It’s no secret that there are a plethora of superlative restaurants to dine in in Dubai, but finding something that has a family atmosphere can be a rarity.
Bella Restaurant, which was launched at the end of last year, is one of those restaurants that guarantees exceptional Italian cuisine, also offering excellent dishes and service, which comes from classic Italian hospitality creating a real local atmosphere.
Bella’s restaurant manager Stefano Bassanese leads the way in exceptional service. Putting himself at the heart of the restaurant, Bassanese ensures that his guests don’t just have dinner, they have a complete dining experience from the moment they walk through the door, until it’s time to leave.
As he says, at the base of the profession that he and his team embody are “integrity, values and culture”
Emirates woman sat down with Bassanese to discover the true essence of Bella and what it really takes to successfully create an exceptional dining experience from start to finish.
Can you tell us about your professional background?
It’s safe to say that hospitality runs in my blood. Four generations before me ran a family restaurant. I was born with a white jacket and black pants – that’s what servers traditionally wore in the late 1970s when I first walked through the door of the family restaurant.
I then traveled the world and worked on four different continents for some of the most prestigious brands in the hospitality industry.
What inspired you to get into the F&B industry?
Since 1977, I started spending my summers and my school holidays with my father and his waiters in their white jackets and black pants. I was extremely impressed with the beauty of the service, starting with the silver cutlery, the wine poured into the crystal glasses and the linen tablecloths.
What do you like about what you do?
I love Bella because my team and I have put in place the foundations of this profession which are: integrity, values and culture. Every decision is made based on what will make the customer feel welcome at Bella.
What finally brought you to Dubai?
Even with companies in Italy, in 1998 I began to travel the world, following my wife Lorena, who in 1996 won the prize for the best hairdresser in the world championship. From there, 20 years passed on three different continents and now I discover the fourth.
How does the food and beverage industry differ here from other places in the world?
I think there is no substantial difference because it is about emotions. I know that working in different outlets of Italian food and all things Italian is in one way or another fascinating for everyone in the world because it is the most diversity that exists.
Bella opened late last year. Can you tell us about the history of the restaurant?
Named after its owner, Bella is Dubai’s quintessential Italian dining destination. Traditional and thoughtful in its service, contemporary in its take on popular cuisine, bold and disruptive in its atmosphere. Bella is a fascinating social hotspot with stunning views of the Dubai Canal, city skyline and the iconic Burj Khalifa.
With its decor that is both relaxed and elegant, Bella pays homage to the great Italian classics imbued with slight Asian influences.
What sets Bella apart from other restaurants in Dubai?
Bella is a constant imperfect outlet, every day, with passion and enthusiasm, we improve, with the hope, one day, of reaching perfection.
What are the hero dishes, in your opinion, at Bella?
All the ingredients are the protagonists and the hero of our dishes and what makes them special is the preparation made with passion in our kitchen by our chefs and finishing them in front of the guests. Giving an extra touch that personalizes the culinary journey, giving the customer the feeling of being back in the 80s.
What was it like opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic?
It is in difficult times that we are called to give the best of ourselves, to reinvent ourselves, and in these moments, magic can work. A rainbow of unexpected opportunities often arise during important moments, in fact… BELLA was born! Our goal will be to create memories, special moments that our customers will always cherish. We want to bring the care and love back into the game, putting our guests at the center of the conversation and ensuring Bella becomes that haven of comfort and joy, like a home away from home!
What does a typical day at Bella look like for you?
No two days are alike for me, although there are definitely a few things that are part of my daily routine. Every morning starts with monitoring the reviews our customers leave on TripAdvisor – it’s my addiction. I like to see how Bella is doing and address anything negative as soon as possible. Because of my role at Bella, I often see my name popping up in reviews and luckily they’re usually great, giving me a boost in my step for the day ahead.
The first and probably most important meeting of the day, a meeting with Abigail our CRM to go through reservations – we like to make sure everyone is well taken care of at Bella so if there is a special occasion, we want this guest to feel like a king. I then go to see chef Alessandro, to tell him that I love him, it’s not a joke. Our relationship is amazing. We are the perfect duo and have worked together for years. Sure, things can get intense during the service, but we tell each other everyday that we love each other – then he tells me to get out of his kitchen!
The rest of the day is a balance between meetings with my team and time on the floor for duty. I’m still nervous even now, it’s the sweetest feeling to welcome new guests as if they were our long lost families! That special touch of magic is what people love most about Bella.
What obstacles have you encountered in your career?
Navigating the restaurant and hospitality industry with the difficulties that Covid-19 has presented has been the toughest hurdle of my career, but it has given me the opportunity to learn how to adapt. at every obstacle. They say you are never too old to learn new skills and learn how to adapt operations in accordance with government restrictions to keep my team and our guests safe while enjoying their experience at Bella, was both stimulating and enriching.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are milestones?
The greatest honor of my career has been to be named Knight of the Italian Republic. This award was for special merit in promoting friendly relations and cooperation between Hong Kong and Italy and fostering ties with Italy. This nomination was given by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.
What do you see next for Bella Dubai?
Bella is just getting started. In the coming months we will be introducing a new experience for our guests in the Bella Lounge with a full entertainment program. Alongside this, we will soon be opening Bella’s private dining room with bespoke experiences with Chef Alessandro Miceli. This “secret room” will only be available to a select number of guests a few days a week and will be a completely personalized experience for them, providing them with a dining experience they can only get at Bella.
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Images: Bella Restaurant Instagram