La Bella Napoli

by Steve Baker
(Santa Cruz)

La Bella Napoli -- C. Indepedencia #635, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 332-5402. I've lived in Santa Cruz for a total of 3 years. I have eaten at all the "best" restaurants (and many of the worst). To me the best of the best is Bella Napoli! I would bet I've had lunch or dinner there more than 50 times, often taking guests, and things have been perfect or near-perfect every single time.


The largely Italian food is among the best I've ever had, and I spent much of my life in Chicago--famous for its Italians and Italian restaurants. I swear the tomato and putanesca sauces are the world's best. The ravioli de carne is heaven, the carne de pimienta and carne de champiƱones are as good as any beef you'll get anywhere in Santa Cruz. Portions are generous. The service is friendly and extremely competent.

If you are looking for a restaurant to impress your date or significant other, you can't go wrong with Bella Napoli. The restaurant is very large, with two large patios under grape arbors, and many little hidden corners. It has to be the most romantic restaurant in Santa Cruz.

Now...why it is so good, yet largely unknown? That's as big a mystery as la Virgen de Cotoca, but the excellence comes from one man, the owner, don Armando Gramaglia. He's always there to greet guests with a friendly, enthusiastic, "Buono giorno!", because, you see, he is the real deal--an old-world Italian gentleman. And, get this! He's 90-years-old and smokes cigarettes like a fiend, yet he runs every detail of his restaurant as if he were serving the Pope. He once told me the secret of his longevity, health, and energy was that he eats spaghetti with garlic and olive oil every day (a dish which is on the large menu). He also drinks a little lemon chello of his own making every day (made with pure grain alcohol and, unfortunately, not on the menu. But, if don Armando likes you, he may invite you a little glass).

I hope you will try La Bella Napoli. I think you will be as impressed as I have been. Bon Apetite y Salud!

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Sep 14, 2011
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Bella Napoli
by: Anonymous

Steve,

I can tell why you might thinks thats the best resurant in Santa Cruz, becouse he comes for a bloodline that has cooking in there blood. I know this, becouse he's my great unckle. If your ever in Southern Itlay, you need to try resturante Zia Carmela in Montella (AV) Itlay. Zio Armondo's home town. That resturant is ran by his Sister Margarita, I conisfer her to be one of the best cooks of souther italian food in the world. Check out the site. http://www.ziacarmela.it/ristorante/sale.php

John Addesso

Feb 13, 2011
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Send us a photo of Don Armando
by: Bella

Sure would love to feature a photo of Don Armando. La Bella Napoli is one of the first restaurants I ever tried in Santa Cruz and it really is as good as you say. In Santa Cruz the restaurant scene is ever-changing. Eateries come and go but la Bella Napoli has been around for as long as I can remember. There's a reason it gets top billing on my list of Italian Restaurants in Santa Cruz :-D

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