For more than 15 years, Via Bella has piled plates high with authentic Southern Italian cuisine in a friendly, romantic atmosphere. Guests in the separate dining room lift forks laden with housemade lobster ravioli or grasp slices of thin-crust pizza. Nearby, guests in the spacious bar room can share littleneck clams or shrimp bruschetta at the Brunswick back bar, which dates back to the turn of the 20th century.
Back in 1956, childhood friends Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher combined their talents and started a restaurant. While Mike made his signature thin-crust pies, Armand handled the business logistics and lent his art skills to the décor. Although Armand left the restaurant world in the ‘60s, his name remained as Mike built the business with his own signature recipes, such as his stuffed artichokes and baked clams—and of course, his pizzas. Soon Mike’s mother, who went by “Grandma Caringella,” took over the kitchen and kept business booming for many years, helping seal the pizzeria’s fate as a true family affair. As time went on, Armand’s opened multiple locations in the city and throughout Illinois and brought its timeless name along for the ride.
With a list of eight meats, eight cheeses, and more than 15 veggies, it’s rare that two custom pizzas at Fireside Wood Fired Pizza & Cafe result in the same combination. However, they all wind up in the same place: the family-owned pizzeria's wood-fired brick oven. A trip into the wood-fired flames renders crusts crispy, cheeses bubbly, and artichoke hearts no longer beating, and is also the fate of their 13 specialty pies. Baby spinach, yellow peppers, and housemade sauce crown the Very Veggie, and a blend of hot and mild italian sausage, mushrooms, and provolone top The Fireside. Beyond pizzas, the oven toasts artisan sandwiches, including the Italian Grinder filled with black forest ham and pepperoncini peppers.