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Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 11 a.m.

Frugal Friday at Bella Italia - get the perfect slice for the perfect price

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

A perfect slice — that's what you'll get at Bella Italia Pizza and Pasta, today's Frugal Floozie Friday feature.  I grew up in New York City eating fabulous pizza.  I expect a certain cheese blend, a sauce with flavor and zest (and just enough sauce, rather than gobs of it), a crisp crust, and the ability to fold my slice without it drooping.  This pizza was perfect!

My friend Jesse Bernstein had recommended Bella Italia to me with such devotion that I simply had to visit:

"The owners are a young couple who have perfected and replicated the Dandy Pizza experience precisely.  Dandy's was a pizzeria on Whitney Avenue, run by a Sicilian family who spoke no English but knew what you were ordering.  My sister said she has been searching for 40 years to find the taste and here it was in Ann Arbor.  This was confirmed by another neighborhood resident who now lives here and confirmed our assessment."

Ah, taste memory — that oh, so elusive and indefinable entity that is rarely satisfied!

Well, let me chime in that the pizza was just like what I remembered eating years ago, as well.  That it perfectly fit our mandatory frugal budget of $5 per person — the 16-inch pizza with one topping was $14.50, making it perfect for my party of three — only made it better.

Bella Italia has a friendly and welcoming staff, including Jim Millan who owns the restaurant with his wife, Katie.  And it offers lots of great deals that meet our Frugal Floozie Friday budget.  There are even lunch specials for less than $4 — a 10-inch pizza with one topping, lovely pasta dishes, a rich tiramisu — each a very generous portion.

You can buy two slices of pizza for $5 or less if you pick cheese and/or pepperoni; a slice of a specialty pizza costs $3. Half salads (Caesar, Garden or Greek) cost just under $5. And the calzone, stromboli, and hot subs are a great deal — ranging in price from $7.75-$9.75 and easily split with a loved one to meet the mandatory budget constraints without anyone going hungry.

If you fancy yourself a competitive eater, you could either eat for free or earn yourself a share of $200 — even better deals than $5 per person!

If three people can finish a 30-inch pizza — with any toppings from cheese to an abundance of goodies — you can get it for free if you can eat the entire thing in 30 minutes or less. Or, if you think you and just one partner can polish off the 30"-inch Meat Lovers' pizza — topped with several pounds of sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and ham — within 60 minutes, you'll win yourselves $200.

As we ate dinner with Motown classics playing in the background, it was a perfect warm spring evening.  We had a great time at Bella Italia for a very reasonable price, and look forward to eating there again.

Bella Italia Pizza and Pasta 895 Eisenhower Parkway (in the Colonnade shopping center) Ann Arbor, MI 48103 734-222-9993 Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday: Noon-11 p.m. Sunday: 4-10 p.m.

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.  And be sure to look for her monthly articles about holiday foods and traditions in the Washtenaw Jewish News.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Have been going here for years. By far and away the BEST Italian food in the A2 area without a doubt! And I'm Italian, with most of my family still in NY, and some in Italy, so I speak from experience. The Gnocchi is outstanding. Very small shop, nothing fancy, but it blows away Palio, Gratzi, Algerieos(sp??). HUGE Pasta dish with salad and garlic knots for <$12. Really, the food is amazing here, and the pizza is as close as one can get to NYC style, NYPD comes close and another hole in the wall place in Dearborn.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Glad to hear about Bella Italia. Have planned to go there for years and it always slips my mind. I will redouble my efforts to make it there. Nypd is also good, But ARGERIO'S is the worst "Italian" restaurant I have ever eaten at. I have given it three chances over the years, and finally learned my lesson. The food there is inedible.

Mary Bilyeu

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

You and E Claire share the same passion for these dishes - quite an endorsement!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

I love the Frugal Friday...and almost ALWAYS end up checking out the places you recommend. This place is RIGHT down the street from me, and honestly I would have never bothered to check them out until I read this! Now I will for sure!

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Oh, I'm so thrilled to find out that you go to the places I write about - that's one of my great goals, to support the local restaurants and have others do the same! As I said in an earlier comment, sometimes we just drive right on by the same ol' thing every day, and someone new to the neighborhood needs to nudge us a bit. I love finding a new place and letting everyone else know about it, too ... :)

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

I'm a big pizza fan. To me there's no such thing as a bad pizza. Just some are a whole lot better than others. I will definitely give this place a try.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Never presume that just because it's bad pizza that it's leftover pizza! It can be tinkered with! (I also have a 21 year old son ... 'nough said.) I was at the Anchor Bar in Detroit last night and ordered the famous Totchos - tater tots topped with chili and cheese. That made a fabulous breakfast ....

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

One womans bad pizza is another mans breakfast. Drop your bad pizza by my house. I'll give it a proper disposal. ;)

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

I'm not quite as generous as you are - I've had bad pizza at times. But the pizza at Bella Italia was so, so good! I hope you love it!

E Claire

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Bella Italia has the best food! Their pasta dishes put Palio and Gratzi to shame and cost half the price. I typically get three meals out of one entree. Also nice that the owners are a young local couple.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

The portions are generous, and it's wonderful to support a local business and a nice family ... :)


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

I have never noticed it in there; I plan to try it soon! As always, I enjoy reading the frugal Friday postings!

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

There are places you can drive by 143 times and just not see them, especially with all the traffic on that road and just trying to get where you need to go. Bella Italia is tucked away on the Panera end of the Colonnade's semicircle, and is definitely worth finding ... :)