Hidden Hometown Gems: Milton/Alpharetta

Written by Emily Anne Jackson

 Hidden Gems


Obscured from clear view by a Firestone auto care location, this gem can be found easily by following the smell of garlic and wood smoke. Stefano Rea, who once worked alongside Chef Linda Harrell at Cibo e Beve, is more than just a fantastic pizza maker. He has created some very fine salads, pasta dishes and desserts, so while real Napoletana-style pizza might be the main draw, don’t be shy with the menu here. During one visit, Rea suggested spaghetti with white clam sauce.

Served in a nice-sized bowl, the al dente spaghetti was adorned with garlic, olive oil, herbs and clams still in the shell. Adda little Parmigiana cheese, some sprinkles of crushed red pepper, and a few pieces of bread, and you have a perfect meal for a cool fall day. But, if a pizza is calling your name, try the salame (spicy pepperoni) or the savory, almost decadent, tartufo (mozzarella, fontina, pancetta, mushrooms, garlic, finished with fresh rosemary and truffle oil). Because the 13-inch pizzas are cooked at such a high temperature, most of the time you’ll being enjoying the piping hot, slightly charred pizza less than fi ve minutes later. Owners Jennifer Simmons and Stewart Muller have created a nice local following due to their attention to aesthetics, fresh ingredients, a nice wine list and a specials menu that keeps their regulars engaged. The wine list, smartly chosen by Simmons, includes varietals from all parts of Italy, many of which you likely haven’t seen or tried. Stunning versions of limoncello also are available after dinner, as is a wonderful version of homemade tiramisu.

800 North Main St., Alpharetta, 770-559-4674, campaniaga.com



Entering All Fired Up pottery painting studio, you’ll feel your troubles start melting away. Art lovers Jim and Bobbie Drummond began peddling pottery with the noble goal of sharing the power to create with people of all ages and experience levels. With more than 800 pieces of pottery and glasswork to choose from, finding the perfect dinner plate or ceramic turkey (hey, whatever gets the creative juices flowing) to emblazon is easy. They’ve got example pieces to work off of as well as stamps and stencils, but they’re all for letting your inner Van Gogh go wild. One of the things that makes All Fired Up extra unique, aside from their eclectic pottery selection, is that they only charge their customers for the piece they pick. Because they want you to relax and soak in the stress-neutralizing nature of art, they let you take as much studio time as you need and as many coats of paint as you want, free of charge. All Fired Up offers art classes for those that long to kindle their creative flame as well as for those who have yet to ignite one. Their BYOB canvas painting class makes a memorable GNO (ahem, Girls Night Out) with a built-in keepsake. If you can’t make it to a class, however, we’re all for making up a reason to celebrate and throwing a paint party. Birthdays, baby showers and wedding-related functions all present tempting turkey painting opportunities.

53 South Main St., Alpharetta, 770-740-7800, allfiredupinc.com



Giving up gluten has its surprises. After a few breadless weeks, you might be surprised by the desperate lengths you would go to get your hands on a red velvet cupcake, for example. Whether you’ve cut out the grainy stuff for medical reasons or personal ones, Sally’s has the goods to cure your nostalgia for the wheat-filled days of yore. We aren’t just talkin’ desserts either. They have all the foods you’ll never take for granted again after starting a gluten-free life – things like muffins, sandwich bread, dinner rolls and even pizzas! These angels of all things oven-baked offer a number of dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free options, too. For November, they’re running a special Thanksgiving menu (which may or may not include a killer pecan pie) so you can have a delicious holiday, no matter your dietary restrictions.

4390 Kimball Bridge Road, Alpharetta, 470-226-7965, sallysglutenfreebakery.com



We’d like to unofficially dub Broadwell Cottage the Best Smelling Store in Alpharetta. Between the flowering gardens found in front of the entrance and the extravagant supply of scented candles within, a quick loop around this part studio, part boutique equates to about an hour-long aromatherapy session by our estimate. Aside from the candles and jewelry you might expect to encounter in a cottage-bound gift shop, you’ll come across a secret cache of gourmet cheeses and condiments, a chic assemblage of unique home accessories and a treasure trove of fashion finds. Even if you aren’t in the market for an unbelievably adorable housewarming gift, the enchanting atmosphere alone makes this gem worth the trip.

