It's ... alive!: Cameli's conquers the big "V" The big "V" in the front window glows like Hester Prynne's scarlet "A." But rather than proclaiming a breach of the Ten Commandments, it's warding off all those seeking to gorge themselves on the flesh of lower animals. Yep, George Cameli's Pastificio Cameli is now simply Cameli's, a vegetarian -- mostly vegan -- joint. The restaurant used to serve excellent low-priced pasta dishes and was an anchor of the East Atlanta food scene. Now it touts tofu tacos, black-bean patties and a kick-ass salad bar. The tables sport playful plastic toy giraffes, elephants and other wildlife. They're the only mammals you'll see on the menu.Dead or alive: Remember, this is a vegetarian restaurant. So when the menu says "live," it's referring to the ingredients, which are raw and should contain beneficial enzymes. There's hummus, and there's "live" hummus. The hummus platter ($5.75 for both varieties) comes with raw cucumbers, carrots, celery, dates and warm pita slices. We asked to sample both types to see the difference. The live variety has a courser texture and a stronger flavor that we actually preferred to the "dead" version. Go figure. There's also live Italian dressing and live salsa to accompany the blue corn chips.What we ate: The vegan burger ($5.25) is marinated and served a sprouted wheat bun. Unlike some versions that actually contain chunks of asparagus and corn bits, this veggie burger is your standard pressed variety. If you don't want the bread, have the burger served on a bed of romaine lettuce (all sandwiches can be served this way). The steak fries that come with the burger and sandwiches are fried in peanut oil, and are hot and crisp. The menu's description of the traditional "beef" taco ($5.25) didn't make my stomach growl, but the vegan mix of pinto and white beans, ground soy meat with hummus and lettuce and tomatoes, all stuffed into three soft corn tortillas, turned out to be especially yummy.Cheapest item: The salad bar contains a selection of mixed greens, romaine and other lettuce varieties. For $3 a bowl or $5.50 a plate, it's a great deal ($4 a pound for carryout). Pile on the marinated collard greens (think Southern kimchee), vegan potato salad and coleslaw, fresh red bell peppers, mushrooms, sprouts and more.Most expensive item: The most disappointing menu item is also the most expensive. The spinach ravioli ($11) comes filled with gorgonzola cheese and served in a light sauce of diced tomatoes and garlic. The cheese had little flavor, and the ravioli was cold and tough. Hardly a carryover from the former menu's glory days.

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