Steaming hot pot pies from Paul Lubertazzi’s Traveling Fare Cafe really hit the spot any time of year.
story and photos by Bakery Boy
Around lunchtime people in downtown Marietta, Georgia, follow their noses to Chef Paul Lubertazzi’s place just off Marietta Square. For 27 years the amicable owner of Traveling Fare Café & Caterers has been cooking and baking aromatic meals for dine-in or take-out. His most alluring creations, called Paul’s Pot Pies, have achieved cult status among a hungry following, and they just might be the best pot pies in Georgia. No matter what the weather, hot or cold, a good pot pie is never out of season.
Here’s a primer on a heartwarming comfort food source you should keep on speed dial if you live anywhere close to this city just to the northwest of Atlanta—or if you are willing to pay the extra price to have pies cold-packed for overnight shipping anywhere.
WHAT MAKES THESE POT PIES SPECIAL Fresh ingredients, daily preparation in small batches, reasonable prices ($7.50 for a 6-inch pie to serve one, $21.95 for a 10-inch pie that feeds five or six), and most importantly taste.
PAUL’S STORY A New Jersey native and Culinary Institute of America graduate, he cooked in hotel kitchens before launching Traveling Fare Café in 1984. His mother Patricia, wife Roberta, brother Tommy, son Brayden, and daughter Renae help out.
INGREDIENTS “I get everything fresh from a butcher and a farmers market—big chunks of chicken or beef and lots of corn, carrots, broccoli, pearl onions, green beans, and peas,” Paul says.
CRUMBLY CRUSTS Paul rolls pie dough bottoms just before filling and baking, so they don’t get soggy waiting. He uses puff pastry for the tops for a crisp look and buttery taste.
TRADEMARK TOUCH “I top each pie with a flower shape cut from dough,” Paul says. “It’s my symbol, a tulip with stem and leaves. I’ll put people’s initials or other shapes there by request.”
VARIETY COUNTS Paul makes at least eight different kinds of pot pies. A few examples and what’s in them: Chicken Pot Pie (white meat, peas, potatoes, carrots, corn); Pot Roast Pot Pie (eye round, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas); Vegetarian Pot Pie (feta cheese, cannelloni beans, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini); Italian Sausage Pot Pie (sausage, mozzarella, provolone, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, marinara); Creole Shrimp Pot Pie (shrimp, rice, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers); Pizza Pot Pie (ground beef, mozzarella, provolone, onions, bell peppers).
CATERER’S RX Paul is no doctor, but when people are feeling a little under the weather, he cheerfully prescribes that they “eat a chicken pot pie and call me in the morning.”
RAVE REVIEW Local orthodontist Dr. Gerald “Gerry” Samson frequents Paul’s for pot pies nearly every week. “I like that they’re made fresh, the portions are generous, and they’re consistently delicious—the best comfort food ever,” Gerry says. “For Christmas, as a thank-you gesture, I give pies to my dentist friends who refer patients to me.”
GIFTING PIES Show up with pot pies at any sort of party—housewarming, birthday, football—or when visiting new babies or sick friends. They’re sure to be hits. Treat yourself sometime when you just don’t feel like cooking.
MAIL ORDER OPTION “For people who live far away and still want a Paul’s Pot Pie, we ship overnight packed in Styrofoam and dry ice,” Paul says. “It costs $12.50 to send a $21.95 pie, but to some devoted pot pie eaters, it’s apparently worth the price.”
TIPS Order ahead to avoid hearing the dreaded words, “They’re all gone!” Eat there at one of four small tables, or get a hot pie for take-out, or carry one home to freeze for later (cooking instructions provided).
Traveling Fare Café & Caterers
10 Mill Street, Marietta, GA 30060
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE AREA
Marietta Welcome Center, www.mariettasquare.com, 770-429-1115
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.atlanta.net, 404-521-6600