Bella Via Pizzeria opens on French Road
BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | May 18, 2011
When you walk into Bella Via Pizzeria, 142 French Road, your stomach starts to grumble and your mouth drools.
Pizza is displayed behind the counter and ample booths and tables are set up in the carpeted space. Italian tunes play throughout the café-inspired area.
“The name Bella Via means beautiful way in Italian and we like to think that we do things in a beautiful way here,” said Mike Duffy, an owner along with Earl Ketry and Mike Pacifico.
This isn’t Duffy’s first venture. In 2004, Duffy opened up the Brick Oven in Boston, NY, where he grew up and still resides. The Brick Oven unfortunately closed in 2008.
“I love it in Boston,” said Duffy. “In Cheektowaga though there are 72,000 people in a three-mile radius as opposed to 7,500 people in a five-mile radius in Boston. You can’t beat the location in Cheektowaga.”
For three weeks Duffy would travel up and down French Road, passing the building that would eventually transform into Bella Via Pizzeria, doing a concrete driveway.
On the last day of the job Duffy looked over and noticed the building. The rest is history.
“I knew I would be doing this again,” said Duffy. “I wanted to get back into the restaurant business.”
Duffy did the interior construction with the help of his 3-year-old son, Michael Jr. Duffy put marble tops on the table, all new carpet throughout the dining room and redid the bathrooms with slate tiles.
“I helped build the shelves with my dad,” said Michael Jr. His favorite meal at Bella Via Pizzeria is chicken fingers, fries and pizza. Patrons can see Michael Jr. handing out menus and conversing with the customers and staff, or telling everyone his favorite lines from Finding Nemo on Tuesdays and Thursday before Duffy takes him out to spend quality time with him.
“I have a good staff put together here that I can trust, so I’m able to spend time with my son on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Duffy. “I like the neighborhood we’re in.”
Bella Via Pizzeria is not just the average pizza place. Specials are made daily, especially on Sundays and feature pasta fagioli, manicotti, chicken with white wine, pasta broccoli, and lasagna.
Although not on the menu, they are posted on their Facebook page, Bella Via Pizzeria, and patrons usually find out via word of mouth. Italian special, which are generous portions, usually include breadsticks and a salad.
“Every day I make my own dough, fresh,” said Duffy.
“The pasta fagioli and spaghetti sauce is fresh every day too as well as the pizza sauce. Mike Pacifico’s mom is a phenomenal cook and he learned a lot of his cooking from her. The pasta fagioli is his recipe and so is the spaghetti sauce.”
Bella Via Pizzeria offers French onion soup, a myriad of salads, tacos and wraps, subs, wings, fingers, seafood platters, sandwiches and burgers.
Fish dishes include Italian broiled, broccoli cheddar and spinach feta. Icelandic haddock is used and according to Duffy the fish sells out fast.
Their specialty pizzas include a Philly cheese steak pizza, Bella Via Buffalo chicken finger pizza, chicken broccoli pizza, veggie pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, bada bing, stinger and the Popeye, to name a few.
“A true test of how good a slice of pizza is trying a cheese piece,” said Duffy. “Then you don’t have all of the other different toppings to interfere with your taste buds.”
Specials listed on the menu, in addition to the pasta and Italian comfort foods, include lunch, pizza night, which is after 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and a family pack and party pack.
Bella Via Pizzeria tells customers that it is an osteria on the back of the menu, meaning a restaurant that offers home cooked meals.
“It’s like you can come in and order a piece of home,” said Duffy.
Soon beer and wine will be served in the dining room once the liquor license is approved.
Duffy and his partners plan on setting up a Little Italy in the alleyway adjacent to the restaurant.
It will feature nice tables and chairs and a musician.
“If it’s going to happen it’ll happen really quick,” commented Duffy.
Bella Via Pizzeria will cater parties and deliver anywhere.
Recently, they delivered to an office in Williamsville.
Bella Via Pizzeria is open from 11 a.m. to at least 11 p.m. every day.
For more information, become a fan of their Facebook page, search for Bella Via Pizzeria Restaurant and Café, where the menu is also located, or call 771-1074.