Photo taken from 280wordpress site
0412 Bella CucinaFruit tray from Bella Cucina
It was back in December of 2007 when we last interviewed Pat Sheeler, owner of Bella Cucina in Lee Branch. She’s seen a lot of businesses come and go around her, but her restaurant has stood the test of time, and could easily be named an anchor establishment for the area.
If you’ve yet to dine at Bella Cucina, you’ve yet to savor the flavor of one of Birmingham’s finest kitchens. For out of it come some of the tastiest dishes in town.
After 30 years in the banking business and a family tree full of restaurant owners and chefs, Pat knew exactly what she wanted to do before she retired, and she’s having fun doing it! One day you’ll see her at the register working the numbers. Another day she’s on the phone placing the week’s food order. Sometimes you’ll see her in the kitchen, and quite often she’s out among the tables serving and visiting her guests. She’s watched as clients walk in pregnant, and later walk in hand-in-hand with their toddlers. She knows a ton of her diners by name, and her business thrives on repeats and referrals. “We have clients who drive from Sylacauga, Trussville and Pelham just to eat here,” says Pat.
All of everything is made right in the kitchen from scratch! Soups? From scratch. Cakes? Scratch. Pat says the only thing they don’t do is bake their own bread.
Perhaps another steady draw is the nutritional value of the food. “We just think twice about anything we add to our recipes and our menu,” says Pat. “We don’t serve a lot of beef. Nothing’s deep-fried. And not a lot is grilled.” It’s healthy, but not frou-frou, so a lot of businessmen frequent the place when they’ve made the decision to eat better. They even figured out a way to make a hot Monte Cristo sandwich tasty, plentiful and healthy!
Did you know Bella Cucina is open for breakfast! Yes! Every Friday and Saturday morning between 7:00am and 11:00am.
During lunchtime you can order from their standard menu which is chock full of soups, sandwiches, salad and fruit plate options, and desserts, or you can choose from their special “Warm Specials” menu which is tweaked and updated every two weeks. For example, Chicken Cordon Blue – chicken breast stuffed with Procuitto Ham, Swiss Cheese and Spinach with a White Wine Cream Sauce with Wild Rice and Broccoli.
At dinnertime, again, you can order from the standard menu (which can help accommodate a large family’s budget), or you can order off their special “Evening Entrees” menu. For example, Sauteed Red Snapper Filet w/ a Crawfish and Julie Sauce, Potatoes Grain and Vegetable of the Day? Wine and Beer are served throughout the day.
Pat says a large part of their business is private and corporate catering – both in-house and delivered. So consider Bella-Cucina for you next bridal shower, bridal tea, baby shower, office luncheon, etc. “We’ve been catering for a lot of drug reps! The doctors they serve have eaten here, know we serve hearty, health-conscious meals, and they request us!” adds Pat.
Pat rewards her frequent diners by paying $8.95 towards their 11th meal! Be sure to ask for a “Frequent Diner Card” and become one of Bella’s regulars! She offers both indoor and outdoor seating. “The outdoor seating is a favorite in the warmer months,” says Pat. They can seat 54 outside and everyone gets to enjoy the nearby waterfall while they dine. Inside is open, airy, clean and refreshing.
It’s easy to see why this restaurant has become an established, local favorite!