Monthly a group of local business owners, part of the Old 4th Ward Business Association, are invited to social hour at one of the member's restaurants, after the meeting. I was fortunate to be one of them on this fine day, as we walked to an adorable brick establishment just off Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta.
If we blinked driving down Edgewood, we would miss Noni's, located at 357 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta. It features fresh, Italian inspired cuisine with handmade pasta, lots of fresh ingredients and wonderful ambiance, by day. The concept was inspired by owner, Matt Rupert's, grandmother,"Noni."
You will almost always find people are laughing, smiling, eating and drinking. It's a far different scene here than what lies just 200 feet away from them, over the fence and thru the brush.
If you walk in through the back or the side rather, you'll come across this beautiful patio seating area but as you walking into the restaurant and bar, the scene changes again. A very large wooden "U" shaped bar, booths, tables, chairs, a nice seating area and very large windows face out over Edgewood Avenue, with a beautiful view of the city.
Lunch time and early evening are my favorite times at Noni's. My favorite dish is Kate's Big Salad made with greens, a variety of meats, orzo, olives and a special mustard vinaigrette with a side of their delicious garlic, parsley fries. Rupert's favorite dish is the Homemade Tagliatelle but with the Bolognese sauce, made from scratch every day.
Rupert started working in restaurants at 15 years old but his love for cooking came from his mother, aunt and grandmother. Every night they made some wonderful dish and sat at the table together, eating. Those memories and that inspiration brought him to open Noni's in July 2008. He now has 5 cooks in the kitchen, a kitchen manager and a full bar and wait staff. He employs the locals and helps support the expanding and growing Old 4th Ward district of Atlanta.
Rupert is one of the most warm, engaging business owner's I've met. He is very down to earth and still very active in his business. He never had any formal training in the kitchen, in fact the day Noni's opened was the first time he'd ever cooked in a commercial kitchen and he still remembers the overwhelming, "holy crap" moment when the tickets were flying in and he was preparing the plates. "Anyone can cook or make great food outside of a restaurant, but it's a totally different story when 20 tickets are flying in and all need to be served at once."
Rupert has done a fabulous job at diversifying his crowd and utilizing his location to fit the community demands. Noni's is also well known in the younger community as late night dance club, which is a whole different scene vastly different from the quaint, quiet, fun spot to eat during the day.
If you are close enough to walk, I highly recommend it. When the Atlanta street car comes, it will run right in front of Noni's, with a stop located just a few doors down. Parking is either on the street or down a narrow driveway between Noni's and the tattoo parlor which turns into a gravel drive.
Noni's has at least 10 special dietary request per day, so no matter what your needs are, they can usually find a way to feed you.