Dave Berry is out at Horseradish Grill to take the executive chef position at Italian market/restaurant Bellina Alimentari, which is on track to open in Ponce City Market this July. Berry ran the kitchen at Horseradish Grill from 1996 to 2001, and he returned to the restaurant last year after more than a decade out of the business. He left the Buckhead Southern eatery three weeks ago and is now starting the process of developing Bellina's menu.
Among the menu items diners can expect are a ragu, traditional meatballs, and porchetta. Here, Berry discusses how the restaurant is coming together.
What about Bellina Alimentari excites you? What drew you to this restaurant?
I think it was a very good opportunity to move forward. The group, Tal [Postelnik Baum] — after interviewing with them I bought into her package, her vision of what she wants to do here, and get back to the fact that I really want to work with local farmers and local people again. This is a great opportunity for me to do that. I think she really does want to do that; I don't think she's just talking it. I believe this is the kind of restaurant she wants to operate, and that is something I very much agree with. Our goals are aligned in that.
What is it that you like about cooking Italian food?
I think Italian food, at its core, is seasonal. That's where I want to go with that. Maybe you use a little bit of different ingredients in a different way, but at its core it's seasonal cooking. That's very much my belief. So it's not so much of a stretch — I'm a Southern boy, but I love Italian food. I love cooking Italian food. It's a win-win.
How's the menu coming together?
We're developing menus as we speak. Since I just came on board, at this stage of the game we're sourcing what we want to use for Ingredients. [Creative director Alice Noel Fabi] is on board. She's going to help with the authenticity side of it and is helping us import a lot of stuff from Italy. She worked in Italy with a school, taking students on field trips to local farms and local vendors over there, and she's going to be responsible for bringing in stuff that you won't find in the Southeast. We have a general idea. I think it's going to be a lot of roasted items, a lot of slow-cooked items, and we're going to move in that direction.
How is the beverage program going to work?
We're in the process of hiring all that staff. There's going to be a bar manager, from my understanding, but we haven't hired anybody. We're just now kind of defining what they're looking for. But there will definitely be a bar.