When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn NY, one of my best friend's DAD had an Italian "neighborhood restaurant". You went to this "neighborhood" pizzeria, sub shop and pasta heaven because;
You were hungry and past experience told you the food was good;
You felt comfortable there in a friendly environment.
The portions were big, you felt value, you left "full";
The food was fresh, the place was clean;
The aroma was causing your salivary glands into overtime;
It was reasonably priced and you felt worth the price.
Stealthily, after school, I would sneak in the back door with my friend and we would partake of the cooking, like a slice of pizza, till Mom threw us out.
Bella Italia is that kind of local neighborhood restaurant. Sal and his wife have been there for decades, makes all the dishes from scratch, uses the same quality cheese's and meats that meet his standards (much better than the commercial stuff) and the food is cooked to order. It reminds me of my childhood except he doesn't leave the backdoor open.
I have a favorite dish Sal makes me there. Spaghetti, and Sausage, simple enough with red peppers, pepper flakes and fresh garlic tossed and cooked with the sauce instead of the sauce served laying on top. It creates a kind of Fra Diablo heat flavor but richly sweet.
In Italy this is the way pasta is served, sauce cooked with and tossed. It stays hotter longer and the flavor is more integrated with the pasta throughout the dish.
We have been customers there for about twenty-five years and nothing has varied, lots of familiar faces, family run, clean as a whistle and it's my go-to-place when hungry for simple wholesome down to earth Italian food. The girls up front have been there for years and know you after a while when you come in. The food comes out fresh, hot and very aromatic.
No frills, no smoking, clean, family run though mainly a mature crowd,
Their pizza is handmade, no machines, no gimmicks, real cheese, not synthetic and it tastes like pizza not cardboard. The ultimate pizza is their Supreme and it's a meal for three, or two of me. I have to be helped up after because I can't get enough. It's the best I ever had in the Tampa bay area period.
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