From the Riverview Observer
By Sally Deering
Bayonne has its share of Italian restaurants and Bella Sorrellas on the corner of 50th Street and Broadway, stands out from the crowd with a menu of classic Italian dishes served with a home-style flair. Owner David Rivera opened Bella Sorrellas three years ago where the old Welcome Inn used to be. The son of Ana and Demetrio “Lumen” Rivera, David grew up watching his father run his Jersey City restaurants: The Seagulls Bar & Grill on Communipaw Ave; The Old San Juan on Jersey Ave; and The Fan Bar on Grove – and he knew early on he wanted to be a restaurateur like his dad.
“I was about 5 and my father picked me up at school and took me to his restaurant, The Seagulls,” Rivera recalls. “I went behind the bar and started cleaning the glasses. He asked me what I was doing and I said, ‘I want to be like you’ and he hugged me and said ‘One day you will.’ Since I was 16 I worked with him after school and through college.”
Rivera worked ten years as transportation supervisor for Christ Hospital in Jersey City and decided he wanted to go back to the restaurant business.
Bella Sorrellas Chef Leo Compi with owner David Rivera
“There was something empty in my heart,” he says. “My father’s philosophy was ‘make sure the customer is fed well and feels at home’. He was in the business over 30 years. Everybody loved my father and I wanted to be like that. ”
Rivera followed in father’s footsteps and Bella Sorrellas (which is Italian for “beautiful sisters” and named for his daughters Analexa, 18, and Isabel, 5) is a cozy corner bistro with an extensive Italian menu. The star of the show – as always – is the food and Rivera works closely with Chef Leo Compi (formerly of Just Sonny’s) a friend for more than 10 years.
“We always wanted to work together,” Rivera says. “I always liked the way Leo cooked at Just Sonny’s and when they closed (the owner, Fortunato retired,) Leo came here. We have the same passion about food. He loves what he does the way I do.”
Bella Sorrellas serves Soups, Appetizers, Salads, Pastas, Chicken, Veal, Steaks and Seafood dishes and the menu features a delicious Pasta Fagioli soup ($5.95); a Crispy Fried Calamari appetizer served with a hearty, perfectly seasoned red sauce ($10.95); and a very tasty Chicken Scarpariello entrée served with sausage, mushrooms and garlic in a lemon white wine sauce ($17.95).
Appetizers also include Stuffed Mushrooms, Mussels, Shrimp Cocktail and Hot Antipasto ($8.95-$14.95); and Pasta dishes feature Linguini with Clams, Ravioli a la Bella, Baked Ziti a la Bella and Fettuccini or Tortellini Alfredo ($10.95-$14.95). Steak dishes include Filet Mignon, New York Strip and Steak Pizzaiola with Mushrooms in Marinara ($23.95-$24.95); and Seafood dishes feature Shrimp Scampi, Filet of Sole Francese, Zuppa Di Pesce, and a Broiled Seafood Platter ($17.95-$25.95).
“We serve only fresh ingredients,” Rivera says. “The produce is fresh. The meat is fresh. I refuse to serve anything frozen.”
During a busy afternoon, Rivera greeted every customer who walked through the door with a smile After three years in the restaurant business his passion for his restaurant has not waned.
“I love this business,” Rivera says. “I saw how hard my parents worked to make their businesses successful and I know I wanted to do exactly what they did. Interacting with the customers and seeing how much they enjoy the food – I love it all.”