Although it is located ten miles west of Wesley Chapel off S.T. 54, the new BellaBrava New World Trattoria Bexley has connections to both of our distribution areas.
We’ve been visiting the newest BellaBrava location in The Hub at Bexley since it’s pre-opening last month & our most recent visit was for the restaurant’s North Tampa Bay Chamber ribbon cutting on Jan 30.
All three Bella Brava locations are owned by 2B (it’s actually 2 over B but I have no idea how to write that here) Hospitality, which is led by president Thomas Sanborn. Sanborn was the original chef at Stonewood Grill & Tavern in Tampa Palms under then- (and long-time former) proprietor Dave Rathbun. Rathbun, who left Stonewood a few years ago, is now a manager at BellaBrava Bexley.
In addition, Sanborn says that before finding the Bexley location, he actually negotiated with two separate locations in Wesley Chapel.
“We looked at the space where Azteca D’Oro is now in the Shops at Wiregrass,” Sanborn says. “We also looked at the (still-open) space next to the new Cooper’s Hawk on State Road 56, but we couldn’t come to an agreement on either site, so we went with the Bexley location.”
The 7,000-sq.-ft. BellaBrava at Bexley is an elegant restaurant with a premium full-liquor bar and is definitely worth a visit — especially if you’ve ever dined at the original BellaBrava location on Beach Dr. in downtown St. Petersburg or the recently opened Midtown Tampa restaurant. Sanborn’s 2B Hospitality also owns Stillwaters Tavern two doors down from the original BellaBrava.
Anyway, our first couple of visits to the Bexley location have been excellent. We all agreed that our favorite dish was the hot honey pepperoni pizza (top left photo), although we also enjoyed the Bella bruschetta (top middle; which has a unique layer of goat cheese between the diced tomatoes and Jamison’s breadhouse ciabatta toast points), the bucatini with meatballs (top right), the lasagna Bolognese and the Trattoria chicken parmesan. Oh, and BellaBrava’s wine list is HUGE (and fairly priced), too!
Photographer Charmaine George (who took all of these pictures) also gave high marks to her seafood fra diavolo (not pictured) and Italian gimlet cocktail (right).
BellaBrava also offers wonderful-looking sandwiches, Rhode Island-style calamari fritti and a prime NY strip steak.
Tell Sanborn, Rathbun and general manager Tina Stormer we sent you.
BellaBrava Bexley is open every day for lunch & dinner. For info, call (813) 489- 4890 or visit BellaBravaBexley.com.