With its welcoming atmosphere and artisanal breakfast and lunch offerings,   Atria Cafe in Lakewood Ranch has quickly become a local hotspot since it first opened in September 2020. Fans of this food-focused, family-run restaurant have been hungry for more of Atria’s thoughtful cuisine, and have urged owners Jim and Weyli Angus to expand. Instead of opening up new locations, the Angus family met this demand by maximizing their current space and opening for dinner. Now Atria Cafe is also open five evenings a week, serving up specialty pizzas done in their own singular style.  In order to appreciate what makes Atria’s pizzas so noteworthy, it’s important to understand the restaurant’s philosophy about food and community in general.

“Our whole goal for Atria is to build community through food and beverage in its simplest form. The vision for Atria was born because we want to connect people with what they eat and drink,” says Jim Angus. “We want to provide a really high-quality food and beverage experience.” This means the team at Atria crafts as much of their food in-house as possible, from their scratch-made bread and pastries to their dressings and sauces to the syrups that flavor their coffee drinks. What they can’t make themselves, they source from carefully-selected purveyors. These values are exemplified in the pizzas at Atria.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

The foundation of an Atria pizza is a sourdough crust made in-house from the same starter that is used in the cafe’s signature sourdough bread.“We want to highlight the dough, which means that the sauce can’t be overpowering,” Angus explains. “We need something very simple, so I get really nice canned tomatoes from Italy and just add some good sea salt. Then we just take fresh basil and rip it up so it gets nice and fragrant. And that’s it. Between the flavor of the sourdough crust and the simplicity of the sauce, pretty much everything else that we put on top really has its own way to shine.”

Simplicity is the key word here. At Atria, the Neapolitan-inspired pizzas are dressed with classic ingredients that have been treated with the utmost care. “We find good products, but find ways to do a little bit extra to make them the best,” Angus says. “I tried, I want to say, eight different types of mozzarella until I found the one I was looking for. Even then, we take the extra step to cut it and let it drain overnight to remove excess moisture so it doesn’t sog out your pizza.” 

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

That’s just one example of how Atria takes an ingredient from ordinary to extraordinary. They don’t stop at just using heirloom tomatoes; they char the skins with a flamethrower to enhance the flavor. They take a similar approach when preserving the shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms that top their Fun Guy pizza by cooking the mixture down with a mushroom-infused oil. 

“We’re getting good products in, but using our skills and our culinary prowess to take it up to another level,” Angus says. “It’s kind of ridiculous and over the top, but those are things I feel make our pizzas really special.” Atria Cafe is serving up pizza Tuesday through Saturday evenings between 5 pm and 8:30 pm. You can pick yours up to go, or dine in and check out their rotating list of natural and organic wines. Atria is also open daily from 8 am to 2:30 pm, offering up coffee drinks as well as a wide array of breakfast and lunch options.