If location is the supposedly most important element to opening a new restaurant, the owners of the new pizza joint at Villa Place, Bella Napoli, have boldly chosen to ignore that chapter in the restaurateurs’ manual. Despite the fact that it is a bit hidden in the middle of a courtyard in the Edgehill Village boutique marketplace, Bella Napoli is managing to attract its own clientele. Neighbor Taco Mamacita has made a good run in Edgehill Village, and hopefully Bella Napoli will only increase the traffic for all the tenants.
Fortunately, Bella Napoli has enough to offer on its own to encourage the crowds that are already finding their way off 21st Avenue to Edgehill to Villa Place and finally to the recesses of the old White Way Cleaners compound to discover the charms of this fun Neapolitan pizza eatery. Created by the same team that runs Valentino’s Italian Restaurant in Midtown, Bella Napoli aims to be the sort of funky neighborhood joint that Hillsboro Villagers have been clamoring for years to find.
On a recent visit on a warm summer evening, I encountered tables full of families enjoying selections from the fairly exhaustive pizza menu while listening to the delightfully tacky tinklings of a Billy Joel wannabe pianist playing for tips in the courtyard. Other diners took advantage of the affordable wine list and the fact that they could still smoke a cigarette outside without offending fellow patrons. In fact, the atmosphere was so congenial that no one was sitting inside the three attractive dining rooms, even though it was a bit sticky that evening.
That meant they missed out on the show that I made a special point of taking in. I love to watch the process of the Neapolitan pizza making. With the potential of a bad Lucille Ball episode, the process usually allows less than two minutes to get the pizzas in and out of the infernal oven. Prep chefs have to work with great precision to toss the dough, add the toppings and get the pizza in the queue in time for baking.
The menu offers about 14 different options for pizzas in both red sauce and bianco versions, along with several pasta dishes and salads. On our single visit, we were able to sample only one pizza, but the one titled Italia was excellent, with prosciutto cotto, salami, artichokes, black olives and mushrooms. If you get the chance to go back and eat your way through the rest of the menu before we do, as always, please report back here.
Bella Napoli Pizzeria
1200 Villa Place, Suite 206