The first thing I discovered about Serafino Italian Restaurant at 1225 Mount Zion Road in Morrow, Georgia is that they are not there anymore. They’ve moved.
They came so highly recommended, however, that I decided to do a little leg work and find them.
So it was that I descended on their new location at 909 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 120, Stockbridge, Georgia with nine other eager diners in tow.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for authentic Italian fare, eschewing the rubber stamp cuisine of the plastic Italian chain establishments for the real deal that can only be found in the out-of-the-way “mom and pop” places. Serafino definitely qualifies as out-of-the-way. Its new location in a small, cramped “suite” in a Publix shopping plaza some distance off the beaten path is a definite step down from their previous digs on a major thoroughfare a stone’s throw from 1-75.
One of the raves that attracted me to the place was the friendly atmosphere. The owner, it was said, personally makes his way around the tables chatting up the diners. The owner was not so chatty on the Saturday night I visited. If the guy who appeared to be the owner was, in fact, that individual, he rather actively avoided my large party after seating us, opting instead to let two members of the waitstaff answer our questions and see to our needs, which they did adequately.
Unfortunately, I never got to visit the original location, so my frame of reference is limited. But I had been told that the place dripped with ambiance. The new location is way too small to have ambiance. There’s a nice mural dominating one wall and a few scattered generic Italian images and icons here and there, but the overall impression that you’re sitting in a small room overlooking a grocery store parking lot is hard to avoid. Still, they’re just settling in, so maybe things will improve with time.
The food is a whole different story. There aren’t enough “w”s in “wow!” From the bountiful salad bowls and delicious fresh-made breads that arrived at our tables shortly after we did, through the marvelous dishes that followed, there was not one, single trace of a negative comment made about anything any of us put in our mouths. In fact, it was a strangely quite meal as ten people consumed food that was generally acclaimed as the best they’d ever had in silent and reverent awe.
We were divided four and six between two tables, so I’m not sure of what everybody had but I do know what they didn’t have: complaints. In a group that size, there’s always somebody who doesn’t like something. Not here. Everybody liked everything and there was a lot of sampling around going on.
My table of four started with the aforementioned complimentary salad and bread. The bread is especially deserving of comment. Obviously fatto in casa (homemade), the rolls were crusty on the outside, soft on the inside and served swimming in a garlic butter replete with bits of minced fresh garlic.
We moved on to antipasti of mozzarella di fritti and stuffed mushrooms, both of which were excellent. It was particularly obvious that the fried mozzarella sticks did not come from the freezer of the grocery store next door. They were fresh, delicious and oversized by comparison to average restaurant fare. Both dishes were priced at $6.95.
There was a little communication gaffe in ordering as I mistook our Greek waiter’s accent for Italian. I kept ordering “vino rosso” and he kept repeating “vino rojo” — which is actually Spanish, go figure – but eventually we were served an excellent red wine.
Piatti di primi at our table consisted of ravioli al aragosta and ravioli di formaggi. Priced at $17.95 and $10.95, respectively, they were both exceptional dishes of fresh-made pasta in a savory salsa di pomodoro with succulent lobster in the first instance and rich, hearty cheeses in the second. Both were attractively presented in ample portions.
I inquired among others in our party and got similar raves about the cannelloni and the eggplant parmigiano.
Nobody at our table of four had room for dessert, but some of the gluttons at the next table had a great time sampling among the chocolate mousse, the tiramisu and several varieties of cheescake.
Everybody thanked me for making the effort to find the place and vowed to make it an annual stop for our business group and to recommend it to our associates. It is hoped that the restaurant will stay in the same location (unless they find a better one) and will be a little more settled in on the occasion of our next visit.
Serafino Italian Restaurant deserves an overall rating of very good, with excellent food that is a great value for the money weighed against an atmosphere that was average, at best, and service that, while generally friendly and attentive, could have used a little improvement. That said, I’m willing to recommend Serafino as a more than worthwhile stop on the south side of Atlanta.
Serafino Italian Restaurant is a casual dress establishment that does not accept reservations. Seating is very limited so wait times may be extended on busy nights. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and there is plenty of parking.
The restaurant does not have a website, but as of this writing, the phone number from the old location — (770) 961-4410 — still works.