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Bella Vita, Owners Joe Conigliaro and Tulio Torres - Italian on Liberia Avenue in Manassas

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On the way through Manassas this afternoon, hunger pangs attacked Lady KN and I, and Bella Vita was visible in a strip mall on the side of Liberia. A good meal was about to be had.

First things first - this is not a chain, although there is a related restaurant in the Richmond area called Dolce Vita.

Next, the interior is very nice. It's family friendly, but there are happy hour specials and a little bar off to the side of the entrance. Pictures of Frank and Dino on the walls -- and inexplicably, a picture of Bogart above the urinal -- and plenty of tempting dishes on the menu. Candy Sagon would be all over this place with one of her meaningless two-star reviews, and it qualifies for her purview -- lost in the Virginia suburbs and not really worth a review.

Nonetheless, Lady KN and I had a competent snack, beginning with the appetizers of mussels (plump and flavorful) and calamari (nicely crisp and tasty). No lemon was provided for the calamari and no sopping bread was provided for the mussels, but these were easily corrected omissions. We followed with spot-on salads -- Wedge for Lady KN and Chef's for me -- and these were very good. They arrived on rectangular plates, so the the ingredients were nicely spread out instead of piled high.

The competence of our dishes led me to peek at the menu and see if anything might compel me to return at some point, Pappardelle with Lamb Bolognese, Gnocchi Boscaiola, Scallops alla Brandy over Fettucini and a pizza named "The Butcher Shop" all caught my eye.

More than likely, we'll try this place again at some point.


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