The New Bella Monte
Reclaimed wood from a farm in Back Bay lines Bella Monte’s new wine lounge. Their wine tasting table is made from part of a sequoia tree that fell on the Eastern Shore. Add the Old World-style wines and new menu items, and you have the new Bella Monte Restaurant and Enoteca. CoVa Associate Robin Cather and I arrived Monday evening to get the scoop.
On May 1, Chris Martini and Tony Walker took ownership of Bella Monte transforming the space into a modern, yet rustic, restaurant and enoteca, which translates to ‘wine repository.’
Half of Bella Monte is now a wine lounge and shop with over 300 wine selections from Europe to California and Virginia.
With the addition of the wine-dispensing WineStations, up to 16 open wine bottles can be stored at a time. The device also regulates the wines’ temperatures extending its lifespan to up to 90 days. Upon your first visit, you receive a card to add funds for wine tastings. Then, you insert the card into the WineStation, and select your pour size—1, 4 or 6 ounces. Essentially this encourages guests to sample and discover new wines at an affordable price.
In the wine lounge, you can order small bites like their cheese and charcuterie plate with assorted cheese and meats, citrus olives, grapes and homemade crackers—the perfect accompaniment to their homemade pimento cheese.
As you stroll into the next room, you’ll step into their dining and bar area. While you’ll find some old favorites from the previous owner’s menu, Martini and Walker have added their own twist along with new seafood items. Instead of identifying as an ‘Italian’ restaurant, their focus is on Old World-style food paired with Old World-style wine.
"We work with the foods of the earth the way nature intended them to,” Martini says. For instance, their pan-seared scallops item is served with roasted corn, but as the season changes so does their menu. The scallops will soon be served over a pumpkin polenta.
While there is a wine menu for the restaurant, you can visit the wine shop and choose a wine to accompany your meal with no added corkage fees. Throughout my visit, I tried Aratas’ bold Petite Syrah and Plumpjacks Winery’s rich Cabernet Sauvignon. But what would outstanding wine be without the food?
With the charcuterie board we sampled a few more of their menu items. A freeform flatbread was smeared with ricotta and topped with mission figs, caramelized onions, sage slivers, pancetta and lemon zest. Sweet, but mostly savory, the sharpness of the sage balanced the soft ricotta, onion and seedy, sweet figs.
Described as the Italian’s garlic knot, these chewy, buttery morsels knocked any pizza joint’s knots out of the water. Appearing like a croissant, the dough is actually basted with butter in the pan as it puffs up. Inside were anchovies and sage, then the knots were garnished with capers. While these will not be on the main menu, look out for them on their daily specials!
Next, their seared tuna was wrapped in prosciutto then topped with tapenade and lemon zest and served over spinach. Yes, yes and yes. While prosciutto, tapenade and lemon zest might seem like strong flavors to have in one dish, it was a party for my palate.
Then there are some recipes that are just too good to tweak. I’m talking about their coconut cake that’s made from the original Bella Monte owners from more than 50 years ago. The seemingly endless layered cake was what you’d expect—luscious frosting, shredded coconut and moist cake.
In addition to a stellar charcuterie board, flatbread and dessert, you’ll also find salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and daily specials. Look for more menu additions in the coming weeks!
Bella Monte and Enoteca is located at 1201 Laskin Rd Suite 100, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451. They are open Monday—Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 pm and Friday—Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed on Sundays.