Orange, NJ 07050
- Cost: $$$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: Full Bar
- Parking: Private Lot
August 16, 2012
I’ve been wanting to try this place for a while. From the outside, Bella Italia looks like a classic Jersey red sauce joint. It sits alone on a commercial strip of Central Avenue, a stucco-walled building with few windows and a large private parking lot.
When my wife and I finally visited on a recent Friday night, the spacious dining room inside surprised us. Decorated in elaborate Italian-American style, Bella Italia must cater to private events, with a full bar and a few different rooms. There seemed to be some sort of high school reunion filling two large tables – men at one, women at the other. Our arrival lowered the average diner’s age by at least a decade, or two. Our enthusiastic server immediately noted, “You’re new here.”
Atmosphere aside, the food we tried was pretty good. The homemade gnocchi and fresh cavatelli (“gavadeel“) are worth a visit. I ordered the cavatelli with shrimp fra diavalo. It was served extra spicy at my request. The kitchen is happy to mix and match pastas, sauces and entrees from the menu. A daily special appetizer – asparagus and a portobello mushroom with red peppers and gorgonzola – was unique, mainly due to the cheese. Another special, the stuffed mushrooms, were underseasoned.
Stick with the fresh pastas and you can eat well. The food is not cheap, but the portions are large. Clearing the table, our server congratulated me. “No one usually finishes their entree,” she said.