Twenty five years ago, about a year after Van Andel Arena made its debut, another downtown institution opened in Grand Rapids – Bistro Bella Vita, located at 44 Cesar E. Chavez Ave SW. Throughout this week ‘Bistro’ has some special events planned to celebrate its quarter century in business.
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m. there will be an open-house style wine tasting event in the private dining room with Advanced Sommelier, Tristan Walczewski. The following evening, Oct. 13 will feature live jazz music with Steve Talaga.
Known as a pioneer in the local food movement with a stated goal of delivering exceptional guest experiences with every visit, Bistro Bella Vita has been artistically plating delicious Italian and French cuisine since 1997.
Its name is derived by blending of words from two neighboring European countries – France and Italy. Bistros originated in Paris as small, no-frills establishments with a simple menu of French home-style meals. Bella Vita means “beautiful life.”
The term bistro generally implies a modest setting. In that way it’s a bit of a misnomer. Bistro Bella Vita serves a whole range of Italian and French inspired food and it’s a large, elegant space; light, airy and aesthetically pleasing. That said, the setting is versatile enough that those looking for a fine dining experience need look no further. However, it’s also an appropriate venue for those looking for a quick drink and a bite before a concert or a game.
Part of the restaurant’s charm is that even after two and a half decades, neither the concept, the physical space nor the menu seems the least bit dated. As a West Michigan leader in the farm-to-table movement, Bistro has made it a point throughout its two and a half decades to source produce, dairy and meats from family and sustainable purveyors.
With a beverage program led by a Level 3 Advanced Sommelier, as always, the Bistro will offer a wide selection of wines and will serve its signature martinis and cocktails, with a modern twist.
All week Bistro Bella Vita is paying homage to its beginnings with a throwback menu, featuring some of these original dishes: polenta con fungi– wild mushrooms with brown butter, sage, lemon, honey and pecorino, a hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Another throwback special is a unique take on insalata caprese that involves goat cheese curd (rather than traditional fresh mozzarella) accompanying heirloom tomato, with basil, kale pesto, red wine vinaigrette and sea salt.
In the pizza category, there’s Pizza bianca, with mozzarella, zucchini, squash, rosemary and parmesan cream. There is a gamberi arrabiata or spaghettoni with shrimp, olive, caper, spicy marinara and bread crumbs. There is also a Magret de canard, a butternut squash dish with shallot, tarragon, crème fraiche and cherry. For dessert, the chefs have brought back crème brûlée with raspberry.
Reservations can be made here. For parties larger than 8, call 616.222.4600.