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La Bella Vita: Good food, live music and the Pizza Dance

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LA BELLA VITA

106-09 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

835-6161

Fax 718-835-7280

Maybe you have heard of the new group dance - post hokey pokey, chicken dance and macarena. Either way, you can dine at La Bella Vita, home of the Pizza Dance- - a block from Aqueduct in Ozone Park.

You can watch it on TV as you dine. You can even learn to do it from the owner and originator Tony Modica. There are lyrics and even a CD. The dance recreates in six easy moves the actual motions of making a pizza - everything from banging, shaking and spinning the dough to putting it in the oven.

When Tony, who sings and writes music, watched his crew making pizza and saw the good time they were having, the idea came to him to fashion a dance based on the movements they went through.

Modica came from Sicily, started delivering pizzas all over Queens by bike and went on to making them and then owning several restaurants. Fifteen years ago he started La Bella Vita. The community was good to him and now he wants to reciprocate.

At La Bella Vita, there's a kids' pizza buffet for schools and camps at $3.99 (tax included) with unlimited pizza, unlimited soda and a lesson on doing the Pizza Dance, plus Tony's message of unity and understanding of other cultures.

Buffets are the thing at La Bella Vita. There's a lunch buffet and a dinner buffet. On Thursdays there's a DJ and, yes, there's a session on doing the Pizza Dance. On Tuesday nights, it's live music and entertainment, and, of course, the Pizza Dance.

We were there on a Tuesday. The entrance way is grotto-like with a large room for catering with mirrors and paintings up a few steps. Down a few steps is a large all-brick room with brick arches and statuary and white tablecloths. A buffet is set up in the corner with appetizers and hot dishes: pasta, lasagna, fresh fish, calamari, mussels, chicken, steak, meatballs, and chocolate cake squares.

Or you can dine a la carte. A blackboard is rolled over with the specials of the day. Fresh asparagus was the appetizer for me. What a treat! They were well-buttered and lemoned and had a delicious crumb topping. Good bread and four slim slices of pizza proceeded it (nice idea).

My companion's hot appetizer elicited raves: the mussels, the clams, the calamari, the stuffed eggplant

I hadn't had manicotti in marinara sauce in a long, long time (Have you?) and it was a special treat. He had veal with mozzarella and proscuito in a lush lemony sauce - four bundles stacked around a mound of mashed potatoes.

We were surprised there was only the house chocolate cake for dessert that night, but found it simple and very good - an unfrosted square that went well with the cappuccino.

La Bella Vita has more than the Pizza Dance to recommend it. It could make it on food alone.

It was now 9 o'clock and the musician spent a goodly amount of time setting up and adjusting the amplifying system and the disco lights. So we had an after-dinner drink - Jager Meister

By 10 the good times began to roll - danceable music, a good-sized dance floor and Tony singing and a friend singing. And, yes, they were going to do the Pizza Dance!

At 11 this Cinderella had to leave, with only the TV version of the Pizza Dance in her head.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Here you can not only eat your pizza but learn the new group dance craze, originated by the owner, the Pizza Dance: banging, shaping, spinning and putting it in the oven - That's amore! Southern Italian food that could stand on its own. Buffet lunch and buffets on Thursday and Friday with DJ. Tuesday night buffet and a la carte with live music and entertainment. Service good.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Mozzarella, Tomato and Basi1...$4.99 Baked Clams...$5.99 Sicilian Style Steak...$11.95 Veal Franchaise...$8.95 Salmon French Style (with lemon, capers, and wine)...$7.95

Food: Southern Italian Setting: Brick lined Service: Good Hours: L & D 7 days Parking: Lot Reservations: Yes Location: One black from Aqueduct Credit cards: All major Children: Own menu Private parties: To 250 Noise level: Moderate Handicapped accessible: Stairs - will assist

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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