Exquisite Mediterranean Cuisine
Change is never easy, but for one San Antonio couple, a recent change has allowed for amazing growth and exciting new opportunity. David and Carol Snyder have recently reinvented their beautiful restaurant, Bella on the River, and relocated to Houston Street, right next door to the Majestic Theatre.
Bella on Houston still maintains its excellent culinary standards, with their hearty and exquisitely diverse Mediterranean menu. Chef Sean Fletcher still leads an outstanding staff of talented cooks in the kitchen, while David and Carol direct a top-notch team at the front of the house. Many of the employees at Bella on Houston have been with the restaurant from the beginning when this dynamic couple envisioned a quaint, European bistro right on the Riverwalk almost eight years ago. Bella was forced to move last year when a condo project took over the building that housed their previous restaurant. This did not stop them from moving forward with a new décor concept while holding true to the flavors that have made Bella a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The restaurant has doubled in size, and where the previous Bella had an Old-World charm, the new version of Bella is sleek and modern. The menu changes with the seasons a few times a year, and you will usually find a daily special and wine pairing suggestions that are carefully planned by the Bella team. Chef Sean Fletcher is a classically French-trained chef. He is calm and polite, and very soft-spoken. He believes that “It is the flavor and the execution that sets Bella apart, incorporating traditional Mediterranean flavors with a modern flair.”
Bella on Houston has several signature dishes on the menu, as well as new and creative recipes to keep the menu fresh. One of their most popular appetizers has always been their Eggplant Josephine. It is a deceptively complicated creation with layers of flavor and texture, featuring pan-fried eggplant stacked with sautéed Texas Gulf Shrimp, and enveloped in Hollandaise sauce and mozzarella cheese, with a dash of their delicious Sauce Diablo. It’s an explosion of flavors that leaves you trying to decipher what you are tasting with each addicting bite. Another fan favorite is their Spanish Paella. There aren’t many restaurants featuring this high maintenance dish, but Bella does an outstanding version with fresh Texas Gulf Shrimp, fresh clams, Prince Edward Island Mussels, Chicken, Spanish Chorizo, roasted vegetables and, of course, Spanish saffron rice. Tender peas add a touch of color to the paella and help to make this dish a destination meal in itself.
On the winter menu at the moment, Chef Sean has created a delicious entrée featuring Barramundi served with quinoa risotto and winter vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, fennel, and beets. The entire plate is served with a parsley oil halo, and the creamy risotto perfectly complements the light and flaky texture of the fish. This dish was also on the menu for Culinaria’s Restaurant Week in January and was one of the memorable dishes of the event.
The new interior at Bella on Houston is so warm and inviting that you will want to linger long after the last bite has been savored, so you might as well indulge in one of their outstanding desserts. Their most popular dessert is a recipe that was created by a friend, and it is still named after her.
Virginia’s Pistachio Cake is a deliciously sweet ending to a fabulous meal. The cake is incredibly moist without being too sweet, and the pistachio icing topped with more pistachios is definitely one that you will remember for a long time.
Downtown San Antonio is buzzing right now, with new construction, new restaurants and a general atmosphere of progress and change. It’s a great time to live in the Alamo City. And for a city that often views itself as being behind the times, all of this change is going to make us a force to be reckoned with. Change is good for San Antonio, and also for the amazing crew behind Bella on Houston, where the old has definitely embraced the new.
By Meredith Kay
Photography by Janet Rogers