Niagara Gazette

November 19, 2012

BEAUTIFUL VIEW! Check out the new Bella Vista Italian restaurant on Buffalo Ave.

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — At the new Belle Vista Ristorante there’s an authentic tiramasu that is already making a name for itself.

“Our tiramasu recipe is right from Italy,” said Rick Crogan, food and beverage director at the completely restored hotel and restaurant at 7001 Buffalo Ave. 

The dessert features lady fingers, real espresso, marscapone cheese and whipped cream in a blend so inviting that one business organization representative said their group would book a dinner meeting if only they could get the tiramasu.

But, beyond the sweet finish, Crogan is proud of the entire new menu and the veteran kitchen staff at the new restaurant. Beyond Head Chef Jason Chmiel, who worked for ten years as an executive sous chef at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, there is also a banquet chef who worked at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens for a decade, a sous chef who went to school at Le Cordon Bleau and a line chef who was an executive assistant to Yoko Ono.

“With the culinary talent we have we’re trying to bring Niagara Falls and surrounding area some great food at a reasonable price, and great views,” he said. With the adjoining deck and boat docks he is also hoping the casual but upscale location will be a place people can sit out on the patio during the summer and dine with their families and friends.

“We just want people (to know) there’s another place they can go to have a great meal in the city,” he added. “We’re not just a hotel restaurant, we’re a great restaurant.”

The hotel is also reaching out to those who enjoy a good happy hour. There are mini-tappas offered every day from 5 to 7 p.m. and the hotel has hired a well known veteran bartender, Angelo Morreale, to pour drinks.

The restaurant got an expansive facelift in 2011 when the hotel underwent an estimated $5 million in renovations at the hand of Faisal Merani, president of the Merani Hotel Group, which operates facilities on both sides of the Niagara River. The new restaurant is sleek, with vibrant colors, a new bar and an expansive waterfront view.

The new menu, prepared by Chef Jason Chmiel, offers handmade fettuccini and gnocchi, along with menu items including Steak Pizziaola, Veal Parmigiana, and more casual offerings including pizza and chicken wings.

Chmiel, who noted he wanted the place to be casual and family friendly, but with a New York City feel, added that his work will be fortified by the entire hotel staff. 

“It’s been a long time since I’ve worked somewhere where everyone is going in the same direction,” he said. “From the front desk on, it’s unbelievable. I never really worked in a hotel where there has been that much of a team effort.”

The menu will be undergoing a renovation again this spring, the chef said, when the emphasis will be on locally grown, farm fresh foods and handmade pastas.

Chmiel said he hoped that those that come to dine will find just what they like and a little bit more.

“We want everyone to understand the dish they order,” he said, “but we want them to be totally surprised when it comes to the table.”

For more information visit or phone 299-0344.