An Elevated Italian Dining Experience

An Elevated Italian Dining Experience

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Bella Cucina restaurant exudes an essence all its own with a dining experience that will serenade your senses with impeccable Italian dishes, rich in flavor and artistry.

The new Italian restaurant Bella Cucina is an elevated experience that brings an exciting new dining addition to the western communities.

The reimagined space opened in October in the Village Royale plaza at the northwest corner of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards. Facing Royal Palm Beach Blvd., the space was formerly home to Mario Bros. Italian Restaurant.

Bella Cucina lives up to its name, meaning “beautiful kitchen,” as each plate of northern-style Italian cuisine is exquisitely crafted and prepared to delight.

“If you see something with your eyes, you’re going to like it. Everything comes from the eyes. Sometimes not by how much — it’s all about the quality,” chef and owner Edgar Perez said.

Quality, like the Linguine Frutti di Mare, a dish filled with favorites from the sea. Succulent shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops and calamari are served with linguine in a white wine sauce.

Another delicacy is the Vitello alla Milanese, thinly breaded veal topped with arugula, tomato, shaved parmigiano and roasted potatoes.

“I always wanted to open a restaurant with Italian cuisine, because we love that food,” Perez said. “A restaurant with a nice menu, good quality food and service.”

His career has taken him on a 25-year culinary journey starting at age 14 when he arrived in the United States from Guatemala. He has since entrenched himself in every aspect of the business at several large restaurant franchises, to eventually opening up three of his own Sabor Latino restaurants throughout Palm Beach County.

In 2016, he met his wife, Gladys Suarez, shortly after she arrived from Venezuela. While working together, they realized they had much in common.

“We have almost the same taste in food, and we created many of the dishes together,” he said.

The two are now embarking on this newest culinary collaboration together, and each dish and guest is given special attention.

“We’re happy. She loves what she’s doing. She loves customer service. We strive to make guests happy with excellence in service,” Perez said.

From the thoughtful preparation to the moment the meal is plated, vibrant accents accompany the dish with flowers and fruit.

One of those masterpieces is Costata di Manzo, a grilled prime rib sizzling in flavor over a bed of lobster mashed potatoes. Alongside is an artistic take on a salad, with a stuffed tomato that has been boiled, peeled and filled with arugula, onions and dressing, like an edible treasure chest. Branzino alla Griglia also is popular. The grilled Mediterranean striped bass is topped with a lemon butter sauce and sautéed vegetables over mashed potatoes.

Smaller plates include grilled octopus with sautéed arugula, cherry tomatoes and onions, topped with chimichurri. This crispy calamari is served with both marinara and a spicy sauce. Other traditional favorites include savory lasagna, lobster ravioli, and chicken prepared several ways, such as Francese, Parmigiana and Marsala. A special menu for children offers Spaghetti Bolognese, Fettuccine Alfredo and more.

Lunchtime is a great way to try the soups, sandwiches and pizza, Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pizzas can also be created to taste, with many toppings to choose from.

“Our house pizza has fresh mozzarella with arugula, tomatoes, prosciutto and shaved parmesan,” Perez said. “We can add grilled chicken on top, too.”

The bright and cozy dining room seats 50 with a quaint elegance as jazz plays in the background. White quartz tabletops, contrasting black chairs and lounge-style couches are topped with gold accent pillows.

Cocktails are specially crafted with bright colors and elegant dried fruit. Tinto de Verano is a popular red wine with lime juice, Sprite and dried lemon to garnish. The Bella Pineapple Cocktail is a hit, made with coconut wine, sweet and dark wine, along with pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine, served in an ice-cold brass pineapple cocktail mug.

Limoncello liqueur is a great way to finish dinner. It also comes in a flight.

“The limoncello flight is my favorite,” Suarez said. “It’s a combination of two limoncello with two cream limoncello. A sampler, so if you don’t want to drink too much.”

For dessert, try the Limoncello Mascarpone Cake, a sponge cake dipped in lemon liqueur and layered with imported mascarpone. The Tiramisu also is layered with mascarpone after the sponge cake is soaked in espresso then sprinkled with cocoa.

Traditional coffees complete the experience, from a tasty espresso to a frothy cappuccino or latte, complete with biscotti.

“We welcome all for a great, delicious meal in a comfortable setting, and surprise you with nice food,” Perez explained.

The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bella Cucina is located at 1193 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. in the Village Royale plaza. For more information, call (561) 656-1990 or visit