Restaurant Review Roulette: Bella Mia

September 29, 2010

Most of the places that Greg Cox reviews are restaurants I’ve never visited, and all too often, I’ve never even heard of them.  I try to guess how many stars the place will get based on the restaurant’s website and menu, and then I look at Yelp and Chowhound to see if there’s been any discussion.  And then I guess.

This week is different, as Greg will be reviewing Cary’s Bella Mia, a coal-fired pizza joint.  I sort of know this restaurant.  Quite honestly, I’m a bit obsessed by it, having eaten there 15-20 times since they opened back in June.  I’ve become personal friends of the family that owns the place, Rick Guerra, his sons Louis and Anthony, and Rick’s sister, the ever-charming Lucie Guerra.  I’ve tried just about everything on the menu.  I’ve drunk their beers.  I’ve sampled Lucie’s desserts.  I’ve declared Bella Mia to be the best pizza in the Triangle, if not the state.  There are others who disagree, as they might not get what Bella Mia is trying to do, with their 900 degree oven, fueled with oak and anthracite.  They might not like the pizzas that are cooked in two minutes, with a thin crust slightly charred on the bottom.  But of the dozens of people I’ve introduced to Bella Mia, at least two-thirds agree with me that it’s the best pizza in the area — by far.  There will never be unanimity, but that many people cannot be wrong.

So now Greg Cox has visited Bella Mia several times and is ready to write about it.  Greg has an unwritten rule that 4 stars is as high of a rating he’ll give to a casual place, and although Bella Mia is far nicer than one would ever expect for a pizza joint, it’s still a pizza joint.  Yes, the pizza is amazing.  Yes, the beer selection is solid.  Yes, I had a clam and lardo pie last week.  But will Greg give this place more than 4 stars?  I know he won’t give it 5, because that rating is reserved for the more formal, high dollar establishments.

Bella Mia is transcendent, and it deserves more than 4 stars.  No one does anything like it in the area, and so I’m really hoping it’s a 4.5 star review.  That’ll send a message to the restaurant community that if you do something extraordinary, you’ll be rewarded.  We’ll see on Friday.

Here are this week’s odds:

5 stars — 22 to 1

4.5 stars – 5 to 4

4 stars — 1 to 2

3.5 stars — 4 to 1

3 stars — 12 to 1

2.5 stars — 20 to 1

2 stars — 100 to 1

1.5 stars — 5,000 to 1

1 star — 1 bazillion to 1

I really hope they get the 4.5 stars, but I’m expecting 4.  Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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Edit: October 1, 2010 — It’s a very strong 4-star review for Bella Mia.  Greg Cox had nothing but praise for the pizza, calling it “flawless.”  And this demonstrates the problem with any star-based review system: a place like this is unable to get any more than 4 stars.  That’s why it’s important to just read the damn review and not focus on the number of stars.  And then go get you a pizza.