Less a restaurant than a sleekly upscale deli, a source for fashionable cured meats, exotic truffled cheeses from the Veneto, impeccable meatball sandwiches, “Kobe-beef” pastrami, and a pistachio cookie than which there is no other, Porta Via — along with the brand-new NapaStyle on Lake — is the newest exhibit in the Italianization of Pasadena’s food culture, and not incidentally a really good place to get lunch or takeout osso buco for a Hollywood Bowl basket. It’s Pasadena’s answer to Lemon Moon, except you can get a BLT made with fried pancetta. Glass cases burst with various Italian deli standards, but also with prepared entrées, and with things like sautéed chard with garlic, insalata caprese made with the tiniest marbles of fresh mozzarella, and herb-roasted carrots, all sold by weight. There are pressed panini filled with things like fresh mozzarella and basil or Italian cold cuts in the style of the Autogrill, the beloved fast-service restaurant chain perched above the gasoline pumps on Italy’s Autostrada. 1 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 793-9000, www.portaviafoods.com.
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