Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cafe Bella

Do you ever hear about a restaurant, call it by that name, get used to that name, then later realize that isn't the actual name? An old guy I used to know called a favorite mexican restaurant Mexican Annie's. It's name was La Mexicana. I call my favorite chinese restaurant "Golden Pagoda". I still don't know what the actual name is. Turns out, Cafe Bella actually means "Bella Pasta and Pizza" in Fort Worth. So keep that in mind when reading this blog. I've already messed up Chadra Mezza.

Anyways, Cafe Bella is an Italian/Albanian (known as Italbanian since the Yalta Conference) restaurant located south of TCU that could possibly be the greatest little strip joint Italbanian restaurant in all of Fort Worth Proper. "WOW!!" you're thinking. "What a bold statement." That's right. So bold it didn't even need to be bolded.

You know how you go to some places and they expect you to pay for certain things? Like when you go to restaurants they want you to pay for your food and drinks. Well what if you didn't have to pay for part of that? Your meal would be cheaper. Much cheaper. Unfortunately, not all restaurant bathrooms have windows and sometimes your wife is too slow to outrun the waiter, so you normally pay. Well, at Cafe Bella, worry not. Your meal can be cheap and you can walk out the front door. Or stumble.

Cafe Bella is BYOH. That's right. Bring Your Own Hooch. Some of you more intelligently minded people are going to point out that you have to pay for the hooch at some point. Some of you are also apparently less adept at breaking into your neighbors' houses and stealing their hooch. To each their own ... snobby bastions of morality. The rest of you, like me, realize that the cost of a glass of wine at a restaurant is usually the retail cost of the bottle. Therefore, at a BYOH place, for the cost of one glass of wine, two people can guzzle a bottle. And I don't actually mean guzzle. Cafe Bella is classier than that. Please use their glasses.

If you haven't been, you're missing out. The prices are cheap, the atmosphere is casual but refined and the food is terrific. Everybody I know that goes here, goes often and goes with friends. Why? Well, keep reading and go for yourself and you'll see.

First the food. I have yet to have a bad meal here. From the basic pasta dishes with meatballs, to the baked dishes, to the chicken parmigiana. Everything is delicious. I have not had the pizzas yet but they are reportedly worth trying. My personal opinion is that the sauce makes these dishes so great. I think its one of the better marinara sauces here in the Fort. I have confirmed with the owner that licking your plate is not only acceptable but expected in Italbania.

Another significant but often overlooked aspect are the rolls that come when you sit down. Not the "I've eaten too much pasta over the past four weeks and now my shirt can't cover my" rolls. But those do come later. I'm talking about the hot, greasy rolls that come out when the waiter decides you are worthy of the Cafe Bella treats. I always order extra rolls when my food comes. The rolls dipped in their marinara will tempt you to stray from your spouse. But don't try it. The rolls wont still love you after you have rolls of your own.

If you go at lunch, they have a large selection of lunch options that come with a salad and are very affordable. If you go at dinner time, the basic pastas on the left side are sufficient for a meal and also very affordable.

As for the atmosphere, its nice. The restaurant has two main rooms and a patio. The tables inside are all easily movable so you can combine them for large groups. You don't have to dress up to go, but it seems like a place where you wont see a lot of "Life's a Garden, Dig It" sleeveless t-shirts. There is enough noise that you can talk without feeling like everybody can hear you, but its not so loud that you can't hear across the table. It's a good date place, good meet up with friends place and a good "sneak off from your spouse to spend some time with your marinaramour".

Give Cafe Bella a shot and let me know what you think. If you've been going for awhile now, what do you suggest trying?

Don't forget your wine and please don't judge me when I'm respecting the Italbanian tradition of licking my plate.

Cafe Bella "Bella Pasta and Pizza" is located at 3548 S. Hills Avenue. It's on the south east corner of the shopping center with the City Market.

Cafe Bella on Urbanspoon

20 comments:

Clay Aaron Clifton said...

This might be my favorite place to eat in FW. AND now you've gone and runied it! I never have to wait for a table... hope that doesnt change!

