Sometimes one of the best restaurants in Grand Rapids is right under your nose. I've been living in downtown for a year and half and have walked by this restaurant almost every day to and from our Studios on Ottawa NW.

So imagine my surprise when I got invited to Bistro Bella Vita this Wednesday with two of my co-workers. There are two sides of the restaurant - cafe side, with high top tables and looks like it would have been a great bar to hang out at before COVID. And then they have the dining room side with conventional tables. I immediately loved the vibe of Bistro Bella Vita just walking in the door. It reminded me of some of my favorites in San Francisco when I worked out there.

Brian Thomas / TSM

So my first visit was just lunch at Bistro Bella Vita. Lunch options include the full menu with Apps like Spicy Pork Meatballs, Shrimp + Crab Cakes and Smoked Salmon Rillettes. Housemade Pasta and the Rigatoni Bolognese was recommended and more on that later. Salads and Soup. Entrees Faroe Island Salmon, Beef Brisket Bourguignon which I hear is amazing, Saffron Risotto and of course Steak Frites. And Pizza which is what we opted for at lunch - we had the Rustica with Italian Sausage, Pepperoni and 3 cheeses. It was enough for three of us to share. Everyone gets two pieces of the pie. After this great lunch with amazing service, Bistro Bella Vita is going into my weekly rotation.

Brian Thomas / Townsquare Media

On the way home the other day I was about to pass by Bistro Bella Vita and decided to stop in. What I haven't mentioned yet was their zest for wine...just like me. So why not? It was little cooler on Wednesday so a good glass of red wine was sounding good. I opted for the Chappellet "Mountain Covee" a blend of Bordeaux grapes from Sonoma, CA. Delightful and hits the spot. I got a copy of the cellar wine list and my host Travis told me about an amazing wine that is limited called Domaine Dujac Pinot Noir, but the price is $850. Out of my range today, but they did have a Snowden Reserve Cabernet from 2008 that I may enjoy with company on my next visit. Wine is such a big deal at Bistro Bella Vita and you can buy retail wine there and join their wine club.

So what's for dinner? I had heard about the homemade pasta and lunch, but wasn't ready for a food coma. So I went all in and got the Rigatoni Bolognese with Northern Italian meat sauce and parmesan. First bite and I ranked it up with Little Italy in NY and Fior D'Italia in San Francisco. Yes, the pasta is that good for that comparison and it's a big portion. While I continued with my Chappellet Cab, this pasta would be amazing with the Super Tuscan (which is Cab, Merlot and Sangiovese blend from Italy) Liberta d'Acqui and -$5 cheaper than the big Cabernet I was drinking.

Homemade Pasta at Bistro Bella Vita. Rigatoni Bolognese with a glass of Chappellet Mountain Cuvee

So now I have to ask myself why I'm been so stupid not to stop in before this week. I have a new favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids and it's Bistro Bella Vita, just look for the Wood Michigan Sculpture on 44 Grandville SW right by Van Andel Arena.

Brian Thomas / TSM

Side note I'm moving to the West Side, so I won't be tempted to stop by every day, because I would...it's that good.