Tampa >Food & Dining > Bella's Italian Cafe
1413 S Howard Ave Ste 101, Tampa, FL | Directions 3360627.928716 -82.483378
Mon-Wed 11:30am-11:30pm; Thurs 11:30am-12:30am; Fri 11:30am-1:30am; Sat 4pm-1:30am; Sun 4-11:30pm
Neighborhoods: Bayshore Gardens, Southwest
The place to celebrate or bring your first date – We love the food. The late night pizza menu is great when you are out late at the bars on Howard Avenue.
I love the famous chopped salad on the square plate. Tasty! My favorite dish is the Pollo Milano which has the touch of balsamic vinegar to spice things up. Yum. It has a terrific wine list and an extensive menu that makes everyone happy particularly with the create your own pasta and sauce section. My family sees Bella's as our go-to restaurant for special events like birthdays and celebrations. My sister's husband brought her here the night he proposed. It's a special place in the heart of South Tampa.
Late night Bella's happy hour is where it's at! – I've never been impressed by the entrees here, but they have a nice late night happy hour that starts at 11pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. They have 2 for 1 all drinks including top shelf liquors, and house wine, half price appetizers, pizzas, and desserts. I sometimes go there for late night dessert only and order the tre brulee, 3 little creme brulees in espresso cups, great to share. The pizzas are thin and baked on a stone, so they are crispy. I have gotten used to the crust, although some may find it bland, it might need salt, but you can add some if you think so.
This is Italian? – After all these years I finally went to Bellas. What a mistake. If this is Italian food I have no idea where they got their recipes from. The chopped salad was boring,the dressing had no taste and I could have made it at home in my sleep. Chicken piccata was one chicken breats cut in 1/2 with no garnish on the plate and a small monkey dish of steamed brocolli with nothing on it for like $16.99. The menu online says 2 chicken breasts and if that was 2 then the chicken must have been starved. The mussels were good nice and big with a very good broth and that was the best thing. We also had Chicken Parmigiana. It was the most unispired Parm I've ever seen or tasted. The marinara was right out of a tomato can.Big chuncks with no seasoning. The presentation was horrible. The calamari was ok but we did use the broth from the mussels to dip in becasue the marinara was so disgusting. The pasta figioli was uninspired.
So out of 6 items only the appetizers were tolerable. I was surprised though that on a Thursday night with a restaurant recession going on that they did have a pretty decent crowd. I love Italian restaurants especially red sauce restaurants but this one really doesn't make it. If it was my place I'd fire the chef and get one that know's a few basics about Italian food. The waiter was fine the food was not.
I'd much rater go to (cough) Maggiones, which is a chain, and I hate chains but they at least they know how to make a basic marinara and a good chopped salad. Really disappointing that we can't have a good local Italian restaurant here in Tampa especially since we have so many Italians!!
The beer was a bargin the food is a disaster!! Get a new Chef!!!
Avoid like the plague – The service is friendly (if you are single and buying expensive drinks at the bar). If you are bringing children, forget it! The Food - can it get worse. The Price for this poor excuse of a meal -exorbitant. How this place stays in business escapes the imagination - except that it is a testimony to the fact that people in Tampa Bay are desperate for a place to enjoy a meal. We will never go back!!!
Bad Italian!! – This place is disgusting. Let's start with the appitizers. Spicy crab dip was niether spicy or crab. It was mayonaise. As far as the entrees, how can you screw up pesto sauce or garlic and olive oil? Well, they did, big time. The linguine with pesto was like a soup. It tasted like a Knorrs package mix. The pasta is supposed to be home made, no way. The angel hair with garlic and olive oil was just as bad. I mean, it doesn't get any more simple, right? Wrong!! It was mushy and there was no garlic, and it was definetly not good extra virgin olive oil. This is not Italian!!!!
Wish it was better – Bella's boasts a great location, late hours, reasonable prices, plenty of parking, what's not to love? Well for starters... the food. I keep going back in the hopes of finding just one perfect dish that will make up for the mostly mediocre offerings. Alas, it hasn't happened yet. Instead I've gotten cold lasagna, a sickeningly wet stuffed portabella mushroom, cardboard crusted pizza, oversalted & overdone chicken and plenty of other disappointments. My hope is that the kitchen has a major overhaul because this could be a top local spot, but it's far from it now.
Consistently horrible customer service – We used to frequent Bella's, but the past three visits were not good experiences. If anyone has ever noticed, the floors leading to the restrooms are always slippery. I am always very careful but one time I slipped and fell hard. I was bruised for weeks and after writing a letter to Bella's, I received no response. The time I went after that, I had a party of 10. They would not let me make a reservation or call ahead to leave my name. Both the hostess and manager were extremely rude and did not try to accomodate. Safe to say I was very embarrassed in front of my out of town guests. The last and final time I visited Bella's (against my wishes), we were a party of 8. We left our name on the list and waited for over an hour. My husband went to the hostess who said we were the next large party to be seated. Next thing we knew a party of 11 was being seated in front of us. My husband spoke to the hostess and manager and was bascially teamed up on by four people. I could not believe how rude the manager was. I will absolutley, never, ever go back to that restaurant. Oh yeah, and the poor guy sitting next to us at the bar had to get up and get his own bread basket. This place is ridiculous.
Chiao Bella's – staff & service were friendly & pleasant without being overbearing. Ambience was nice. The place was crowded enough without being stuffed in like sardines. parking, no big deal. House wine, both red & white, very palatable.
We had the penne with tomato basil & side salad &Veal Piccata with angel hair. Veal was excellent with a delicate sauce, not too many capers.
Minor thing, we had to ask for bread. It was brought promptly, but with foil wrapped, cold butter pats. Would've preferred soft butter or extra virgin olive oil for dipping.
angel hair was kind of in clump, but not gummy. fluffed it up before allowing the waiter to grate parmesan.
Dessert : good coffee & Sambucca.
We are picky eaters. If food was lousy, I'd have sent it back.
had a nice time & pleasant meal. I'll visit again when in the SoHo hood.
Best eating to all.
Does anyone know good italian food? – I was told to try this place when I first moved here from Boston. I am Italian and a decent cook. I couldn't believe when my overcooked pasta showed up in a puddle of watery sauce. Hello - drain the pasta first. And don't serve it like soup. I've never eaten at the Olive Garden so I can't make that comparison but this was really bad Italian food. With so many other good Italian Restaurants in Tampa, look elsewhere...
A great value – While I am no food critic, I find the menu at Bella's to be very diverse and beyond reasonably priced. While the staff could use some more congeniality, overall I have no complains. If only my diet would allow me to visit more often.
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