What started as a boring day to renew my passport in Snellville, Georgia, turned into a spontaneous trip to Atlanta’s famous Ponce City Market. As a New Jersey native who knows nothing about Georgia other than the fact that its capital is Atlanta, I’ve always asked my Georgian-native friends for hot spots in the city. After asking around, Ponce City Market consistently came up as a highly recommended place where I could take pictures, walk around and, most importantly, eat!
My dad, who was visiting me for the day, and I walked up and down the aisles of Ponce deliberating about what food we were in the mood for. Botiwalla, 9 Mile Station and El Super Pan all passed our eyes, but the Gourmet Italian Market located at the end of the first floor had us sold. Called Bellina Alimentari, its menu features several antipasti (appetizers), pastas, paninos, sides and desserts.
Almost immediately after arrival, my dad and I were seated at a table that gave us a perfect view of people bustling outside, enjoying the 70-degrees weather. The restaurant was quite meticulous about COVID-19 safety too, with a table being left open between each party and all waiters wearing masks. After we made ourselves comfortable with these precautions in place, we didn’t hesitate to order; the plane e Olive, burrata, eggplant lasagna and Tiramisù were tempting enough.
The house baked schiacciata bread, which is a type of flat bread from regions of Tuscany, Italy, was tremendously soft and had hints of freshly marinated olives. Each piece melted in my mouth. The side of olive oil served as the perfect dip as it softened the crispy outer layer of each bite of bread.
The thick and flavorful sianos burrata, accompanied with soft butternut squash, crispy enchanted spring apples and 13-month local prosciutto, was the highlight of the meal. The dish was memorable, as it experimented with a variety of sweet and spicy flavors that balanced each other out as well as textured ingredients. Bits of pancetta were sprinkled on the curd of cheese, which was surrounded by a pool of sweet balsamic glaze, rissioco (red lettuce) and mixed greens. The glaze also complemented the schiacciata very well, by breaking up the salty flavors of the bread.
My dad and I ordered the vegetarian eggplant lasagne, which was topped with pomodoro, basil, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano. This dish had a large eggplant lasagne piece coated with marinara sauce and breadcrumbs placed in the center of the plate and a flavorful soup of marinara sauce, bread crumbs and Italian spices. The lasagne was a delight — crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.
We finished our meal with the Tiramisù made from mascarpone cream and espresso soaked Italian cookies. The Tiramisù was served in a small, personal cup. It was extremely thick and made with
precision, as each layer was formed distinctly, but came together to produce a delicious explosion of espresso and cocoa powder.
The staff at Bellina Alimentari was especially courteous and quick to bring out our food and the entire experience was great as we felt welcomed by the restaurant staff and were able to enjoy our first, and definitely not last, meal at Ponce. Because the market is lined with restaurants of all sorts of cuisines, there is something to be found for everyone. I highly recommend spending the day with family and friends at Ponce, especially on days when the typical rainy Georgia weather is replaced with sunshine and a cool breeze.