Bella Vista: a hidden gem in southwest Oklahoma City
This one’s a “must try.” In fact, you may want to stop reading right now and make your way to Bella Vista. Alright, I’m getting a little carried away, but I just get so excited whenever I find a new “hidden gem” to share with you. I have to thank a friend at my workplace for recommending Bella Vista. I had never heard of it before, but I know I’ll be going back soon.
Bella Vista is a small, family-owned, family-run Italian restaurant in Southwest Oklahoma City. It is humble, casual, and the food is incredibly fresh. They claim that everything is hand-made daily, and I believe it. They have a special olive oil bottled for them from Vasiliko Di Kalamata (I don’t know where that is, but it sounds impressive). They bake their own bread. Every sauce is cooked fresh each day. This is Italian comfort-food and I have not experienced anything else like it in Oklahoma City.
The place is very casual. Come in jeans, shorts, or whatever you like. From the outside, the building doesn’t look much like a restaurant. Inside, they have made an effort to add some Mediterranean ambiance, but it’s definitely nothing to write home about. Yet, it’s comfortable and warm.
The food is what I would imagine home-cooking is like in Italy. It’s nothing fancy, but it is so extremely fresh and flavorful. I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs ($8.95 at dinner). It’s common, I know, but I really like to judge any Italian place by this staple because you can tell so much from the way they handle their marinara sauce. I also ordered a dinner salad ($1.25 extra with a dinner) with homemade Italian dressing.
The salad dressing was absolutely perfect. Whatever special olive oil they claim to use was extremely effective. The dressing was so light, yet with a great mix of spices and some Parmesan cheese mixed throughout. Though the salad itself could have used a little more interest (it was mostly iceberg and a couple of tomato / cucumber slices), it pretty much just serves as a canvas for the dressing, so perhaps plain is better to really let the dressing stand out.
After that, my pasta came out. A very plain-looking plate with a heap of noodles covered edge to edge with sauce and two meatballs sitting on the side. When they placed it in front of me, I was overwhelmed with the aroma of fresh vegetables from the sauce. Now, the sauce was completely smooth, but you could still smell every bit of produce that went into it. It was unbelievable. Not sweet and overly heavy like a lot of commercial sauces. This is so light and so fresh. I can hardly describe it.
They say the meatballs are made fresh each day and slow-cooked for four hours. They were so tender and smooth. Again, nothing fancy, just basic Italian food done extremely well. I could eat it at least once a week, I think. Too bad it’s not closer to my office.
At lunch, they offer a special. For $6.95, you can choose from any of their basic pastas such as spaghetti alla marinara, arrabiata, bolognese … etc., or other favorites like baked ziti, manicotti, lasagna, eggplant parmigiano, or chicken alla parmigiano. The price of lunch includes a salad and their homemade bread. I consider this a tremendous value and I wish I had the time to get down there for lunch more often.
I have heard that if they get crowded at lunch, the food can take a while to come out. I didn’t experience this at dinner, but thought I’d pass it along. One thing my friend recommended is to call ahead at lunch time and they will start preparing your order in advance. I may have to try that some time as the drive, for me, would take up a good chunk of my lunch hour.
The menu has even more to offer than I’ve mentioned here. There is a large selection of appetizers, salads, soups, pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, and specialty dishes like chicken picata, marsala, scaloppini and a host of other specialty sauces. With so much to try and food that is so fresh and fabulous, I look forward to becoming a regular here.
I hope you’ll give Bella Vista a try soon. It’s local, unique, and very, very good. Let me know what you think in the comments.