2023 Hall of Fame award winner

Alisa Barry

Bella Cucina Artful Food
Hall of Fame

Alisa Barry, owner of Bella Cucina in Atlanta, loves pesto. “Pesto was the first product that we introduced in 1994 and remains the foundation of our company almost 30 years later,” she says.

Growing up in a family of nine, Barry enjoyed the family tradition of home-cooked meals. Following junior abroad study in Spain and culinary training in California, she opened a cafe in Atlanta, called the Bella Cucina Café. Barry created a simple menu made with locally sourced ingredients. When her loyal customers kept asking to take home her food, a specialty food business was born.

An Artist with a Strategic Mind

The Bella Cucina product line debuted in 1994 and was introduced to the specialty food industry at the 1995 Summer Fancy Food Show. “We were one of the first companies to direct the conversation to artisan, small batch production, with beautiful packaging,” says Barry, 59. “People first eat with their eyes.”

Initial customers were specialty food retailers and some gift stores. Barry says that they have not moved into supermarkets due to the quality ingredients and small batch production that makes the product “not inexpensive.” Bella Cucina does sell to large specialty accounts, though, including Central Market and Whole Foods.

And there has always been innovation. The company currently markets 40 products, including 12 different pestos such as Kale & Parmesan, Mint & Pistachio, and Sweet Pumpkin. The best seller is Artichoke Lemon. 

Barry considers her company a “lifestyle brand” and sells everything from a Grande Tuscan Grill ($525) to Olive Wood Honey Dippers ($12). In 2017, she opened the Bella Cucina store in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, a 3,000-square-foot shop that sells specialty food along with essentials for the kitchen and home.

“We are looking forward to continued growth and creating new partnerships over the next five years,” says Barry. “The pandemic forced people to reconsider their attitudes toward cooking and eating and many are now making better choices. We plan to be part of that.”