told both places are owned by the same person or group. It would be nice if they could beef up their wine selection.

The atmosphere is truly outstanding, as it certainly captures the Italian sense of dining alfresco. Even the “indoor” seating is wide open to the outside. We sat in the courtyard which is surrounded by flowers, ivy and other plants. Pazzo has live music every Saturday night.

If you go to Pazzo, do not be afraid to explore the menu as I suspect there will be some gems to discover. For great pizza, you cannot beat it anywhere in the area, and Pazzo is a great place to spend a summer evening if you are in and around Lake Burton.

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