Greg Cox of the News & Observer named Bella Mia his “Restaurant of the Year.” Now some people have asked, “A pizza joint? Restaurant of the year? Seriously?”
My response: Most definitely.
Note that Cox did not say Bella Mia was the best restaurant of the year. Nor did he give it his highest rating of 5 stars — it only received 4 stars.
So why does Bella Mia deserve to be called the Restaurant of the Year? When one looks at the state of pizza in the Triangle a year ago, there are a lot of places that make a decent pie. Some have wood-fired ovens, some use great ingredients, and you could always get a solid pizza. But could you get a transcendent pizza? No.
Bella Mia makes a transcendent pizza. Their coal-fired oven hits temperatures of nearly 1,000 degrees. The Guerra brothers, Louis and Anthony, use the finest ingredients and cook those pizzas with just the right amount of char. There is no place in North Carolina that comes close to this play. Some individuals may disagree, but the consensus is that Bella Mia is unlike any pizzeria that came before it in our area. And because it is so much better than anyone else makes it worthy of the ROTY designation.
This is the only restaurant with which I am totally obsessed. I’ve probably eaten there 30-40 times since they opened. I’ve gotten to know the Guerra family fairly well, and when you think of how big of a chance they took, investing in beautiful tile-laden coal-fired ovens in the back of a Cary strip mall, I can’t help but smile over their success. They dared to raise the bar for an iconic food like pizza, and they blew away the competition in doing so.
So congratulations to Bella Mia and the Guerra family. And a big thumbs up to Greg Cox to have the balls to pick a pizza joint as his Restaurant of the Year. Who’da thunk it?