The Place For New York-style Italian Food

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 02, 2011
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Bella, Joey and Mia Gonzalez

There are no shortcuts in the kitchen at Bella Mia Italian Restaurant in Kaimuki. Chef/owner Joey Gonzalez cooks with passion, love and only fresh ingredients every day!

The neighborhood eatery is named after his two daughters, Bella, 3, and Mia 10. Gonzalez was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where there is stiff competition for the best Italian food, and worked with his father and brothers to learn the business. He has been happily in the restaurant business for more than 25 years. Before coming to Hawaii, he had four Italian restaurants in Texas.

On the menu you will find shrimp, veal, eggplant and chicken dishes, each prepared fresh to order. What I love is that you can request variations for special dietary needs, such as low-salt or light cheese. His sauce is homemade, and the breads are baked fresh every day (the basket of fresh hot bread with marinara sauce that is served to every table is a meal in itself). Salads are huge and also freshly prepared to order, as are the pizzas and pizza rolls.


The open kitchen and friendly staff make it a fun place to take the entire family.

What’s my favorite? It’s hard to choose just one, but chicken cacciatore ranks high on my list!

Bring your own beer and wine; there is no cork-age fee. Parking is plentiful in the lot behind the restaurant.

For more information about the restaurant and catering, call 737-1937.

There is usually a line, as this place is popular, so get there early!

Here’s a recipe especially for MidWeek readers compliments of Gonzalez.

CHICKEN CACCIATORE

* 2 pounds boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 2 cups all-purpose flour, for coating
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 each green and red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
* 64 ounces marinara sauce
* 1/2 cup sherry
* fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag, add chicken and shake until coated. Heat oil in a large skillet. Shake off any excess flour and fry chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.

Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and peppers to skillet and saute until the onion is slightly browned.

Return chicken to the skillet, add marinara sauce and wine and simmer for 25 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Garnish with parsley and top with grated Parmesan.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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