Excellent write up though... they need the kuddos. Glad they will get some advertising. In my opinion, the best BYOB in FW.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

I had an internal conflict before writing this but then I remembered that I chastised people for not sharing with me the greatness that is ONG.

It is my duty, nay, my birthright... nay, my duty, to tell of the greatness that is Cafe Bella.

Thanks for reading.

CounselorFrog said...

The baked ziti, one of the best things I have ever tried....ever

Ashley N said...

I knew this place as Sal's for the longest time because my friends that introduced me to it called it that for the owner's name. Great place! I'm trying to think of my favorite dish there but can't remember the name...I know it has a pink sauce if that helps :)

Lauren said...

Ashley N may be thinking of the Tortellini Michelangelo. So so good. Last time I changed it up and went with the Eggplant Parmigiana. Also delicious!

Ashley N said...

That's it Lauren! Thanks!

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

I haven't had the Tortellini Michelangelo but I've heard good things about it. That might be something I get next time.

Lauren, since you're the pro, which is better, the Tortellini Michelangelo or Eggplant Parmigiana?

Lauren said...

Definitely the Tortellini Michelangelo! If I end up waiting for a table next time I'm there...I might have issues with you FWHITW.

Jeremy said...

Great review! I've always loved this place too. You summed it up, great food and for a great price! Oh and the BYOB always helps...

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

It's always difficult to share some of the great places around here because I know the millions of readers of FWHITW will instantly flock there. But with the increased recognition, more places can survive and more places will open, providing us with more hole in the walls (and unpaid job security for me).

Plus, you can always look at the other people with a "I was here before it was cool" glare, loudly order "the usual" and then laugh at people who have to actually read a menu to know what they want.

Nick said...

My wife and I eat here at least once a week and have never been dissatisfied with any aspect of the Cafe Bella experience. The wait staff and owner know us by first name and each time we go they know what we want before we even order. Long live Cafe Bella!! How about opening a near west-side location...???

Carrie Leigh Jakus said...

Awesome write up on what is also one of my favorites. Props too for the shout out about ONG, I think it's my life's mission to convince my friends that they have the best breakfast in town. Anyway, I agree with Lauren that the tortellini is the way to go, you won't be sorry. Thanks for honoring these little places we all love so much, just start telling them they have to hold tables for us true hole in the wall fans!

Pink PeaPod said...

I LOVE your blog. My husband and I have decided to use your blog to eat our way thru our fair city and started with Paco & Johns...I have even posted you twice to my Facebook page (and I have about 1800 friends on there) for EVERYONE to discover your greatness...Keep it up and thanks for being so cool to share your finds...Have you been to Margie's Italian? It simply rocks too!

Im an event planner, so I really dig knowing the know. You help me do that. You rock Mucho!
MWW

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Nick, it sounds like you've got the owner's ear so would you mind getting to work on the west side location?

Are we going to need to start a FWHITW registration that can be used for seating? I'm not sure any restaurants would recognize the authority of the registration cards.

Pink PeaPod, thats a noble goal and I wish you and your husband the best. I will warn you that many places are not open at typical times so good luck. I have reviewed Margie's and if you type "Margie" into the search box on the main page it should provide you with that review.

Thanks for reading.

mercedesman said...

You Know...I kinda like this blog of yours and the Cafe Bella is something I'll try in the future. Do they have pizza? I like good Pizza!

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Thanks Mercedesman, thats kind of nice of you to say. They have pizza but I haven't had it. I've heard its good but I wont know until my next visit.

Matt said...

The Tortellini Michelangelo is the best thing on the menu in my opinion. My family calls it the Italian Dairy Queen as it used to be a dairy queen prior. All of our family gatherings take place here or not at all.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Matt, I like your style. I would take it one step further though. Tell family members that don't attend, that they're no longer welcome in the family. If they don't Bella, the don't Belong.

If that becomes their slogan, just remember you heard it here first.

Damian said...

One of our favorites and frequents! Say hello to Sal the owner and Elly the waitress. We get something not on the menu called chicken florentini. It is chicken over pasta with a pink sauce and spinach with melted cheese. Yummy!

Jessica said...

Having lived in Albania I am super excited to try this restaurant! Please tell me that have authentic Albanian pizza?!