Review – Bella Donna’s in Pittsboro
My friends and I wanted to get together to celebrate with a couple of friends who recently had their birthdays. We were looking for an intimate, yet fun setting in which to celebrate. We decided to meet at Bella Donna’s in Pittsboro.
Donna Bianco, owner of Bella Donna’s, is a very enterprising woman. She originally opened Bella Donna’s as a combination of a charter school, called Our Neighborhood School, and a restaurant. When I first went to her place, it was take out only. I remember eating her lasagna, which was a rich, meaty marinara sauce smothered in lovely layers of pasta and melted mozzarella and generous portions of ricotta cheese. I also ordered a few pizzas from the “Our Neighborhood Pizza” window, where you may sometime see students making the pizza. The pizzas at Bella Donna’s are wonderful. The crust is not too thin nor too thick, but somewhere in the middle. You can smell the garlic as you pull up to the restaurant, which means this is a great Italian restaurant.
Donna prides herself in using as many local ingredients as possible. She knows many of our local farmers in Chatham County and other nearby counties. She uses Lindley Mills Flour from Graham for her pizza dough, her meatballs and hamburger toppings come from Lilly Den Farm in Goldston and her eggs that are used for the pasta dough and egg wash are from Eastwick Farm in Pittsboro.
She makes all of her pasta, bread and sauces from scratch, reminding many people of their Italian grandmas. Much of the success of her restaurant is due to her warm and generous personality. She is an owner who cares about her customers deeply and her welcoming nature makes people feel immediately at home when they come to her restaurant. She also mentored Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste and encouraged her to open Angelina’s Kitchen, which will be reviewed here in the near future.
The restaurant is small, with about eight tables. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner, or a gathering of a small group of friends. Our group was a bit large. We had 10 people, but they were still able to accommodate us. Most of Donna’s wait staff are local high school students, again because she likes to give young people an opportunity to gain real world experience. Our waitress and waiter were both very attentive and friendly.
A group of our friends got one of the pizzas with ham, jalapeño, olives and onions on it. They raved about the great sauce and crunchiness of the crust. They also ordered mushrooms stuffed with sausage, which, for mushroom lovers, looked like a great bet. The mushrooms were quite large and filled with a generous portion of the sausage filling. I’m not a big mushroom lover though, so I did not try them myself.
Another friend ordered the eggplant parmesan. My husband and I were sorry we didn’t get this dish when we saw his arrive. There were several very large slices of eggplant that were slightly breaded and generously coated in mozzarella and Donna’s famous red sauce. It was served with a side of spaghetti.
I ordered the chicken piccata al limone, which featured a nice, big piece of chicken breaded and lightly fried to a perfect golden brown. It was served with a side of linguine and a sauce of white wine, lemon, capers, and parsley. I had enough left for a second meal.
Another friend had the pasta ribbons, which was freshly made pasta served with cherry tomato sauce and basil, topped with lots of parmesan cheese. He also added spinach to his. I had a bite and was really impressed with the tomato sauce. It tasted like the cherry tomatoes had just been picked and put into the sauce.
The pizzeria also has a “make and bake” pizza. They put all the ingredients you need in a pizza box, including a dough ball, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and as many toppings as you’d like. You take it home, assemble it and throw it in the oven. The price starts at $7.95 for just a cheese pizza. Not a bad deal when you are busy and want to have a nice meal at home.
Bella Donna’s is located in downtown Pittsboro, at 87 Thompson Street. They are open 11am – 8pm Monday to Thursday, 11am – 9pm Friday and 4pm – 9pm Saturday.