After a valiant three-year effort in an odd, awkwardly situated stone building in northern Durham that has seen a string of restaurants come and go, the owners of Bella's Cuisine have pulled up stakes. The new location in community-oriented Carrboro is better suited to their aim of making Bella's a neighborhood gathering place, according to manager Valerie Hernandez.
Hernandez, who is also daughter of owner/chef Claudia Barragan and her husband, bar manager Raoul Hernandez (and older sister of the restaurant's namesake, Isabella), explains that the addition of "International" to the restaurant's name reflects a broader, more playful menu offering.
On the plate, that translates to a global mix of classics (steak Diane, shrimp and grits) and contemporary creations such as Seafood Delight (tilapia, scallops and shrimp, grilled or fried, and topped with sweet potato fries) and citrus-marinated chicken with pineapple relish. A similarly adventurous selection of pastas and starters (anything from fried green tomatoes to fried coconut shrimp with orange chutney sauce) round out the selection.
Raoul Hernandez is building the bar selection, and plans to be pulling pints of draft beer (including a selection of local brews) in the coming weeks. In the meantime, half price bottles of wine on Wednesdays should provide ample incentive to check out the new Bella's. Further enticements include a brunch menu served daily and a patio, which the owners hope to open by the end of September.
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Bella's International Cuisine (360-100 E. Main St., Carrboro; 919-903-9963; bellasic.com) is open Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.