Review: Bella’s Italian Cafe, Tampa FL

Given the number of transplanted northeasterners in Florida, it’s not surprising that you can easily find some excellent pizza in the sunshine state. On a Phillies spring training trip to nearby Clearwater, we made a stop in Tampa en route to the airport.

Any “best pizza in Tampa” list contains Bella’s Italian Cafe, located in Hyde Park, a hip part of Tampa featuring a lot of interesting dining spots. We stopped in on a Monday for a late lunch.

This is not just a pizza place, but a full-menu Italian restaurant with a large attractive dining room and bar inside. The kitchen boasts a Neapolitan-style wood-fired dome oven that is visible from the dining area.

We opted to order one personal size pizza (the Americano, featuring pepperoni, just $6.99) and one pasta dish to share.

We had enjoyed a lot of grouper sandwiches in Clearwater Beach (the best one is at Keegan’s in Indian Rocks Beach), so the $11.99 Grouper Rosso was the perfect pasta choice: chunks of spiced grouper sautéed with scallions and mushrooms in a creamy basil-tomato sauce with fresh tomato, tossed with linguine.

Grouper Rosso

A quick note on the pasta: it was delicious, with al dente noodles, a perfectly seasoned sauce, and generous chunks of tender grouper. But our main focus was, of course, the pizza.

The small pie came in an unusual football shape, and was cut into four modest-sized slices. As with every pie, the crust was the defining element. Here, is was thin, crisp, crunchy in parts yet also chewy.

Pizza “Americano”

Underneath, the crust showed some nice browning from that wood-fired oven, and a curious cross pattern that suggests it was …read more

Source:: Pizza Quixote