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.