As we are now in the middle of Week 3 #Quarantinelife and the majority of our South Texas counties have shelter-in-place ordinances, your girls here at Dishin’ It are extremely sad because we can’t sink our teeth into new delicious foods. However, while we are just one Zoom Brunch away from crying a river, we are very appreciative of the efforts our local government is taking to maintain our general safety.

Considering that all of us have been asked to stay in our homes from now until the beginning of May, we have decided to highlight some of our favorite places throughout the years that are currently open and offering delivery, as well as curbside services. This week we are taking it back to Chef Juan Guarcas’ Bella Mia Italian American Cuisine in Edinburg. We first visited Bella Mia back in December of 2018 and, since then, he and his Italian cuisine have gained more and more fans who travel from all over the Valley just to try one of his dishes, filled with flavor and comfort.

Bella Mia Italian American Cuisine currently has curbside service Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (no dinner service on Tuesdays). To call in your order, dial (956) 513-1113 and follow them on their social media platforms @BellaMiaItalianAmericanCuisine, to find out about any specials and features. Bella Mia is located at 500 E. Cano Street, Edinburg, TX.

 

Take a closer look at our memorable experience at Bella Mia, below.

 

Found on the corner of South 15th and Cano, Bella Mia’s ownership took an old, once alleged, church (or so our sources say) and flipped it into an Italian American restaurant. Don’t expect dim lighting and white linens when you walk in. Instead expect a warm welcome, a hot dish and a passionate conversation about food from Bella Mia’s Owner/Chef Juan Guarcas.

Chef Juan immigrated from his home of Guatemala and moved to New York City where he met Italian Chef Pietro Senes, while working as a dishwasher. Chef Pietro took Juan under his wing for the next 28 years during which he became Chef Pietro’s Sous Chef. More than three years ago they both embarked on an adventure and moved to the Rio Grande Valley to help open another local, favorite Italian restaurant of ours.

After the unexpected passing of Chef Pietro, Guarca decided to finally be “his own chef”. He took what he learned from his teacher, put his own spin on it and first opened Bella Mia in San Juan. He then decided to relocate to Edinburg, 14 months after he first opened the doors. It took him four months to relocate and, in the meantime, no one in San Juan could get a bite to eat from their favorite local Italian place. People were searching for him. Believe us, we know!

When we first walked into Bella Mia, there was a table of about a dozen Winter Texans. Chef Juan had come out to say hello to them. It looked like the party and the chef were already acquainted. The leader of the group said, “We had been looking for you and we couldn’t reach you by phone, but we found you on Facebook and we had to come out to enjoy some food.” If that doesn’t shout out loyalty, then we don’t know what does!

If there is one item that stands out above all is Chef’s tomato sauce. We dubbed it the slow and low (mind out of the gutter people!). Guarca was extremely proud of it. With a smile on his face he stated, “All I use is salt, pepper, basil and cook low for 3 hours. Nothing else is added!” The sauce was light, sweet and non-acidic. We even asked for some extra to throw on one of our 3 baskets of bread.

We shared a bottle (or two) of red wine as we ate freshly baked, sliced bread-perfect for dipping in olive oil, Caprese Salad-thick slices of creamy mozzarella, fresh basil and ripe tomatoes drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette, Chicken Parmigiana (lightly breaded filet of chicken breast topped with homemade red sauce and mozzarella cheese) and a Shrimp Scampi (linguini pasta with jumbo shrimp sautéd in white wine, garlic butter sauce, finish with freshly squeezed lime juice). Don’t worry! We most certainly left room for dessert. Nothing other than Carrot Cake with tiny bits of pineapple and nuts to really seal the deal!

Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors-South Texas and Watts is a freelance writer specializing in the marketing of the service industry. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on multiple locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley. They can be reached at dishin.it.956@gmail.com.