The Great Pizza Quest
The last time I was at Bella Vista I was in my mid-teens and went with my aunt. One recent Friday, my wife and I spontaneously decided to have a little jaunt over to the restorante to share a pizza for supper - and the place looks exactly as I remember it.
The interior decoration gives the restaurant a lot of character. Giant hand-painted murals adorn the walls (or are the walls), which themselves are vibrantly coloured hues of orange and blue. Golden wall sconces light the room between orangey-red pillars where there is no mural hung. Little wooden tables line the outter walls of the second-level dining area while the main-level bar is a dim blue, with a flat-screen TV playing sports in the corner. Bella Vista hasn't changed in fifteen years, and I wondered, sitting there, for how long it's been in the same arrangement.
The service, while not very fast (but neither terribly slow), was friendly, even if our server seemed somewhat distracted. We ordered the Bella Vista pizza, which came topped with bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers. The crust all the toppings were piled upon was reminiscent of our homemade dough in both taste and thickness - only theirs was slightly more chewy and dense. It held its own in the overall taste of the pizza with a slight focaccia-flavouring: hints of olive oil and herbs. The pizza might as well have been a bacon pizza though as the flavour of the bacon was so overwhelming that the rest of the toppings went barely noticed. Normally, this would have been okay, but the bacon's flavour itself was a bit off-putting; I'm not sure what it was about it - at first I thought perhaps it was such low quality that it had a weird taste, but I later found out that many of the ingredients are either local or in-house made. Thus, perhaps it was simply so fresh it was unusual. Either way, there was too much bacon.
One Friday later, we again spontaneously decided to order pizza from Bella Vista, but try something else - to give it another shot to impress us. I'd read reviews about how the sicillion from here was amazing, so we ordered that topped with mushrooms, peppers and pepperoni. This pizza was definitely worth the second attempt. The green peppers were tender, flavourful, and generously given. The mushrooms were cut into thin, small chunks and had a mild, subtle taste to them. The pepperoni was delicious, and from what I could tell was one of the sausages made on location. It could've used a bit more crisping, but it was well-cooked and well-distributed. The mozarella cheese was well balanced in proportion to the toppings, and all the ingredients blended together professionally. Yet, the additional toppings that constituted the sicillion style overwhelmingly stole the show. Basil, oregano, olive oil, parmesan and what seemed to be four heads of garlic burst into your mouth with every thick bite of tender yet chewy, dense yet puffy crust. It was a powerful punch that filled your mouth with food and flavour, and lingered for hours after you'd finished.
Part of the attraction of Bella Vista is the quaintness of its interior. Even the live music playing in the bar that one Friday we dined-in was an enjoyable character trait - something different at the least. Sitting inside I got a sense of community - a sense that the people eating around us were in fact regulars. Living so close, I've played with the thought of making this a go-to pizza place. Unfortunately, we've nearly exhausted their selection of specialty pizzas with the two we've already tried and both, while good (and exploding with some sort of flavour), were not exceptional. I'll definitely have to try the two-topping pizza first. And of course make more money.
Carbone Coal Fired Pizza
Diana's Gourmet Pizza
La Salle River Inn
Lady of the Lake