Nov 3, 2012: RRDG Dinner at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffè

The Bella Viva in full swing – View from outside.

Rally Round Downtown Gilroy friends and supporters rallied at the soon-to-be-opened Bella Viva restaurant for the inaugural event at this new and exciting venue. A traditional multi-course Italian dinner, a gathering of friends, new and old, and the welcoming of a new enterprise opening up in our beloved downtown resulted in an evening to remember. The food, prepared by Chef Ardjan Braho, was superb (you can take a look at the menu by clicking here). There were multiple choices for each course, and, if you were lucky, you were sitting with others who shared a bite or two of the dishes you didn’t order. There were some lively discussions of which dish was the favorite, but every dish was delicious.

All of this took a lot of work on the part of a gang of dedicated people, led by Kellen McBain, owner of the Bella Viva. Kellen has practically taken up residence in the restaurant over the past few months, managing a crew of artisans and builders as they made his designs become a reality. Kellen was a hands-on leader who did a tremendous amount of the work himself. And the results are a beautiful venue, warm and welcoming, in a distinctive, yet very comfortable, style. Bricks and stone line the walls in the main dining/wine bar area, bringing a sense of roots and old-world tradition to the ambience. The veranda/patio/outside dining area (as you can see, I’m not sure exactly what to call it) remained a bright and welcoming environment long after the sun had set, with the fireplace (unlit on a warmish November evening) providing a focal point and a sense of welcome.

RRDG extends its thanks and a deep appreciation for all the last minute efforts that the construction crews, friends and family put in to get the restaurant ready to serve a crowd of 60 guests in a venue where the construction has not yet been quite completed. Cleaning, mopping, touch-ups and other preparations were going on right up to the last minute. Special Thanks to Mom and Dad McBain, who pitched in and bused tables and did scut work to ensure the success of an unforgettable evening. Lindsey, Kellen’s wife, was behind the bar and making the rounds. All of the staff were professional, pleasant, and kept the diners supplied with delicious delicacies throughout the evening.

Not that there were no quirks or glitches: the cleaning crew moved all the plates, glassware and utensils out of there designated locations and didn’t put them back; the oven didn’t work, so Chef Braho and his crew had to beg a favor from the Garlic City Cafe and use their convection ovens to make sure the hot dishes were heated up. (Many thanks to Diego and Margarita for their generous cooperation!) But the guests were all relaxed and happy, willing to eat a meal served on Italian time (the last course came out around 9:30) and enjoy the evening.

In the end, it all paid off! We all ate well, smiles and laughter were the order of the evening, and by the end of the feast we knew that we had gotten more than our money’s worth. One of the few complaints was that there was Too Much Food!

It will be a few weeks before the final details are in place and the Bella Viva opens its doors to the public, and most of us who attended the RRDG feast are eager to go back for another round of Chef Braho’s fantastic cooking.

Finally, special thanks to Sandy of ‘La Dolce Vita’ for coming up with the lavender sachets at the last minute (she put them together herself and delivered them personally), a small memento of the evening for the guests to take home.

Take a look at the slide show below for a few glimpses into this special evening.

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