Ciao Bocca is an Italian style cafe located at the Sweet Auburn Curb market on Edgewood Avenue in downtown Atlanta. If you have never been to Sweet Auburn, you must! It is the one of the oldest standing landmarks in Atlanta and a stimulating treat for all of your senses. Inside the market are local vendors selling meat, seafood, produce, baked goods and lunch. Think of it as an international food court where passionate chefs have launched themselves into the business of bringing happiness through food.

Fellow blogger Melissa Crane and I met up for lunch at Ciao Bocca on Thursday to write joint blog posts. While she took these wonderful photos, I chowed down the authentic Italian delicacies for a food review.

Deborah Kudelka who learned cooking from her Italian aunt and traveled to Italy to experience the true flavors, runs Ciao Bocca. She cooks everything using only fresh ingredients and simple recipes. She believes that three ingredients – sun dried tomatoes, capers and olives, are generally enough to season a dish. She uses them to make a fresh tuna salad, using only the finest quality of 100% albacore and pressed sandwiches that take you back to the streets in Rome.

You can tell Chef Deborah is truly passionate about her cooking. She experiments and creates daily specials. If you don’t know what you want from the menu, she will even whip you something of your choice. 

Forget heavy pastas and cheesy sauces, at Ciao Bocca you will only find the authentic food of Italy. Bow tie pasta is tossed with olives, sun dried tomatoes and capers and lightly seasoned with olive oil. The saltiness from the natural ingredients is enough so that you don’t even need to add salt.

Nowhere else in town will you find moist and delicate meatballs with a topping of feta, mascarpone and pimento, served on a fried won ton. Event the grilled cheese is the perfect combination of asiago, provolone and mozzarella pressed into a thinly sliced semolina bread.

Another of Chef Deborah’s favorites is the Italian style BLT made with pancetta, tomatoes and arugula, carefully laid out on fresh baked Ciabatta sourced from the reputable H&F Bread Co.

Ciao Bocca is truly reminds me of the trattorias in Italy where food is more of a craft than a commodity. Every serving is handmade, using only fresh ingredients. The focus is always on highlighting each of the flavors of the ingredients in the dish, even if there are only a few. Chef Deborah has not only done justice to her roots, she has made the pleasures of a far off land available to the busy, hungry people trotting downtown Atlanta at lunch time.

~ Photographs by Melissa Crane. Her food and travel photo blog is dash of East.

Ciao Bocca