Bella Napoli is a nice little Italian market and deli located near the black hole of death also known as Brookside Boulevard and 63rd Street. Like most places in Brookside, Bella Napoli is very good, but not nearly as good as everyone tells you. But that’s just overcompensation for the Midwestern inferiority complex (“no, I swear! Waldo pizza is better than anyplace else in the entire world!”)
Bella Napoli proper is the center storefront in a row of three allied business. On the north side is an attached pizza and pasta place, with table service and a faux finish inside which gives the impression that, rather than painted drywall, you are looking at 300 year old Italian stucco. It’s called ‘La Cucini di Mama’ or something that I assume means “Mama’s Kitchen.” Is that anything like “Mama’s Family?” I love it when restaurant owners try to immortalize their mothers with half-baked business ventures. In memory of my mother I’m gonna open a restaurant featuring fried spam, corned beef hash out of a can, and syrup made of brown sugar melted in butter.
On the south side of Bella Napoli is an attached espresso bar and a few tables.
The market and deli is obviously the oldest of these three establishments, and obviously the most interesting. There is a small but nice selection of foodstuffs and beverages for sale, as well as at least 6 varieties of olives in wooden barrels, and a mouth-watering assortment of Italian meats and cheeses behind the counter.
They offer seven kinds of sandwiches. I’m not gonna list them, go look at the damn website (I’d link directly to the menu but all those fools who build restaurant websites don’t realize that they foil me by building every damn thing in flash. Really. Sure, building a site where you can’t copy and paste text or link to any subpage is a great idea. Go look at the site–any reason it should be all Flash? Just wonderin’).
These are the best kind of Italian sandwiches. A small portion of highly seasoned meat, some fresh cheese, olive oil, maybe some roasted peppers or giardinera. Contrary to popular belief an Italian sub should not be piled high with three inches of salami (joke? anyone?), much less ham or mustard or *gag* mayonnaise. Bella Napoli does a nice job with the sandwiches, these fresh mozzarella is perfect, the olive oil is good, and the meats are high quality. I enjoyed a sub with prosciutto, fresh mozz, roasted red peppers and fresh basil.
My only quibble is the bread, which lacks the definitive crust that I’ve come to expect from good Italians. Italian bread should hurt the roof of your mouth a little when you bite into it. The bread at Cupini’s is better, but their sandwiches–while also good–are a tad less authentic than Bella Napoli.
You don’t really need side dishes with your sandwich, but chips are available. Drinks can be procured at the register. Sandwiches cost between 6 and 7 dollars so you’ll get out for less than 10 bucks all told. As for seating there are half a dozen tables scattered throughout the place and a few outside.
In terms of a quick lunch, I’m not sure you can do much better in Brookside than Bella Napoli.