Especially during these staycation times, what better way to expend energy than to get pickup exploring some of the city’s Intown neighborhoods? If we can’t visit New York City, take a trip to Harlemesque Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard for some wholesome well-thought-out sandwiches, pizza, and hummus bowls piled super high. Owner Sam Eidus opened Firewall Food Stop in its current format in May 2019. Prior to that he operated a food truck that visited festivals and neighborhoods serving Neapolitan pizzas and Italian fare.
A native of Westfield, N.J., Eidus moved to Atlanta in 2003 and took jobs as a prep cook and line cook, working his way up to sous chef learning his craft at restaurants and catering companies. “Most of what I know about running a restaurant I learned at Dish Dive. I was admittedly pretty green when I set off on this endeavor, which is part of the reason it took 18 months to get this little [300-square-foot] shop open. “
When asked why Westview, a stone’s throw from the eponymous cemetery, he replied, “Our customers are extremely diverse. Our little neighborhood, where I also live, is a great community. I see repeat customers of all backgrounds. Some come just for pizza, some for our sandwiches, and some for the hummus bowls. While others will get all three. “
To combine with his knowledge of Mediterranean food, Eidus traveled in 2017 to Israel, where he experienced the communality of eating hummus. He recalled, “My friend Amir explained their typical lingo is ‘let’s go wipe some hummus.’ Friends, cold beer, warm pita, and incredible hummus. It was an activity. Not just a meal. The saying also speaks to the proper texture and temp. One simply can not wipe cold dense hummus with soft pita. Also, I learned about raw white onion. For me, it is the perfect compliment to showcase an incredible hummus. If I’m having one bite of hummus, it’s going to be on a raw white onion petal.”
Eidus hovers over the details, which he supervises with great care. He revealed that the secret to good hummus is fresh squeezed lemon, fresh ground cumin, soaking and cooking one’s own beans, and using high quality tahini. Firewall only uses Soom tahini.
“Great hummus is about texture and temperature. It should never be served cold. Room temperature is best. It should be somewhat light and airy in texture. The technique takes years to refine. We’re always trying to find little tricks and tweaks to make it just that little bit more delicious.”
Pre-pandemic Firewall was set to expand from a tiny takeout shop into the next unit in the same building. Construction had just finished when COVID hit. So after only two weeks of indoor dining, it had to shut down. The transition back to takeout with necessary COVID procedures was smooth, and Firewall has been able to weather the storm. Post COVID, it will have indoor and patio dining, and procure a beer and wine license.
The pita is not traditional white and doughy but Eidus’ more distinctive darker blistered crisp version. “We not only make it in house, we make it to order, along with all our breads. Every piece of bread we make is baked when it’s ordered.”
What we had:
Eidus’ famous hummus, a shareable bowl. It’s what’s on top that counts. We added pickled carrots and celery, sautéed mushrooms, pearl raw onion, North African tomato stew. The slightly ripe green olives were the best topping.
Flying V sandwich: roasted cauliflower, hummus, greens, pecans, onions, pomegranate molasses. Well-stuffed, the sweet molasses and nuts add a surprise twist.
Gardener Pizza: Beautifully presented with seasoned ricotta, spinach, tomato, lemon and garlic.
Eidus gladly subs for cashew cheese if requested. The pie is on the thin side instead of a heavy deep dish.
Other menu items include meats that are aptly named: Southern Italian, Sloppy Jeaux (imagine Bourbon Street) and Flying Crescent.
Bottom line: Definitely not fancy, but well thought out. Inspiring to see an owner like Eidus dedicated to his concept.
Order online at firewallatl.com and you’ll get $5 off your first $20 order.
Hours are Thursday through Saturday 3 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.