When talking about food, ‘medium rare’ refers to cooking meat such that the outside is browned with just a hint of red in the middle, striving to provide the perfect combination of tenderness and flavor. This column, much like its namesake, strives to provide the perfect combination of epicurean insight and Atlanta-area atmosphere.
Want a taste of the Mediterranean without racking up thousands of skymiles? Meander down Ponce de Leon Avenue to Café Lily, a cozy neighborhood bistro serving brunch, lunch and dinner.
The brainchild of father and son Angelo and Anthony Pitillo after Anthony’s graduation from The Art Institute of Atlanta’s culinary program, Café Lilly’s distinct Mediterranean flavor is apparent the moment you walk in through the door.
Intimate table settings are framed by vibrant purple paint on the walls and a feeling of familiarity reminiscent of your grandmother’s kitchen.
The restaurant serves brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, wine and happiness, but they are perhaps best known for their Sunday brunch.
While Mary may have had a little lamb, she has nothing on Café Lily’s Greek lamb and eggs dish. Marinated and chargrilled Australian lamb tenderloin is served with scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes and either homestyle potatoes or cheesy polenta for one of the most flavorful meals I’ve ever had.
Additionally, my brunch partner had the Tortilla Española – a “traditional Spanish open-faced omelette with imported Spanish chorizo sausage, roasted red peppers, fried potatoes, onions and garlic, topped with melted Manchego cheese.” While the menu suggested that it was “spicy upon request,” we both discovered that its kick was relatively mild compared to actual spicy food.
Other menu standouts were the French-French Toast (Nana’s recipe), the Frittata Rustica and the Pinchitos, Café Lily’s signature dish comprised of chargrilled Spanish-spiced lamb tenderloin, sautéed white sweet potatoes and green beans, picante salsa verde and Manchego cheese.
In addition to food, the comfort in Café Lily lies in the atmosphere created. As mentioned before, the purple walls are visually appealing, and the furniture and decoration (guided by Anthony’s mother Elizabeth, according to their website) feels more like a warm Italian trattoria than a Decatur getaway.
The service is timely, friendly and just as warm as the environment surrounding it.
Café Lily is just as perfect a location for a romantic date as it is for catching up with friends, and the price point is not unreasonable for both the food and the extensive wine list.
The question to ask yourself (or your server) isn’t “What’s good to get” but “What should I get this time?” With its menu, vibe and accessible price point, Café Lily is a weekend staple that will never get old.