765 Mid Broadwell Road, Milton, 770-354-2302



In what appears to be just another Old Milton strip mall sits one of the swingin’-est jazz bars in the States. Don’t believe it? Grab a seat sometime. Gazing out at the acoustically engineered soundstage a few feet away from your candlelit table, you’ll start to feel the separation between artist and audience dissolve. While the intimate listening club setting might make you feel like you stepped into a romantic black and white movie, the music you’ll hear is pure Technicolor. Nov. 29 – Dec. 1, for instance, the so-called acoustic living room welcomes renowned pianist Marcus Roberts to its stage. Get your tickets while you still can, you hepcat, you.

4075 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, 855-583-5838, thevelvetnote.com



In Renaissance days,the term “cabinet of curiosities”was used to describe an encyclopediccollection of objects whose specific categorical boundaries were yet to be discovered. They weren’t always the most educational or valuable sets of artifacts, but they were always beautiful. These days, Alpharetta has its own cabinet of curiosities titled Sis & Moon’s. Like its Renaissance predecessors, it consists of a motley mixture of contemporary handicrafts and vintage relics. Sisters and designers Christine Vogt Tamisin and Wendy Vogt organize their rusty and refurbished oddities with equal parts love and artistic fl air. But the team behind this fanciful shop are more than purveyors of finished products; in the back they hide The Treehouse at Sis & Moon’s, an art gallery and working studio where you can observe the artists themselves developing their craft.

24 Milton Ave., Alpharetta, 404-414-5765, sisandmoon.com



Since 2003, Alpharetta resident Mary Katherine Solley has been giving Vera Bradley a run for her money. What began as a fruitless day of shopping has grown into a full-blown online accessory empire. Solley needed a bag with limitless versatility. Unfortunately, the three-in-one purse-tote-diaper bag she had in mind was nowhere to be found. Not one to be defeated, Solley simply designed and created the multifunctional tote herself. Today, all of her bags achieve the seemingly impossible feat of combining classic shapes, eye-catching colors and practical usability. The revolutionary carryalls as well as personalized gifts such as bath wraps, memo boards, picture frames and baby gifts are available online and in quite a few shops outside of Atlanta.

1105 Powers Place, Alpharetta, 404-668-8447, solleybags.com



A meal at this Alpharettabased bistro is like an epicurean tour of Europe, no passport necessary. Thanks to Breadtime, you can say “guten tag” (and “bonjour” and “ciao”) to Austrian spaetzle, German beer, French cheese and Italian style appetizers the next time you break bread, and no one will have to smuggle anything through customs for you. What’s even better than that, though, is that the owners import their succulent continental provisions from sustainably-minded growers and makers. Not only are their products as authentically European as apple pie is American, they’re also kind to the planet. In conclusion, if you’re wondering where our next international adventure will take us, look no further than Downtown Alpharetta.

235 S. Main St,, Alpharetta, 678-691-6723,breadtime-atl.com



Have you ever brought home a plant from a nursery and prayerfully planted it in your yard, only to watch it shrivel up in a couple of weeks? It could very well be that you purchased a plant shipped in from foreign soils. Take a drive out to Scottsdale Farms and look around. Much of the flora you see by the barn and in the surrounding forest didn’t travel far to get there; many of the sprouts up for sale are grown locally at the family farm near Big Canoe. These for Georgia, from Georgia plants are well acclimated for the Southeast’s subtropical climate. Any plants that don’t hail from Big Canoe pass a climate suitability assessment. We don’t know about you, but our thumbs are feeling greener already.

But it’s more than the nursery that draws us to Scottsdale Farms. Inside the timber-frame barn is a treasure trove of garden supplies, gifts and whimsical décor. Here, guests can attend workshops about gardening, cooking, decorating and kids activities. Should you venture into this haven of vegetation, gifts and décor this month, you’ll encounter Douglas firs and fa-la-la finery of all sorts. Get merry with seasonal refreshments and lots of local art at their annual Christmas Open House on Nov. 7 or drop by at the end of the month to take a hayride through the Enchanted Christmas Tree Forest.

15639Birmingham Highway, Milton, 770-777-5875, scottsdalefarms.com

  1. Betty J11-05-2013

    I love Emily’s analysis of all the interesting shops. I would love to try the specialty of each business.
    Great work Emily.