By Marianne Weaver
Bella Vita Italian Restaurant is located on Liberia Avenue surrounded by a cluster of fast-food and chain restaurants but make no mistake: This restaurant is one of a kind.
“We pride in our great taste and personal customer service,” said Alp Oksuz, president, CEO and general manager. “We pride in being a family-owned business. We pride in providing fresh, daily and homemade food for our customers.”
Nathan Blue, Manassas, spotted the restaurant while driving down Liberia and decided to give it a try. Now he’s a returning customer.
“Luckily, I live in Manassas and don’t have to drive far to get to Bella Vita, but we do pass by several other Italian restaurants to get to Bella Vita,” he said. “Everything we have eaten at Bella Vita has been delicious. It all starts with the homemade garlic butter rolls but we have tried pizza, calzones and pasta dishes. My favorite thing is probably the calzone, although I cannot pick a favorite one, I may lean toward the spinach and cheese.”
Bella Vita opened its doors Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009.
“Having done some research in the area and realizing the rapid development and seeing the big business chains coming to this area, we thought that this would be a good opportunity to start business in Manassas,” said Oksuz. “The name was to be Dolce Vita, but because of another existing Dolce Vita in Fairfax, we came up with Bella Vita, which means ‘beautiful life’ in Italian.”
He said the menu not only features classic Italian cuisine, but “We aim to cover everyone’s cravings,” he said. “By doing so, we try not to give any single customer any reason to go to any other restaurant, which means if they ask for something other than pasta, we are able to offer those others on the menu.”
Sam Maddalena, Manassas, said he and his wife have enjoyed many meals at Bella Vita
“My wife and I prefer to support small businesses, so we were looking for an Italian restaurant and found Bella Vita,” he said. “We have had everything from pizza to subs, calamari and pretty much every entree on their menu. The food is always great and so is the service.”
Oksuz said some of the most popular items on the menu are the lobster and crab ravioli, calamari fritti, chicken dolce vita, meat lasagna, Greek spaghetti, toasted almond cake and tiramisu. “Definitely try our famous garlic rolls first,” he said. “Then penne alla vodka, mussels, calamari, wedge salad and chicken
caesar. And don’t leave before you taste our homemade desserts.”
He said his personal favorites are the cheese pizza, meat lasagna, chicken parmesan, Greek spaghetti, penne alla vodka and fusilli quattro formaggi.
“You have to try the rolls, they come out hot and yummy,” said Phyllis Trouard, Prince William. “My Italian neighbor introduced me to Bella Vita years ago when I first moved here. I thought since an older/traditional Italian said it was good food, it had to be. She was right. The food is fresh, made to order, not made in bulk like other places. They have everything from sandwiches for lunch to an amazing Salmon Josefina for supper.”
The staff prepares all meals from scratch. Oksuz said he sources food locally whenever possible: U.S. Foods in Manassas, Performance Food Service in Richmond, Virginia, and Capital Seaboard in Howard County, Maryland.
“If you see a chain restaurant, you will also see the food truck deliver loads of frozen food,” said Trouard. “At Bella Vita, you see the fresh food being delivered, and, if you go by in the morning, they are in there making dishes from scratch for the day.”
That’s the impression Oksuz said he wants to leave on all customers. He said Bella Vita sets itself apart from the chains because of the great tasting food, excellent personal service, fresh, homemade food, ambiance and atmosphere.
“Bella Vita is like a gathering ground for our clients as their ‘second sweet home, second sweet dining room’ where they have their food, drinks and conversation,” he said.
In addition to dine-in service, Bella Vita offers catering, delivery and pick-up services. They also host parties and group meetings.
“Bella Vita stands out from the chains because of the hometown service. The friendliness and willingness to do whatever they can to make you and your party happy is what they strive to do and it shows,” said Blue. “For my wife’s birthday dinner party, the service from the manager and our server was what made the meal. The manager was very friendly from the beginning and very accommodating to our large party of 20 people at the last minute. The server was very efficient and helpful.”
Bella Vita is located at 9675 Liberia Avenue, Manassas. For more information, visit their website at bellavitaonline.com.
Marianne E. Weaver ([email protected]) is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and an MJ from Temple University.