What can I say? It’s the quintessential pizzeria, the vibrant and welcoming Italian-American dream house in the middle of a dull yet busy street. Even if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to avoid it. It’s neatly and oddly placed on the beginning of bustling Beretania street, almost directly across Anasia’s and Toma’s Karaoke, amidst all the faded buildings and inconspicuous establishments. You can’t miss it. Everything about this joint is enticing from its newly lit banners and evenly clean pavement to its bright red roof and white picket fence. Even if it may not be in the most romantic or scenic location, the arching entrance and open-air breeze are enough to set the mood alone. It’s truly like walking into an authentically classic pizzeria; one that is definitely not commonly found on this Asian-Pacific specializing Island. Picture a sophisticated cross between a full-fledged family reunion dinner at home and a cool summer night’s picnic in the backyard and this is what you get. It’s so perfectly captivating and nostalgically attractive that it’s impossible not to tug at some heartstrings.
This pizzeria is actually an extension of the Bella Mia restaurant on Waialae in Kaimuki. While I’ve also been to the similarly fashioned parent restaurant, this one clearly focuses predominantly on the pizza (duh) and has more of a casual atmosphere. Enthusiastic and outgoing employees greet you and summon you in as a special guest in their cozy and modest home. Once seated, water and a basket of freshly-baked, make-you-fall-in-love bread accompanied by some subtly sweet marinara are served. The bread has a slightly buttery taste and flaky texture to its golden-crisp exterior with a soft, steamy and doughy interior that warms you up instantly.
The pizza is thin with the right balance and blend of flavors; no one ingredient dominates over the others. We ordered the Spinach Alfredo Pizza and added chicken and bacon as our toppings, which was made upon order as is everything else on the menu. Instead of having an anticipated and perhaps undesirable heaviness to it, it was surprisingly light and clean-tasting. Well-portioned and most reasonably priced, we were happily satisfied with our choice.
We also ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana served over a bed of linguine and smothered in fresh basil-tomato sauce. I wouldn’t say this Eggplant Parmesan is incomparable in presentation and flavor, but it definitely has that endearing home-made taste to it with the sweetness, tartness and savor of the basil-tomato sauce. The breading of the eggplant, however, was perfectly seasoned adding that extra kick to the rest of the simple dish.
It was the ideal weeknight meal that took me back to an imaginary childhood that all kids wish to have. Oh, I forgot to mention though, if you’re repressing such childhood dreams and memories for whatever reason- it’s thankfully BYOB or Wine for that sometimes needed grown-up feeling.
Bella Mia Pizzaria2222 S. Beretania St
Honolulu, HI 96826
* In addition to the aforementioned pizza and pasta dish, I would strongly recommend ordering their stromboli (the lunch special from 11-3 is a real bang for your buck) and their lasagna (warm, creamy and comforting).