FORK IN THE ROAD: Junction City’s ‘Bella’s Italian Restaurant’ has served made-from-scratch for over a decade

Live at Five
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:24 PM CST
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JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - Bella’s Italian Restaurant, a Junction City restaurant, has been serving made-from-scratch Italian staples to its local community and visiting customers for more than a decade now.

Bella’s can be found at 605 N Washington St. in Junction City, about an hour away from the capital city, but there is another Bella’s location in Dallas, Texas, where the Junction City owner, Song Hee Lee, met the original owner and proposed a partnership.

“I met him in Texas, Dallas,” said Lee. “He has grown up in New York, in the Bronx. His family is the [Bella’s] Italian restaurant family. He opened a restaurant in Dallas, Texas. I met him over there and when I tasted his recipe. I loved it. So, I asked him ‘can we do it together,’ and we were a success. I originally come from Kansas to Dallas, so I ask him, ‘I have a building over there in Kansas, in a little local area. Do you want to do that? Yeah, why not?’”

The main feature Lee mentions about Bella’s is that the kitchen staff do not take pre-cooked items, put them in the microwave, and serve them. Staff members prepare each order from scratch by staff members with years of experience in the kitchen. The menu has all of the traditional Italian favorites, like spaghetti, alfredo, and more.

“Right now, the biggest sale is our cream sauce with the chicken -- feta cheese, chicken fettuccini alfredo. That’s the major sale. There’s chicken parmesan or -- so we have three bases... One of them is the alfredo sauce, the other one is the marinara sauce, and the other one is a lemon wine sauce. That’s three different bases, we have the different noodles we use in it, and the other part is the oven base foods. Like a pizza or our calzone, or some baked pasta.”

“When you come into our restaurant, you can taste the real homestyle cooking in Italy. That is the key point for our food, the other one is that it is all made from scratch, for each order.”

During the COVID pandemic, Bella’s had to close its doors for four months, according to Lee, but it had to adjust in order to stay in business by offering to-go orders only. Luckily, Bella’s is still around and serving its clientele.

Lee said that Bella’s has been open for 11 going on 12 years now in a building that was built in 1890, which is more than 130 years ago.

Since its infancy, Bella’s has seen customers from several different states, like Michael Hake, a customer from Denver, Colorado, who was passing through Kansas and decided to stop by Bella’s. Hake said next time he is in Junction City he might just visit Bella’s again.

“The atmosphere is good, I like it,” said Hake. “Yeah, it is not too loud, so you can still have a good conversation and they play good music, and the staff seems friendly.”

Their hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Bella’s also has a bar featuring specialty cocktail drinks or wine you can share with your meal. If you want to check out their menu and more, click HERE.