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100 Hottest Restaurants 2015

Our new-and-improved rundown of the most talked-about restos of the moment!

Another packed night at Umi's (#1) bustling bar, a fave among A-listers like Drake, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Usher

3455 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.554.9995 | @stceciliaatl | $10-$46 | R

In the days leading up to the opening of St. Cecilia, Ford Fry’s latest addition to the Buckhead dining scene, the expectations were palpable: A million dollar-plus renovation to the sprawling Bluepointe space by the world-renowned Meyer Davis Studio was being spit-polished. A menu of coastal European-inspired fare was first crafted by Fry’s hand-chosen uberchef Brian Horn (who recently returned to JCT. Kitchen & Bar as executive chef). A towering bar and superchill lounge space were set to be a new staple for happy hour and beyond. St. C was slated to be the restaurateur’s biggest foray yet, so we can understand why the buzz would be a little intense.

Occasionally, a restaurant is capable of living up to such a difficult level of hype, and our palates are better off for it. And then once in a blue moon, we’re simply blown away. Sure enough, everything about St. Cecilia is exquisite.

Natural light floods a space that successfully walks the razor-thin line between modern elegance and rustic charm, as new Executive Chef Craig Richards brings his own savoir faire simplicity to a meticulously crafted menu of fresh fish and hand-kneaded pasta. Shareable antipasti like hearth calamari and smoked bluefish arancini are savory and refreshing. Similarly, the black & white spaghetti with calamari, shishito pesto and bottarga combines a heartiness with an inescapable delicacy. Georges Bank sea scallops, garnished with cauliflower, brown butter, capers and almonds, reaches simple perfection in a way seldom achieved by seafood in this city. The overall effect of Richards’ new twists are intoxicating.

And Ronnie LeClair calls all the shots on St. Cecilia’s cocktail menu. Gin fans will rejoice with the Green River, which combines muddled arugula, black pepper and cynar for a combination as spicy and sultry as a spring afternoon on the Chattahoochee. A list of small-batch wines has been carefully cultivated and marries the menu precisely. But don’t just take our word for it—the accolades have been pouring in from across the country. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Fry’s on fire.

Start with: Cobia tartare with salt-and-vinegar chips and horseradish cream
Main course: Spaghetti with crab and chiles, agnolotti or red wine risotto
Sip on: Peter and the Ocean
End with: Chocolate budino

Ask for what you want. Chef Craig Richards has been known to make some traditional Roman pastas such as spaghetti carbonara or spaghetti cacio e pepe. According to Richards, “It’s fun to try and nail a traditional dish.”

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