Bella Cucina & being carried away August 7, 2011

Sunbeams streaming in through shop windows onto shelves of tomato sauce, Arborio rice, and pesto. The wafting smell of garlicky Porchetta stacked high on freshly baked bread. Leisurely lunches of fresh fruit and cheese at distressed wood communal tables. This scene sounds as though I’m describing a recent travel adventure through Italy. Instead, I’m waxing poetic about the new Bella Cucina Porta Via store in the heart of Virginia-Highland right here in Atlanta.

Moving just a few doors down from their most recent retail space, the mood inside the store is a continent away from its previously smaller incarnation. While the company’s founder Alisa Barry has always had a very distinct vision about the lifestyle that Bella Cucina should portray, the Porta Via (which means “take away” or “carry away” in Italian) store seems to live and breathe this rustic Italian-inspired aesthetic. Every element of the store – from the seating to the display pieces – is carefully thought out and beautifully finished.

Gearing up for a particularly hectic week, it was just so nice being in the Porta Via store. The soft diffused light, the quiet carryings on. It was one of the most soothing retail experiences I’ve ever had. The addition of prepared foods, hand-packed pickles & preserved vegetables and a made-to-order sandwich counter catapults the store into the realm of Atlanta cult favorites Alon’s and Star Provisions – just with a thicker Italian accent.

The menu at Porta Via is seasonally influenced but, even in the short time that the store has been opened, some clear “classics” have emerged that will be constantly available – the house made Pimento cheese sandwich topped with bacon and bacon jam, as well as the insanely delicious egg salad sandwich heaped on ample bread – all of the bread and baked goods sold in the store are made fresh daily in Atlanta at the company’s kitchen facility and delivered to the shop. Seasonal additions like juicy heirloom tomato sandwiches and fresh figs paired with Italian cheeses compliment the set menu. Lemony and lightly dressed fingerling potatoes  dotted with pepper cress is a wonderful change from the usual side of mucky potato salad. There’s also dessert – and they’re brilliant. You can go the lighter route with a tangy and flavorful blood orange panna cotta…or you can have a few bites of the most insanely rich “Death by Chocolate” cookie I’ve ever tasted.

This is certainly one-stop shopping at it’s most luxurious – prepared foods, lunch, vinegars, pastas, beautiful plates and serving ware, imported Italian treats and the full line of Atlanta-born Bella Cucina products. The store will also (with at least 24 hours notice) put together stunningly prepared baskets and meals for outdoor picnics and events. Porta Via has already become a destination spot for Atlanta travelers – several folks with cameras stopped in during my quiet Sunday lunch…but it should surely be on the regular rotation for intown nosh spots.

Bella Cucina Porta Via is located at 1044 North Highland Avenue near the heart of Virginia Highland. They are open every day of the week from 11 am to 7 pm. You can keep up with all of the Bella Cucina goings-on by following along on their Facebook page or their Twitter feed. For more information about the Bella Cucina line of products, as well as recipes to help you use Bella Cucina products, visit their website.


melissa Aug 7, 2011 11:08 pm

i’m returning to atlanta this week to visit with my parents. i’ll be making a mad dash to Virginia Highlands…my old stomping grounds. thanks for the heads-up!

alisa barrry Aug 8, 2011 08:08 am


I am blown away by the beauty of your photographs! Your poetic musings about PORTA VIA had me riveted as if I were reading about someone else. Thank you for appreciating our art…of food. We look forward to welcoming your return!
buon appetito,

Lisa Aug 8, 2011 09:08 am

Beautiful post! I can’t wait to go and escape to Italy in my own backyard! Will be posting on my Facebook page. Your pictures and words are lovely!

Stephanie Aug 8, 2011 10:08 am

Lovely photos and write-up. I’m so glad you blogged about this…we moved from Virgina Highlamds neighborhood to Seattle two months ago and Porta Via is one place I was regretful to miss…you made me feel like I visited. Thank you.

Barbara | Creative Culinary Aug 8, 2011 10:08 am

You did it…for a moment I could imagine being in Italy, not at my kitchen table in Denver. Beautiful photos, great description and now a pang of jealousy!

Lucy Aug 8, 2011 10:08 am

I had no idea this store was in Atlanta. I love their products and will definitely be making a trip! Thanks for posting, beautiful photos.

stephchows Aug 8, 2011 11:08 am

This store looks perfect, I wish I lived close by so I could go visit it! Beautiful.

laurie dill Aug 8, 2011 11:08 am

The store looks exquisite and your photographs do it such beautiful, authentic justice. It is obvious that Bella Cucina is going to become the new “hot spot” but also, warm lingering place in town, and Alisa Barry’s food, known for being delicious and delicious to look at, stands out even moreso in a day to day kind of, “I got to have it” way………
If I lived in Virginia Highlands, I’d be there daily!

Joseph Vigor Restaurant Branding Aug 8, 2011 12:08 pm

Awesome post. I had no clue about this gem in the Highlands. I’ll be poppin over for a visit this weekend!

meg jones wall Aug 8, 2011 01:08 pm

*sigh* i just love this. i think i would spend every day here if i lived in atlanta. jealous!

merry jennifer Aug 8, 2011 07:08 pm

You do such wonderful reviews. I’m not even in Atlanta, but I wanted to read the whole thing, word by word. And, of course, your photographs are incredible – as always.

Cubalibre Aug 10, 2011 02:08 pm

You’re so right about those “Death By Chocolate” cookies– they’re so rich, my husband & I split one, and we were just bowled over by it. I’m sure I could eat a whole one, but it’d be (blissfully) daunting…absolutely love their fennel-cured olives, and that acacia honey from Italy. It’s a gorgeous store, and I hope it’s a smashing success!

Imported Italian Food Fan Jan 5, 2012 05:01 pm

I’m not from Atlanta either, but I read this one word by word. I checked out their site too – I always love learning about authentic Italian Import Shops. This place has me particularly salivatory.

mohn oder sesam. | milas-deli Feb 19, 2012 06:02 am

[…] hier würde ich mich heute am liebsten bei einer Portion Blutorangen Panna Cotta mit ‘Death by […]

Italian Food Lover Jun 7, 2012 02:06 am

Such wonderful images of a very beautiful store