This post was written by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:
Bella Mia has reopened under new ownership, just a few weeks after the original owners closed the restaurant in late December. The interim was an intensive training period for new owner Dan Morrison and his staff, who were learning the ropes from former owner Rick Guerra and his family.
A key area of focus was the coal-fired pizza oven, whose 900 degree heat can turn out a pizza in 90 seconds and leaves little room for error. Prior to the restaurant's closing, Guerra's sons Anthony and Louis had mastered the technique so well that Bella Mia earned my selection as Restaurant of the Year in 2011.
Judging by the two pies I've sampled so far since the restaurant's reopening, it looks like the new pizzaiolo crew are fast learners. It probably doesn't hurt that Morrison , a native of Long Island, is a friend of the Guerras and has been one of the restaurant's biggest fans since its inception.
"I know that the pizzas are the heart of the business," Morrison says. "There's no way I'm messing with them."
But he does plan to expand the menu a bit to include a few panini and pasta dishes. And he hopes to add lunch service, possibly as early as February 15. Naturally, that depends on how quickly he's able to train a new pizza baker for the lunch shift.
The restaurant is still located at The Arboretum, 2025 Renaissance Park Pl., Cary.
Greg Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.