Bella Via is located between Wheeling and Triadelphia off of I-70 at exit 5. (as of 10/15/2009 don’t try to get to Bella Via from I-70 due to exit construction. Use National Road – 40E) This two story restaurant is right on the corner and is hard to miss. Hungry for pasta we jumped out of the car and I quickly took a picture of the building in the parking lot. At the hostess stand we were ‘greeted’ by the owner (in cook’s apron) and asked if we were taking pictures of his restaurant. I said, “Yes” and he replied that he was going to have to charge me. I asked, “How much?” and after a brief back and forth he told his hostess to hurry up and seat us before we leave. If he only new the around about way we had to drive to get there he would have known we weren’t leaving.
As soon as I was seated I knew I had eaten here seven years earlier. I recognized the dining room dimly lit by yellow and red glass lamps. What I really remember from that visit was the food envy I had. The Ohio County local who brought me here in 2002 had ordered the home-style pasta with meat sauce, and I was pretty sure that’s what I was going order. After briefly reviewing the menu and ordering a bottle of the house Chianti I stayed with my original choice, home-style pasta with meatballs.
My particular pasta dish didn’t come with a side salad so after quizzing the server about the dressings for a minute or two I ordered one. None of the dressings are homemade - not even the Italian! The salads and fried ravioli appetizer arrived quickly. The fried ravioli were a perfect golden brown and the cheese filling was surprisingly spicy. The salads were a mix of iceberg and baby greens with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, white onion and a pile of canned black olives. I sound negative, but I devoured it with a piece of Italian bread.
After a seven year wait I got my long awaited pasta dish. The homemade noodles are about one and half inches long and wider than linguine but thinner than fettuccine. They are tender and support the red sauce beautifully. The meatballs were just OK, but with Italian food, tastes are very subjective. Again I didn’t leave anything on my plate.
Kate provided great service and was very attentive. The photo police checked in on us, too. Bella Via is relaxing and the food is very affordable with my total coming to $16.50 before tip not including wine. I’m going to round up. FOUR FORKS.
Misty Susan says…
Well, Misty has been a little busy lately taking care of sick children with the, ahem, you know…that flu. So I’ll write a few words about her entree.
I can attest to the fact that Misty greatly enjoyed her shrimp stuffed ravioli because she cleaned her plate and hardly spoke during the process. She was kind enough to share a bite with each of us.
The ravioli had a dinstinctive and wonderful seafood flavor. The red meat sauce tasted great in combination, but you could choose marinara if you prefer. For around $12, it was a unique and delicious entree worth every penny.
I am always agreeable to dining at an Italian restaurant, so this was an easy sell for Daniel. We tried to go to Bella Via the previous night – luckily I called to check their hours since we didn’t meet up until 9 – and found out they close at a very early 8:00 on weeknights.
Situated on a corner lot, the exterior of the building is nondescript and plenty of parking is available. Inside you notice the vintage light fixtures and the homey atmosphere. A large party was seated nearby our table and they were talking and laughing loudly enough that we knew this was not a stuffy, library of a restaurant.
Daniel ordered the fried ravioli as an appetizer and we asked our server A LOT of questions. There were so many things on the menu that sounded good to me, even though it was mostly red sauce, I had a very difficult time making a decision. The shrimp stuffed ravioli caught my eye, but Misty had already claimed it and we try not to duplicate items during a forking. Ultimately I made a last-minute decision to order the chicken ravioli and spaghetti combo. I also decided to order garlic toast for a small price.
The fried ravioli were golden brown and crispy. They were served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. There was some heat to these babies which we guessed came from the marinara. Upon further investigation, however, we determined that there were some hot peppers included in the cheese filling. On a scale from one to ten, with ten being the spiciest, I would rank these raviolis at a 2.5. On the Misty Scale of Spice though, they were likely a 9. Needless to say, Misty only ate one of them.
I was impressed with the size and composition of the salad. It had a nice mix of crispy, cold, iceberg lettuce and mesculan greens. The large pile of lettuces was topped with black olives, slices of onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices and croutons. I was disappointed that the dressings weren’t homemade, but the homemade pasta more than made up for that when I received my entree.
A plain oval plate held two very large homemade raviolis and a pile of spaghetti covered in meat sauce. Each ravioli was about the size of a playing card. You could see that the edges were hand-pinched. The chicken filling was tender and flavorful with what we guessed was Italian flat-leaf parsley to cause the green color. The pasta had a nice firmness. I must have annoyed the others emitting a “Mmmmm” with each and every bite, but it was too good to be quiet.
The spaghetti and meat sauce was great, too. Albeit the spaghetti noodles were dried pasta, the meat sauce was thick with a fresh tomato flavor with a lovely sweetness. The price was great and the portion so large, I could not finish it. It made me very sad to leave anything on my plate since it was so, so good – but I couldn’t stuff in another bite. Believe me, I tried.
The garlic toast was not very toasty – It was warm, garlicky and topped with mozzerella cheese, but I would have preferred the bread be much crisper and darker brown. I only ate one of the two slices I was served because I didn’t want to waste any stomach space on bread when that pasta and sauce was so outstanding.
Kate provided great service throughout our stay. The casual atmosphere is fitting for a date, a group of friends, or an outing with children. You can enjoy an appetizer, entree, dessert and wine without breaking the bank.
Bella Via is a must-visit if you are in the Wheeling area and a place I enjoyed enough to make a special effort to return to. FOUR FORKS from this happy, and overstuffed diner.Bella Via 1 Burkham Ct
Wheeling, WV 26003