Toronto-based Porta, which offers frozen, ready-to-cook Italian food, has raised a $10.5-million CAD Series A funding round.
Meaning “door” or “carry” in Italian, Porta said its mission is to bring the taste of Italy to people’s homes with minimal preparation and clean-up.
Porta said it delivered more than 500,000 meals in its first year of business.
Porta was created as a new venture in 2021 by Terroni, an Italian restaurant brand founded in Canada, and venture capital fund BrandProject. Both Terroni (through its parent company Gruppo Terroni) and BrandProject invested in this round, along with the Toskan Family Trust.
Like other restaurants and companies in the space, Terroni and its group of companies had to shut its doors during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In that time, Terroni founder Cosimo Mammoliti said the company learned a lot about its “customers’ desire to replicate parts of the dining out experience in their own homes.”
“Even though they couldn’t visit us in our eateries, they still wanted restaurant-quality Italian food made with real ingredients. So, I challenged our chefs to start thinking about how we could bring restaurant-quality Italian food to more tables across the country,” Mammoliti said.
Then came Porta, a “curated” food subscription service that has since added multiple distribution channels for its frozen Italian meals.
“Our business continues to evolve into an omni-channel consumer packaged goods company,” said Jason Cassidy, founding general manager at Porta.
“This funding will allow us to continue to innovate on new product categories, expand into new markets, and invest in strategic shopper and trade marketing initiatives,” Cassidy added.
Porta started out with a menu of eight pizzas, eight pastas, and four options for dessert. It has since expanded to over 30 menu items, including rotating seasonal dishes, a lineup of risottos, and four breakfast pastries.
In the first year of its operations, Porta said it delivered more than 500,000 meals to homes in Ontario. As of July this year, the startup said its total number of deliveries has gone up to 700,000.
With its sights set on a national expansion, Porta secured a dedicated production plant in Toronto in 2022 to keep up with demand.
Porta’s packaged offerings are also available at nearly 100 grocery stores in Ontario, including Longo’s, Battaglia’s, Harvest Wagon, Lady York Foods, Creeds, and Aisle24.
As Porta pursues further growth in its frozen Italian meals, it could fill the pizza-shaped hole left by fellow Toronto company General Assembly, which specializes in pizzas.
General Assembly no longer offers frozen, ready-to-cook pizzas, after selling that part of its business to Piano Piano, a private Italian restaurant also located in Toronto.
This past April, General Assembly said it would focus on its restaurants, which it claimed has now fully returned to pre-pandemic performance. General Assembly said the decision to offload its frozen pizza line was also made in part due to a tough fundraising environment for companies.
Featured image courtesy Porta.