Date night! Part 1: Cafe Bella
Saturday night was full of firsts: new restaurant, new theater experience, and it all came to us by WOM (word of mouth).
The first time I heard about Cafe Bella was from a review on Betty’s Blog. The pictures wowed me. So Saturday night we put the top down and drove up to Cafe Bella.
We walked in and were directed to grab a soda before going back to the patio. I was taken aback, I must admit. No red wine?! Next time I’ll remember to bring my own sprits!
Once on the patio Vince (Withers, owner and operator along with Emily Pearson) had a seat and described what was on the menu. That’s right, no menu. We drooled as he described his lentil soup and carrot and ginger soup, a simple fresh salads, eggplant bruschetta, eggplant parm and chicken parm, and meatballs. We just nodded and said, “yes!” He told us he’ll make up a big plate of everything.
The patio area holds about six tables but it also serves as a sort of greenhouse for dozens of little pots. Vince explains that he’s growing produce that will feed families of a nearby food pantry. He said some day he would like to serve what he grows at the restaurant too.
We started off with soup. I had the lentil (which was hearty and yet light, just like my mom’s) and my bf had the carrot and ginger (the brightest orange color you could imagine. It had a sweet taste with undertones of orange, just like Vince described; delicious!). A big fresh salad soon follows, with two pieces of eggplant bruschetta. I thought they were both amazing, the eggplant especially. It was slightly sweet without the toughness I sometimes associate with eggplant.
The grand finale: a platter of chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan and meatballs with tomato sauce over a bed of spaghetti. No oil or grease to speak of. Just simple, good food. We devoured it. The chicken was crisp, the eggplant was tender and sweet, the meatballs were great and the tomato sauce was light with big chunks of tomatoes and onions.
As we slurped the last of the tomato sauce I talked to Vince a bit. Turns out Cafe Bella has been a fixture in the neighborhood for years. The name stayed the same while the owners changed. First it was a New York style deli; then Carlo bought the place. For three years Vince visited the cafe and Carlo tried to convince him to buy it. Vince eventually decided maybe it was time, after all his house was always full of friends who loved his meals.
When you go to Cafe Bella Vince tries to always have eggplant parm, chicken parm, and meatballs every night. He also offers a fish dish, a pasta dish and a soup, at the very least. He said to me something like (and I’m totally paraphrasing here) “I’ll tell you what ingredients I have and what thirty dishes I can make from them and we can figure out what you want to have for dinner.”
To me Vince seems to have a passion for food but also for feeding. I think he enjoyed describing what he was creating in the kitchen and it’s obvious his skills and passion are immense. But he also wants to feed others. It’s evident by the fact that he grows produce to feed those at the food pantry but also in the fact that there are no set prices for his meals. And when he gives you what he thinks is a fair price, he looks at you as if to say, “do you think that’s fair?” Our dinner was only thirty dollars and well worth it!
I’m totally impressed by the food and service but also by Vince and the others that run Cafe Bella. I highly suggest that you see for yourself! You may see us there.
If you go, and you should:
2593 North High Street, Cbus, 43202
*free parking behind Café Bella!