Richard Bellisario, a retired Cleveland Police officer, opened the first Bella Pizza on Fulton Rd. across from St. Rocco Church in 1977. Shortly thereafter they moved to Fulton Rd. across from the library. They have been at their 4830 Memphis Ave. location since 1990.
The Memphis site had been home to Mama Mia's, one of the first pizza shops to open on the west side (in 1953). Bella Pizza kept their phone number so 216-661-2626 has been a working pizza shop's phone number for almost 60 years.
Dennis has been working at Bella Pizza since he was 13 years old. He said he learned many things from his father throughout the years, but one of his dad's main messages was, "Provide a top quality product and sell it at a good price. Quality and affordability always win." Some readers may recognize Dennis Bellisario as Christopher Columbus in the Columbus Day Parade in Little Italy; he has been featured in the Plain Dealer several times over the past few years. He also works at St. Rocco's Italian Festival every summer.
Dennis, like his father, finds great joy in making customers happy and strives to keep them coming back year after year. He didn't raise prices for almost five years to try to help his customers through recent difficult economic times. The dough and sauce are made fresh daily. To ensure that every Pizza, Stromboli, Calzone, Pasta dish or Salad tastes the same regardless of who makes it, Dennis personally trains every employee. Nothing is fried, including the wings. "I bake them in the oven because it keeps them tender"