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Fine Food and Wines at Aria

By S. Mathur

Named one of the essential restaurants in Atlanta by Eater magazine in Fall 2015, Aria restaurant offers an avant-garde take on American favorites. The creativity of the menu is a reflection of Chef Gerry Klaskala's own personality.

Klaskala opened the restaurant in the year 2000. "The concept for Aria is inspired by Klaskala's love of art," says Aria's General Manager and Wine Director Andres Loaiza. "His vision was almost that of an artist opening their own gallery, somewhere he could showcase his culinary creations while also evolve as a chef."

Loaiza curates the wine menu at Aria. He is a Level Two Certified Sommelier and a certified Specialist of Wine. He also picks the wines for the popular Wine Dinners: "We host a limited number of wine dinners throughout the year. The setup is intimate and limited to only 20 seats. We feature a producer or wine region that would allow attendees to explore different aspects of food and wine pairing, and it gives guests a wonderful dining experience. They are usually sold out within a few hours of announcement to our mailing list!" The quality and consistency of the food allow for some great wine pairings, says Loaiza.

The food is hearty American fare with creative and sophisticated touches. The meats are cooked slowly - braised, roasted, stewed, or simmered - for the perfect flavor. Signature dishes like the Warm Lobster Cocktail, the Niman Ranch Slow Roasted Pork, and the Zinfandel Braised Beef Short Rib set off fresh ingredients with expert preparation. Favorite desserts include the Cross Creek Tangerine Panna Cotta, the fresh sorbets, and the Warm Chocolate Cheesecake. Loaiza's favorite dish at Aria? "The Zinfandel Braised Beef Short Rib. It is flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I like seeing how this dish takes slightly different interpretations as the seasonal accompaniment changes throughout the year."

Aria has become an important part of the Atlanta community and participates in community events and charities. Loaiza says that, "Aria values giving back and is involved with the local community through a wide range of events and programs: auctions benefiting the Trinity School, National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Harvest for a Cure, Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, Open Hand's Party in the Kitchen, among others."

Aria regularly makes "Best of Atlanta" lists, including distinctions for its wine list and romantic atmosphere. And Aria loves the city back. In a recent interview with Atlanta magazine, Chef Klaskala said: "I left [in the 1980s for six years]. I moved to Savannah and Boston and then came back, and when I came back, I kissed the ground and never wanted to leave. I came back for opportunity and love of the city. It's a great livable town with wonderful museums; the culture of symphony, opera, ballet, theater; the universities; and the diversity here in Atlanta makes for an interesting town. And now, the restaurant scene is at a par in so many other cities."

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