Bella Napoli – Italian Cuisine
Bella Napoli is a charming small restaurant – serving authentic Italian Cuisine and Neapolitan brick-oven-baked pizza – that will transport you to Naples with its traditional Italian cuisine having regional and fresh flavors from Paolo Tramontano’s Italian home country. For those who are Pizza & Pasta lovers this is the perfect place to come and relax with your family and friends on a regular basis as you live locally and dine globally!
A little about the Owner…
When Paolo Tramontano visited New York on a vacation in 1999, he likely did not realize what his future had in store for him. Nearly 16 years later, he’s living in Nashville and treating the masses to Neapolitan cuisine at his popular restaurant, Bella Napoli Pizzeria. It has been an interesting ride for the immigrant, to say the least.
“I came for vacation,” he says in his broken English. “But I met some friends and I ended up staying.”
“There wasn’t a Neapolitan pizza place in Nashville when I opened,” says Tramontano. “People had no clue you could cook pizza in under two minutes. Yes, it is authentic Neapolitan brick-oven pizza with a flame kissed crust…black spots included…
“We had people ask questions all the time. Is the pizza supposed to be wet? Is the crust burnt because there are some black spots? People here knew New York-style, and that’s good, but this is different. It was important to me to feel like I’m in Naples here. Because I spend so much time here I wanted it to feel like I was at home. That’s what I went for. And even though we were serving nothing but top quality we had to get people to understand that this pizza is different from what they were used to. But it’s okay. In Italy, they don’t know a good burger. An American chef could go there and open a great burger restaurant and make a lot of money.”
A little about the Place…
The atmosphere / ambiance is cool – the outdoor seating area at night is charming. Bella Napoli, indoor and outdoor, makes you feel like you are somewhere other than in Nashville.
- 1200 Villa Pl / Ste 206 / Nashville, TN 37212
A little about the Pizza…
The flour used to make the dough comes directly from the Caputo Mill in Italy, a family-owned and operated business for decades. This specially formulated flour is free of enzymes and additives, and is packed with protein. Only natural ingredients – yeast, water, and salt- are added to the flour to form the dough. It’s leavened for a day or two, then forms the basis for one of our perfect pizzas.
At Bella Napoli Pizza, only fresh San Marzano tomatoes are used. Named for the region in which they are grown, these long, beautiful, bright red tomatoes taste even better than they look. They have less sugar and fewer impurities. In fact, the tomatoes are so delicious, only salt and pepper are added to create a fresh, tangy, all-natural sauce. No fillers or preservatives are anywhere to be found- just great taste.
A Bella Napoli pizza is topped with only the freshest mozzarella. The Mozzarella di Bufala (imported from Italy) is made from Bufala milk, and the Fior di Latte (sourced locally) is made from cow’s milk. Both are incredibly fresh and flavorful, not sodden and greasy like the cheese you might get on a typical pizza. These cheeses also do a great job of withstanding the 800-900 degrees of the brick pizza ovens without burning.
A little about what I sampled…
Yes, it was authentic Neapolitan brick-oven pizza with flame kissed crust … black spots included … and one in my group did ask why the pizza was “burnt.” I ordered the Margherita pizza with Italian sausage (you can add ingredients as they will customize pizzas to order). The crust was crispy and the fresh basil and tomato sauce added delicious flavors. Also, ask for a spicy olive oil with crushed red pepper to dip your crust in if you like something with a bit of kick to it!
The pizza was excellent and the server was well-versed in details about the owner’s background and brick pizza oven as well the ingredients that were imported from Italy and used in their food preparation.
In the past, I have sampled the Sorrentino pizza (no sauce) with its delicious mozzarella, mushrooms, Italian imported pancetta and parmigiano … olive oil and garlic base. Delicioso!
If interested, they have a great Happy Hour M-Th 4-6 PM with $4.00 well drinks, $5.00 house wine, and 1/2 priced Margherita pizza (ask about the pizza prior to ordering to make sure that is still an option).
Salsa – Puerto Rican & Latin Cuisine
- 818 Palmer Place / 10th Ave. District / Nashville, TN 37203
Along with some friends I visited Salsa – serving authentic Puerto Rican and Latin Cuisine – on Wednesday. Salsa Restaurant is a traditional Latin restaurant located in the heart of Nashville, TN, USA. Anyone can identify this restaurant from the distance due to its bright colors and neon light insignia at the entrance of the restaurant. Salsa restaurant brings-up a mix of Latin flavors with a little kick of the Caribbean Cuisine. Salsa Puerto Rican and Latin Cuisine invites Latin bands to play every weekend and takes requests from anyone who is in the house wanting to dance to the typical Latin Rhythm, salsa.
As we arrived at the restaurant, one of the owners greeted us. Following this we were guided to our seats by one of the waiters. The people who work at the restaurant seemed to be working with their own family members. A feeling of warmth and welcome surrounded us from the moment we entered the restaurant.
For starters, I began the evening with one of Salsa’s most famous appetizers – their Puerto Rican version of the traditional Latin empanada / empanadita – the empanadilla!
Empanadillas de Carne ($8), Bean Hummus ($9), and Plantain Fries($5)
The empanada – a traditional Latin appetizer can be found all over Latin America with different variations in crust and filing. In this case, Salsa sticks to the Puerto Rican and Peruvian version of a Latin empanada, which is typically made with a flour crust; however, their version is called an empanadilla. I found the empanadillas very tasty and probably could happily eat a dozen of them without blinking an eye … sinceramente una comida muy sabrosa!
Herb Breaded Fried Calamari with Cilantro Aioli ($10)
Asopao de Pollo (chicken soup) ($8)
(Sweet Plantain and Spinach Lasagna)($15)
Ropa Vieja (Pulled Steak) ($17)
Pasta Primavera (Sautéed Vegetables on a Bed of Linguini with a Creamy Garlic Sauce) ($17)- A vegetarian option
My main dish was a signature entrée called Stuffed Mofongo with Garlic Shrimp.
The Mofongo ($22) (Garlic-flavored mashed plantains) is a dish created with plantains as the main ingredient. The plantains are picked green and then fried and mashed with salt, garlic, and oil. My variation of this Puerto Rican dish included shrimp rather than meat. I found the texture of the plantain a little different than what I was used to but the flavor was exquisite. The incredible homemade salsas that the chef prepares in the restaurant are amazing; most of them had a soft garlic base. These salsas intensified the flavor of the food without eliminating or overpowering its essence.
If you are interested in dessert, I would recommend trying a dessert called Flan de Coco ($7) which is sort of like a cheesecake and custard mixture with coconut cream adding a bit of tropical sweetness. It is oven-baked, not too sweet, and needs to be sampled to do the flavors justice … I am not sure about all the ingredients … let me know what you think about the flavors if you try this tropical coconut flan.
Most appetizers at Salsa Puerto Rican and Latin Cuisine are under $10 and its entrées under $20 … Happy Hour M-F – 3-6 PM … Live Music some evenings @ 7 PM … Free Salsa Dancing Lessons Tues @ 8 PM.
Going to Salsa is a good idea for a fun evening out with friends or family, and it just might end up being a very amusing and addictive night out tradition!
Originally posted July 2018