South Forsyth gets respect in food arena

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — They are the Rodney Dangerfield of the suburban food scene.

For generations, south Forsyth’s restaurants catered to the taste of indigenous locals.

Not much stood out aside from a few decent country cooking joints. At the same time, the area avoided attracting the chain and franchise establishments that continue to plague Alpharetta’s reputation.

Today, south Forsyth’s restaurant scene is coming of age.

Chains are slowly cropping up at new developments like the Avenue Forsyth.

But for the most part, the area is thankfully free of them.

Independent restaurateurs are beginning to take chances with more creative menus and local ingredients.

They are also recruiting talent in the kitchen. Nearly every restaurant I’ll mention has a culinary school graduate running the show.

Here are a few restaurants that are either up-and-coming newbies or much-lauded regional favorites.

And they are all in south Forsyth.

While this area has a long way to go before they compete with somewhere like Roswell, I still think they deserve attention. What other joints do you think stand out?

BW Tavern, 5665 Atlanta Highway in Alpharetta

A changing Forsyth demographic was one reason behind Mulligan’s transformation to BW Tavern. The local dive joint was a popular smoky hangout for locals to down a few beers. But new partner Alex King recognized the untapped potential of this diamond in the rough. As affluent suburbanites displace more and more locals, the need for smoky dive joints diminishes.

BW is still in their soft opening phase, so it might be best to give them some time. If you’re willing to be a guinea pig, give their new concept a try and let them know what you think.

So far, I’ve been impressed with Chef Corbet Walsh’s creative twist on tavern food.

Dutch Monkey Doughnuts, 3075 Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Cumming

What hasn’t been said of this small doughnut shop near the Avenue Forsyth? Their amazing success has attracted reviews from far and wide. I’d go so far as to say DMD is one of the best independent doughnut shops in the southeast United States. Yet I didn’t used to think this way.

I was a little skeptical when they first opened, and gave a mediocre review on Yelp. It’s been fun to watch (and taste) as their talent and creativity blossomed. Husband and wife team Martin Burge and Arpana Satyu are both graduates of the French Culinary Institute and have impressive resumes. Their whimsical use of fresh, local ingredients and fruits keeps me coming back monthly. My waist line disapproves of anything more often!

Scootz Gourmet Grill, 5905 Atlanta Highway in Alpharetta

Scootz may have already obtained burger supremacy in south Forsyth. It didn’t take long for this converted Cici’s Pizza to attract a loyal burger following. But Le Cordon Bleu alum chef Eric Banks does a better job with the rest of the Scootz menu. While not as creative as their new competitor down the street (BW Tavern), Scootz is executing simple dishes extremely well.

BB’s” Bronx Bagels, 770 McFarland Parkway in Alpharetta

Dough with holes in the middle.

South Forsyth does this well. Like Dutch Monkey, every food writer in metro Atlanta has written about BB’s. Their original location on McFarland Parkway has become a south Forsyth institution. It’s a mecca for Atlanta’s ex-patriot Yankee community. Don’t believe me? Show up on a Saturday morning and listen to the banter.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently rated BB’s as the best bagels in Atlanta. Their chewy, water boiled bagels are a weekly treat for me. However, I don’t find the rest of their menu very compelling. The exception may be their corned beef hash. Delicious.

Casa Nuova Italian, 5670 Atlanta Highway in Alpharetta

The Bongiorno family was farming their own produce long before it became hip for a restaurant to do so. Today, their farm produces so many products for their restaurant, they often send customers home with extras.

My wife and I scored a small bag of squash and zucchini on our last visit.

I’ve read some reviews that question the authenticity of the Italian food at Casa Nuova. The criticism is undeserved in my opinion.

The Bongiornos are originally from Cuba, but that doesn’t keep them from making some amazing Italian entrees. My favorite is the Chicken Francese.

The Chocolaterie, 410 Peachtree Parkway in Cumming

Stunningly beautiful works of edible art. Made in-house daily, the truffles at The Chocolaterie are exquisite. My favorite is the blue butterfly which is hand painted to exceptional detail. It’s a shame to destroy these little creations with your teeth. When you finally do, the snap of tempered chocolate gives way to velvety smooth ganache.

These little morsels of chocolatey goodness are not cheap. They may very well be the most expensive food, per bite, of anything in the area. But they are a sinfully good treat. The Chocolaterie is tucked away in the Avenue Forsyth. Serious chocolate snobs should seek them out.

S. Lee Guy is a Roots in Alpharetta blogger. His work can be found at www.rootsinalpharetta.com and www.northfulton.com.