When Gerry Klaskala founded Aria in 2000 in a small-yet-chic house in Buckhead, Atlanta was a different dining town, more conservative and stuffy. But Klaskala found a foothold and adoration. The accolades from organizations and publications such as the James Beard Foundation, Esquire Magazine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Atlanta magazine match the love residents have for this restaurant.
Even though the surrounding area has evolved, sprawled, and morphed into high-rises and upscale designer boutiques, Aria has stayed true to itself and solidified its reputation. While items on the menu such as the famed butter-braised Maine lobster, truffled potato puree, and broccoli mousseline stand the test of time, the restaurant responds to seasonality and the menu changes as such.
Klaskala is the culinary heart and brains behind the restaurant, yet general manager and wine director Andreas Loaiza, who has been with Aria since 2007, is a major creative driving force. In this installment of The One Who Keeps The Book, Loaiza answers questions about how to snag a seat and new dining options at the long-standing fine-dining institution.
Resy: How many seats are there at Aria?
Andreas Loaiza: Aria is a small restaurant with tables that can accommodate different types of gatherings, from intimate dinners to corporate events. The key is to know people and understand what their needs are.
When do reservations drop on Resy?
90 days out.
How quickly do those usually get booked out?
Depending on the time of year and what is going on in the city, Aria can get booked up quickly. If it’s a holiday or if there is a large event in town, it’s best to book early if you need a particular day and time.
How many seats are usually kept open for walk-ins?
Our bar and lounge are available for spontaneous diners every night. It’s an intimate space with a few bar stools and beautiful white oak tables, low lighting, and contemporary art from local artists.
What time would you recommend stopping by to snag one of those tables reserved for walk-ins?
The earlier, the better. The bar fills up quickly, sometimes with diners who arrive early to enjoy the bar’s atmosphere and have a drink before their dinner reservations. We open at 5:30 p.m..
What is the typical wait time for a walk-in?
It can go from zero to 90 minutes in no time.
When are your busiest nights?
When the most people are here! But seriously, it depends on what’s going on in the city and the time of year. Aria is consistently busy, and of course, Fridays and Saturdays are very busy, but if there is a large conference or big event, a weekday night could easily be full.
How many covers do you do on a given night?
Anywhere from 60 to 180.
Are there any other ways to snag a table?
Call the restaurant (404-233-7673) between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. the day of. This is the peak time for last-minute changes. Someone else’s canceled babysitter could be your opportunity!
In your opinion, what’s the best seat in the house?
It really depends on what you are looking for. We have tables that are cozy and intimate for romantic dinners, tables for those who love to people-watch, and tables for those with larger groups who want to celebrate.
Can people request specific tables?
Yes. We try to accommodate requests as best we can.
It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. Can you set the scene?
The work week is over. Everyone’s in a good mood. People are arriving, ready to have fun. It’s dinner party time! The cocktails are flowing, there’s delicious food on every table, the staff is efficient and hospitable. It’s a vibe.
What kind of music is played inside the restaurant?
The chef loves polkas and oom-pah-pahs but he is not allowed to select the music. So we play low-key, modern music.
What should someone order from the menu?
Hmm, so many great things. The ocean-fresh sea scallops, the slow-roasted short ribs, a crisp and gorgeous salad, or one of Kathryn King’s classic desserts. There is truly something for every taste.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Keep an eye out for our happy hour burger. It’s delicious! Only offered in the bar and lounge, and only for a few days here and there. Watch our social media for notifications.