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James Beard Semifinalist Chef Deborah VanTrece Is Opening an Italian Restaurant

La Panarda opens May 12 in the former Serenidad space in Cascade Heights and offers a complimentary Aperol spritz and bruschetta before each meal

Ossobucco lamb shank with polenta, mushrooms and a spring pea compote from La Panarda in Atlanta.
Ossobucco lamb shank with polenta, mushrooms and a spring pea compote.
Josh Swinney
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

After closing her short-lived Latin Soul Food restaurant Serenidad in Cascade Heights earlier this year, chef Deborah VanTrece (Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, Oreatha’s at the Point), is poised to open her next restaurant in the space.

Italian restaurant La Panarda opens Friday, May 12, where meals begin with complimentary stuzzichini (bruschetta) and an Aperol spritz. And VanTrece plans to lead the kitchen at La Panarda.

La Panarda references the multi-course feast inspired by Italian folklore and the story of a young mother whose baby is snatched from its crib by a wolf while she’s fetching water. As the mother prays to St. Anthony of Abate, the wolf suddenly releases the child and runs off. The mother takes this as a sign a miracle has occurred and throws an elaborate feast, which is now celebrated annually throughout Italy’s Abruzzo region and often lasts until dawn.

Berkshire smoked pork cheek carbonara with black in pasta from La Panarda in Atlanta.
Berkshire smoked pork cheek carbonara with black in pasta.
Josh Swinney
Meatball pomodoro from La Panarda in Atlanta.
Meatball pomodoro.
Josh Swinney

“I have always used my experiences traveling the globe as inspiration for my approach to cooking. This concept will be no different,” VanTrece told Eater in February of the new restaurant. She lived in Italy and spent time in Tuscany and the coastal city of Pescara.

Look for Italian dishes at La Panarda to feature the Southern twists for which VanTrece is known, including oysters arancini with a pink peppercorn remoulade, marinated seafood salad with cornbread biscotti, and eggplant and fried green tomato parmesan with lemon ricotta drizzled in aged balsamic dressing.

Bella Bellissima cocktail with a lemon twist in a cocktail coup glass from La Panarda in Atlanta.
Bella Bellissima.
Josh Swinney

An ossobucco lamb shank sits atop polenta with a wild mushroom and spring pea compote and the Berkshire smoked pork cheek carbonara is tossed in black ink pasta. Expect daily specials, too, like a flatbread pizza of the day, as well the option to order a seven-course prix-fixe menu.

Dessert includes panettone bread pudding, cognac tiramisu, and Georgia peach crostata with mascarpone whip. VanTrece’s daughter, Kursten Berry, serves as beverage director, and her wife, Lorraine Lane, oversees the wine at La Panarda.

VanTrece, who was named a 2023 semifinalist for best chef Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, suddenly closed Serenidad in February, just shy of five months after opening the restaurant in Cascade Heights. She said at the time that the closure came down to impending competition from similar restaurants to Serenidad opening in the neighborhood over the coming months. “Significant plumbing repairs” needed at the restaurant also factored into the decision to close.

Check out the menu for La Panarda below:

Opening May 12. Hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

La Panarda, 2317 Cascade Road. Atlanta.