Beauty spot

A steak salad is served with onion, gorgonzola cheese, cherry tomato, spring mix and black garlic vinaigrette.

A steak salad is served with onion, gorgonzola cheese, cherry tomato, spring mix and black garlic vinaigrette.


Bella Vita Bistro & Catering Company is open Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit

Bella Vita Bistro is a new Carson eatery opened by a family that runs a catering company. It occupies a highly renovated space that was formerly home to a chain sandwich shop. There’s plenty of seating at both pub-style and lower tables, a full bar, occasional low-key live music, and a Sunday brunch menu.

Upon being seated, my group and I were served water in a swing-top, old-timey bottle with complimentary house-fried potato chips and parmesan garlic aioli. The chips were inconsistent—some crispy, others chewy—and a little over-seasoned to be served alongside the flavorful aioli dip.

A good Tampa-style Cuban sandwich ($12) is one of my favorite things, and though the variant we tasted was a decent, tasty meal, it didn’t quite ring true as a “sandwich Cubano.” Made with house-smoked pork, prosciutto, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic aioli on a French roll, it lacked the crispy, pressed texture of the real deal. The meats and cheese were fine, but the bread and butter pickle chips and garlic aioli were no substitute for strong dill pickles and mustard. A side of tomato bisque tasted mostly of dried herbs and salt, strangely lacking in tomato flavor.

The big bird sandwich ($11) featured grilled chicken breast, bacon, melted jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and chipotle aioli on a French roll. Everything about this sandwich was on point, with moist chicken and crispy bacon accented by a fair amount of chipotle spice. A side of beef vegetable soup included fresh veggies and mushrooms, with big chunks of beef that tasted of being cooked in sherry or some other fortified wine.

Sometimes less is more, though the “Fun Guy” burger ($13) was made by someone who could care less. The one-third pound patty was ordered medium rare and arrived a solid medium, topped with crimini mushroom, truffled caramelized onion, arugula and house barbecue sauce on a brioche bun. Though slightly overdone, the meat was moist and well seasoned, and the mushrooms and arugula provided a nice contrast of earthy and spicy notes.

Fish and chips ($13) with house tartar sauce and battered steak fries included small, moist and flaky pieces of fish enrobed in a suitably crispy fried batter. The sauce was just right. The flavor of the chips was pretty good, though they were surprisingly on the limp and floppy side.

The day’s special was a turkey melt ($11) with sliced roast turkey, avocado, brie and garlic aioli on grilled sourdough. It was creamy, crispy, savory and looked pretty on the plate, though the bottom slices of bread were overdone and quite black. Sure, I flip the burned side to the bottom at home, but this was almost dark enough to warrant a do-over. The side salad of cherry tomato, crouton and spring mix with wild berry vinaigrette was fresh and inviting.

A steak salad ($14) ordered medium rare with red onion, gorgonzola, cherry tomato, spring mix and black garlic vinaigrette won the day on both execution and simplicity. The steak was tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the dressing was dynamite. I can’t recall the last time I had a steak salad this well executed, and it gave me hope that the few missteps were simply due to the growing pains of transitioning from caterer to restaurateur.