Several months ago, I went to La Tavola restaurant in Smyrna to experience the food of a chef all my friends raved about.
Alas, the embodiment of my anticipation had ended his employment with this location and left its fate in other hands. My review of La Tavola is further down the wall.
Eventually, I had heard that Massimo had gone to Nashville and to a place called Bella Napolli Pizzeria located at 1200 Villa Pl #206, Nashville, TN. So, The Missus and I got some friends and decided to head there and see what we were told was a unique little setting. We were not disappointed. Bella Napoli is nestled inside a groovy little alley amidst a few other eateries and shops. It had a sort of european feel to it, being something that resembled a street or alley that had been built over or added to in such a way that it was enclosed, but kind of not. Hard to explain, so check out the pics. Some neat visuals and the sort of cultural and artistic development I wish Murfreesboro would develop.
All my Nashville hippies, this review is for you. HHH finally came to town.
Walking into Edgehill Village is a lot like walking into a backstreet in some little European town. Edgehill Village was the home of Whiteway Cleaners in the 1920’s, and its 8 brick buildings now comprise a unique dining and retail area. I had never been here before, but we didn’t see any real parking near by. There was a valet service we used, which was convenient and friendly. Foot traffic I am guessing makes up a significant portion of this demographic. The entrance is all brick, and outside seating is available. To be honest, it kinda looks like Diagon Alley. A small hallway lined with pictures leads you to the host area, and past the open kitchen with its iconic brick oven. Everything feels natural, cozy, and authentic.
“Trattoria” is an Italian word that refers to a small farmhouse style restaurant, not so very formal but neither low end. This is an apt term for the feeling you get when you come inside. “Bistro” might fit too. Warm, inviting, relaxed and friendly. Wood and brick lend a rustic air that dispenses with formality in exchange for cordial familiarity and open hospitality. Table settings, plate ware, and plating are all tasteful but not fine dining. It’s not hard to sit down and just enjoy yourself at all.
Our server exhibited a firm grasp on the menu, easily answering questions and explaining terms. Selections of beer and wine were offered, and any explanations were handled with grace and certainty. One of the things I look for in service is the ability for someone to be accessible and attentive without being irksome and hovering over the table. I felt like this was the case on our visit. Dishes were timed well, and plates cleared appropriately. Very professional and polished.
Most times when I go out to eat, Service is the most important aspect of my experience. I’m a fair cook, and there really sin’t anything I can’t make for myself and The Missus if I want it. I go out to be pampered, and I tip accordingly. However, this time I have to admit I was looking forward to the food the most. I had heard so much about Massimo’s influence, and was eager to sample his food. He was not there this particular night, but his presence was felt in every bite.
For starters, we all ordered some apps. (No, not the kind you put on your phone)
The Missus and I ordered the Frito Misto…fried potato croquette, fried rice croquette, and fried dough served with marinara. A tasty little trio of goodies. I only sampled a small bite or two, keeping a mindful eye on my carb intake. I have to say, each item was delicious and the marinara flavorful.
Dan and Vicky ordered a plate of Gnocchi Alla Siciliana. This dish I am told is one of the best in the area for gnocchi, and our dinner guests order it frequently. Homemade potato dumpling baked with eggplant, fresh mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses, and tossed in tomato sauce. Again, I only tried a nibble but the flavor and texture were simply wonderful.
Entree time called for me to order something sensible and balanced. I’ll freely admit, certain cuisines are harder for me to order from than others but I can usually find something at most places. I decided upon Pork Saltimbocca. Pork medallions topped with prosciutto and a white wine sauce that were just as tender as you please. A side of roasted potatoes came with it, and it was a small portion…only two or three wedges…which was perfect for me. A side of greens made enough of a fiber and protein presence that I even felt good to eat the bread that came with the dish and I later tested just fine. Between protein, fiber, and carbs this dish was very well balanced from a nutrition standpoint.
The Missus ordered a staple of italian fare for herself, the Chicken Parmigiano. This was a lightly breaded chicken breast that was finished off in a brick oven, and topped with marinara. The pasta for this dish was penne, instead of fettucini or spaghetti. Personally, I prefer penne over a lot of other pastas as it is easier to wrangle with a fork.
The Cassidy’s ordered a pizza from one of their signature selections, The Salsiccia. Topped with mozzarella, house made italian sausage, broccolii, and fresh garlic…this looks like a great meal. A slight personal change on their part was requesting a red sauce instead of the usual white sauce. Were I partaking, I would possibly have made the same change.
Lastly, a shared dessert. Tiramissu, a traditional italian treat, plated perfectly with an amazing presentation. In the past, I have been back and forth on whether or not I like this dessert. Everyplace makes theirs a bit different, and such sweet delicacies are very limited to me these days so I had to take a hard pass on this one. The rest of my dinner party seemed to really enjoy it, and again it just looked incredible. The saying goes, people eat with their eyes. In this case, it was a dish well done.
Bella Napoli isn’t just a place to get something to eat. It’s an experience, and one that delivers without disappointment. Definitely worth a trip to Nashville for date night, a meal with friends, or as a stop on your destination tourism trip. Massimo ensures the traditions of those who came before them, and I am sure has improved on them. From watching the kitchen thru the window we were seated next to, everyone here is a professional and knows their craft. Ordinarily, being sat where I can see the kitchen is a huge negative for me. I like to be immersed in the environment of the dining room, not feel like I am being put to work. However, the brick oven, the work ethic and attitude of the staff, and overall ambiance dissipated that old familiar prejudice. Here, it just felt part of the experience instead of a too-close annoyance. Combine this with the history and charm of Edgehill Village, and you have a great destination that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Murfreesboro and Rutherford County could learn from having lunch here, instead of building more chain restaurants in strip malls.
4 out of 5 peace signs!! Dig it!!
That’s one in the bag for the Nashville area since I haven’t done anything there in quite some time. Maybe ever, now that I think of it. And there’s more to come on that front. Expect another Nashville review in the near future, as well as other cities. Like I said a few articles ago, Papa’s got a brand new bag. Stay tuned to see what’s in it.
Let HHH know what you think of his expanding horizons by COMMENTING. LIKING. And let your Nashville loving friends know the “It City” has my attention too by SHARING.
Everytime you share a HHH post, a hippie gets his sandals.
“Make Lunch not war”!