The July To-Do List »
Use YP's sizzling summer checklist to pack in as many backyard barbecues, family trips, and memorable outings as you can before the kids head back to school.
My lawyer, Jeff L, kept telling me about this place so I had to check it out. I was very impressed. Bella Mia is probably one of the biggest restaurants in Downtown San Jose with a huge formal grand ballroom with private bar, two "very clubby" inter-connected fireside club rooms, (and thats just on the second floor). There's a hidden fountain garden patio as you enter from Second Street, you pass by a very open and "brassy" exhibition kitchen and casual style booth room section and then there's a formal tablecloth and white linen napkin dining room facing First Street. The bar entrance facing First Street is small but very elegant with very tall, well stocked, wine cabinets lining one wall and an even bigger mirrored back bar on the other wall. Who ever designed this restaurant had very good (and expensive) taste. Lots of mahogany stained solid woods accented by heavy brass . I used to be in the restaurant biz so I can appreciate the beauty in a well designed eatery. The menu is Italian and unlike most "cookie cutter" restaurants that are popular now, from what I learned on my visit, everything in the Bella Mia kitchen is made from scratch. The prices are fair for dining out with some very good filet steak specials on mid-week nights. While looking over the menu, my usual aperitif, Compari and soda with a twist was served promptly in a heavy rocks glass. As recommended by the waiter, I tried a new lunch item on the menu, the rib steak sandwich with garlic fries. Grilled on an open flame and placed inside soft garlic French bread. This was one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever had and now I know where Gordon Biersch got the recipe for garlic fries. Try the fries with a side of ranch dressing dip and don't fill up on the warm foccacia bread and tasty cheesie spread before your meal arrives. The espresso was served as it should be, rich, strong and creamy with a twist of lemon and raw sugar cubes...the best. The service couldn't be any better for a Downtown restaurant. I hear Bella Mia is famous for other dishes (scallopini and parmigiana) with many reviews and write-ups from critics. "I'll be back soon"
I go once a month to this grill on slow days to have my space and fun. As always the food was great but this time the off duty assistant manager was over stepping his boundary with us. I was celebrating the fact I lived one more month of my life. Yes I was feeling real happy. Being the only two customers in the whole restaurant I took the chopsticks that came with my order and started to play ting ting on my plate and glass. The off duty manager decided to come in and eat two booths down from us. There were 90 other booths in the whole place but he had to sit there. He came over and told me to stop playing around. I was like, who are you? I said nothing until we started to leave. I told him I was sorry but I was celebrating my life and I am sorry that I intruded into his little world. His lady friend started to get loud towards me. I just walked away leaving her running her mouth. I talked to the manager and he just said he was sorry and looked down his nose at us. See we do not look like we can afford to be in his place, little does he know. I have now also learned that the assistant manager works at Anderson Steak House as well. I will go to AP Stumps for now on, even though we will not have the place to ourselves. They have much better food by far. Average bill for two is $270.00 in either place. The company in which I work will take their business lunches elsewhere. Average bill for company $700.00. Total loss for the month almost a $1000.00 or more. See one never knows how just a few words and actions can spoil your business.
This is my 3rd time since moving to the Bay Area that I've eaten at Emile's. I first came here after the new owner took over and have watched her and her family hold this venerable restaurant together despite the hardship the previous owner brought to their lives. (Google: Emile Mooser). Chef Rollo's food is still outstanding. My fiancé had the Potato Crusted Salmon and I had the Rack of Lamb. Perfect ! Alexandra's charming husband Mike was our server and he took amazing care of us. He made us a complimentary Souffle and wished us good luck on our marriage. We knew that Alexandra has been ill and was rarely at the restaurant. We asked about her and Mike told us she was just leaving. Shortly she walked into the dining room in a red chef coat and an apron displaying the logo "Team Cuisine". We were so surprised to see her. She came over and gave me a hug and I introduced her to my fiancé. He got a hug too. I asked her if she was cooking now and she laughed and said, "No, I'm just one Chef Instructor....I only come in to lead our Team Buildings and oversee our banquets. I leave the real cooking to Rollo.". She looked tired and she told us she had to get her daughter home, hugged us again and left. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying our dinner, our souffle and loved having Mike serve us. This place is a hidden gem and surviving 5 years with what they have, they must be doing something right. I hope they're around forever.