Bella Vista restaurant is an Italian restaurant located at the corner of Wolseley and Maryland. It’s been around for a long time, but recently has undergone an ownership change. The new owner is Ross Jeffers, formerly owner of 1958 Community Cafe.
1958 Community Cafe was a great little cafe on Westminster Avenue. I really liked the place, but it had limited hours and I didn’t get there as often as I would hope to. In the end, 1958 ended up being too small to work out. Fortunately for fans of Ross, his cooking, and his personality, he seems to have landed on his feet at Bella Vista.
Bella Vista Opening Night
My first visit to Bella Vista Italian Restaurant was on Ross’s opening night. The menu that night was limited as you would expect. I chose the sausage and pasta pictured at the top of the post. One of the features of the Bella Vista menu is the entrees all come with salad and a dinner roll. The salad is a nice, light start to the meal.
The dinner also comes with a bun. These are among the largest buns I have been served with any meal. The thing I really like about the bun is that it comes to the table warm.
Dining in the Lounge
The restaurant is divided into two sections. There is an upstairs section to your left as you enter off of Maryland. This is the dining room. To the right is the lounge. The lounge is small and cozy. Although I only recently went to the restaurant for meals, but I did visit the lounge a few years back to listen to the B-Side Apostles.
While Ross is bringing his own style to the restaurant, he is keeping many things the same. One of those things is making sure that there is live music on a regular basis. So far my visits have not been during music nights. I hope to go back some evening to take in some music.
This time around I came in just as the restaurant was opening and so I decided to take a seat in the lounge instead.
This time around I ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo. This is a really rich and creamy version. There is definitely a good quantity of butter and cream in this dish. For this meal I was looking for something a little lighter and therefore this was all that I ordered.
Bella Vista Friday Night Lasagne
As I mentioned earlier, Ross is intending to keep much of the menu the same as it was. One way of doing that is spending time learning under Armando Colisimo, who along with his family, started Bella Vista back in the mid seventies.
One of the signature dishes is the lasagne. So, yesterday I went back to give the lasagne a whirl.
This is one delicious dish. This portion could easily serve two people quite satisfactorily. There is plenty of filling and lots of cheese. I really enjoy that the top layer of cheese is nicely crisped. Then there is a little cheese sprinkled on top of that. I also like the fact that there is sauce swirled around the outside of the lasagne.
I had eaten very little during the day, so even after I ate the lasagne I still had room for dessert. On a previous visit I wanted to try the panna cotta, but it had not had enough time to set. This time around it was set and chilled.
The panna cotta, which comes with a berry compote, granola, chocolate, and caramel sauces is absolutely delightful. The texture is smooth and creamy. No lumps or rough spots at all. This is a dessert that I would order over and over again.
Personal and Homey
As much as I enjoy the food here, the service is even better. Much like 1958, there is a genuine sense of welcome from the staff. My servers have all been attentive and have made sure that things such as water, etc. are looked after during the evening. The only sad thing is that with a bigger location, Ross has to spend more time in the kitchen, and there is not as much chance to interact with him. However, that is a small price to pay for such good food.
One thing I almost forgot about. There is brunch this Sunday. I do not know if this means that there will be Italianate Bennies on the menu, but Brunch is one of the highlights at 1958. Make a reservation if you can.
A little aside, not related to my meal. I grabbed a bus downtown after my meal yesterday, and my bus driver, was quite enthused about the people at Bella Vista. The route he is driving has no restroom spot, and the staff have kindly allowed him to use the restaurants washroom. It seems to me this used to be a fairly common thing, but is not so much any more. So, well done, Bella Vista.
Given that the hours at the restaurant are longer, I will definitely be making return visits. The restaurant is under new ownership, but fortunately, with Ross in charge, it is still in very good hands.