J David H on Trip Advisor
2 months ago
06/02/2018, 13:06 PM
Group dinner enjoyed by all
I had two visits to Bella while visiting from out of town. One was a pic... more>>
Group dinner enjoyed by all
I had two visits to Bella while visiting from out of town. One was a pick up order and the other a group dinner I set up for our travel swim team.
The location is on busy and trendy Beach Street just off the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. Parking is by street, or nearby parking garage. Both are pay to park. On weekends know that parking will be very challenged. An option is to taxi/Uber.
My experience with take-out was great! I called in the order, placed it and picked it up within 25 minutes. The food was hot and the checkout efficient. I would rate the spaghetti and meatballs 3.5/5. The margarita pizza 4/5.
The second visit days later was for a group of thirty. The restaurant was very accommodating without a designated room. A text follow up was generated to confirm the reservation the day before. The business provided a 30 minute window to arrive between 8-830.
Upon arriving I was thrilled that Bella had everything set up in a corner area by a exterior door. Waters and bread were placed on the table. It looked great! It was a perfect space to have 30. They ran two tables parallel with a path to exit the door. The kids, roughly 12 and adults roughly 18 sat in different tables. The restaurant was up front with a flat 20% gratuity on all bills. Also I confirmed a $15 fee for corkage. One misstep that I wish would have been discussed prior was the bills to be attached to parent and child.
Two waiters a man and a woman took orders and the adults matched up who the were with at the other table. Everyone thought this method would work. A floating waiter assisted with keeping waters filled. The staff earned the extra star on the review. They constantly smiled, were patient and friendly with the kids and stayed on top of our party.
After all orders were taken our waiter opened up the bottles of wine that myself and a friend brought in. The staff started out fantastic. With a group this large you figure there would be challenges with timing of food and its accuracy. However, to my surprise the kids table had no missteps on either. The orders were brought out first to them which was perfect! The adults waited another 20 minutes, or so with orders strung out. However, to my knowledge the orders were accurate. No one had issue as we were enjoying a leisurely dinner.
The food was loved by the kids and I never heard of complaints from the adults. The warm crispy loaves of bread with butter resupplied once was a hit. My dish, a smoked egg plant parmesan recommended by a friend was tasty and had a gorgeous presentation. A bit of a disappointment nonetheless on a Wow factor 3.5/5.
So at the end, approximately 1.5 into service was when the bills were requested. No one ordered dessert or coffee thank goodness. This would have added to additional confusion of the tab and parents knew it. Unfortunately this is where Brava fell apart. It took the staff around 30 minutes to generate the bills. At 10 the kids were ready to move on and we arranged a shuttle to get them back to the hotel. Some of the adults stayed back to resolve paying. Another 15 minutes passed and our paperwork was in hand. Mine had a slight inaccuracy of corkage x2 as they put a friends on mine. This was minor, everyone else had a correct tab. The biggest issue of the night was not the delay for me but the fact 20% was never placed on all the bills. Some guest believed it had and left.
There was far too much positive to write a par review. The staff did a marvelous job overall serving a big party and the kitchen's timing although not perfect for the adults was when it counted the most for the children. The food for me was an average variety and not elevated as I hoped with prices that would have customers expect more. I would place them at a 3.5, but rounding up with an extraordinary effort for our party and strong take-out experience. The atmosphere was ideal for an end of swim meet get together. Thank you Bella.