Bella Vista Italian Kitchen and Bar is the newest eatery in Aptos. It’s located in the famous Bayview Hotel, in Aptos Village. The Bayview Hotel has hosted a number of restaurants in recent years, but Bella Vista is under distinct ownership and management. It first opened its doors in late February 2017, and it quickly won accolades from many Aptosians looking for traditional and authentic Italian cuisine.
Bella Vista is the work of Jan Johnson, whose family built an Aptos beach home in the 1940’s. She’s owned and managed a number of restaurants over the years, and never thought she’d want to do it again…until she realized what an opportunity she had with the Bayview Hotel location. She had looked at a lot of locations in and around Aptos, but the allure of the Bayview won her over. According to her, “You just can’t replace the ambience of this location.”
The interior of the restaurant was completely refreshed for Bella Vista – it’s a transformation. The design is clean and classic 19th century; the feeling is warm and inviting, which is exactly how Johnson describes her reception by the local community. She attests that even competing restauranteurs in the area have been supportive.
The chef is a native of Italy, hailing from Napoli. He’s worked in restaurants throughout the world and all over California. He is dedicated to his craft; he hand-rolls the gnocchi and and rolls and stuffs the ravioli by hand too.
The wine list – featuring wines from Italy and California (mostly on the central coast) – was prepared by the head waiter Sandro, the former owner of Star Bene and Ristorante Da Mario in Saratoga. Bob Marsh, who runs the the local Birichino winery whose wines are featured, also helped with the wine list.
The restaurant has a Mugnaini wood-fired clay oven in the back yard, which they use for braising their own meats…and for making pizza as well. The pizza uses caputo flour from Italy, which gives their hand-tossed crust a very distinctive flavor.
They have live music every Friday night, and other musicians may drop by on other nights of the week to strike up a tune.
Bella Vista Italian Kitchen and Bar is a huge and very refreshing departure from recent restaurants located within the Bayview. It’s got all the makings of a great spot for date night. If you’re looking for something new and exciting to try in Aptos, take a step back in time and check out the new Bella Vista.