Vic Ciulla and John Weithas, two genial longtime Pasadenans who used to run Twin Palms, own this white-tiled, high-ceilinged Italian deli, which has successfully filled Pasadena’s considerable need for upscale Italian takeout and café food with easy parking. Order your custom salad or superb panini or sub-style sandwich and snag a tall table inside or a quieter table on the covered patio, and if you’ve lived in Pasadena for a while, be prepared to run into people you know from work or the soccer sidelines. After lunch, clever people with deep pockets (the food ain’t cheap) pick up food for dinner later: excellent lasagnes, grilled lamb chops, chicken piccata, roasted vegetables and the best eggplant caponata for miles around. You’ll find tasty baked goods for dessert, too, and beautiful picnic boxes for the outdoor-concert season. Now that Porta Via has wine and beer, the patio has become even more appealing in the early evening; we’re hopeful that they’ll add dinner hours in the coming months.
1 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, 626.793.9000, portaviafoods.com, Italian. B, L & early D daily. Beer & wine. AE, MC, V. $$