Eating Out: Bella’s Boys meals store retains legacy and dishes of their mom’s bistro alive


Bella’s Boys Italian Kitchen and Meals Store
250 Greenbank Rd., Unit 12, 613-695-1900, bellas.ca
Open: Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to six p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to  four p.m., closed Sunday
Costs: pastas $12 to $14, paninis $eight to $11.50, mains $16
Entry: no steps to entrance door

A 12 months in the past, I used to be all set to put in writing a glowing assessment of Bella’s Bistro on Wellington Avenue West, which after 20 years was nonetheless going robust and serving its much-liked and comforting Italian meals to packed homes.

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However the assessment, which might have included particular kudos for chef-owner Raffaela “Bella” Milito’s gnocchi with prosciutto and mushroom cream sauce in addition to her traditional tiramisu, by no means made it into print.

I had missed the memo that Bella’s Bistro wanted to wind down its enterprise. After 23 years, the restaurant closed final Dec. 31, upfront of rental building at Mizrahi Developments’ 1451 Wellington, which someday will go up the place Bella’s stood.

All of that is backstory to a superb lunch I had final week. It consisted of gnocchi with prosciutto and mushroom cream sauce, adopted by a block of tiramisu, all pretty much as good as what I’d had at Bella’s.

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However after all it was. I had simply lunched at Bella’s Boys on Greenbank Street, which is run by Milito’s three sons, Rob, Nick and Andrew.

The Militos opened their eatery, which focuses on take-home meals, catering jobs and eat-in lunches, in early September, not removed from the place they grew up. Their mom herself, who launched her personal restaurant solely after cooking within the 1980s on the Ritz on Elgin Avenue, nonetheless toils away in her boys’ massive open kitchen, as does her husband, Gino.

Rob says that after his mom’s restaurant closed, she “was bored out of her thoughts. She was simply going stir-crazy.

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“That is what they do. That is what they love doing,” he says of his mother and father, who’re of their 70s and work as a lot as they wish to with their sons.

The second era’s enterprise lacks the intimate, old-house ambiance that made Bella’s Bistro date evening central for its regulars. Nevertheless, the Bella’s connection is seen, with the bistro’s entrance door hanging on the meals store’s wall and the signal from outdoors of the bistro, additionally salvaged earlier than it was torn down, mounted above the fridges in the back of the store.

These keepsakes apart, the sons’ place is vibrant and utilitarian, a newly outfitted business kitchen with just some greater than a dozen seats at small tables for its lunch crowd. The Militos and their employees are clad in black ball caps and T-shirts. Whereas dine-in prospects order on the entrance money, their meals, on paper plates, can be dropped at them at their tables.

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On my first few visits to Bella’s Boys, I used to be wowed by its panini sandwiches, which aren’t of the grilled selection however as an alternative are distinguished by completely recent and fluffy rolls that you just wouldn’t wish to spoil by compressing them.

The bread that Bella’s Boys makes use of is from the Bakery, a matter-of-factly named enterprise just a few shops away in the identical Greenbank Street strip mall. These rolls have been excellent for receiving tender, recent meatballs ($eight.50) or hen parm ($9), each bathed in superb purple sauce.


Hen Parm sandwich at Bella’s Boys, pic by Peter Hum

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Veal parm sandwich at Bella’s Boys

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Grilled vegetable sandwich at Bella’s Boys

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At Bella’s Boys, all the things however the bread, Rob stated this week, is constituted of scratch on the premises.

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The kitchen’s pastas have constantly gained me over with their freshness and steadiness of clear, clear flavours.

I’ve all the time opted for stuffed pastas right here, and located the spinach and ricotta manicotti ($14), beef and veal ravioli ($14) and beef and veal cannelloni ($14) to be well-made, toothsome winners that delivered the entire essential comforts.


Manicotti at Bella’s Boys

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Cannelloni at Bella’s Boys

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Relating to lasagna, I’ve one thing approaching a phobia attributable to too many shoddy, self-destructing lasagnas I ate at my college’s cafeteria years in the past. The meat lasagna at Bella’s Boys ($12) eradicated that horrible reminiscence with its tender flat noodles and substantial, zesty, meaty sauce.


Meat lasagna at Bella’s Boys

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Gnocchi ($13) was as recent and tender as anticipated, and its satisfying sauce was sufficiently wealthy and creamy that I used to be scraping each final little bit of it off its paper plate.


Gnocchi with proscuitto and mushroom cream sauce at Bella’s Boys

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All of those pastas have been favourites at Bella’s Bistro, Rob says. The identical goes for the meals store’s two chicken-based foremost programs, he provides. The “hen honey” ($16) was a superbly cooked piece of hen breast served with a creamy honey-mustard sauce of smack-you-in-the-face high quality.


Hen Honey at Bella’s Boys

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There’s a dessert counter beside the money, and its contents additionally forged again to Bella’s Bistro. That tiramisu with all of its parts within the correct proportion and a slight boozy tingle was finest, whereas coconut-y Whats up Dolly bars packed a smaller however sweeter punch.


Tiramisu at Bella’s Boys

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Rob says that when the Mizrahi rental constructing opens, a Bella’s enterprise can be in it, though he can’t say whether or not it is going to be Bella’s Bistro 2.zero, because the developer has talked about, or a take-home store alongside the traces of his Greenbank retailer.

However till Bella’s in some kind returns to Wellington Avenue West, its previous and new followers know that the journey to Greenbank Street can be nicely price it.

phum@postmedia.com
twitter.com/peterhum

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