Winter hot spot

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Music, parties and weeknight themes keep Bella  Vita Lakeside busy during winter months

By Beth Taylor

With a location overlooking Geist Reservoir, Bella Vita Lakeside is known as the place to be on a warm summer’s evening. Live music and special events keep the restaurant just as inviting during the cold winter months.

“We’re at a central location where everyone wants be. Our guests like to come in and have a cocktail or a beer, and they don’t have to go all the way to 96th Street,” said Tyler Garner, general manager of Bella Vita Lakeside. “We’re not tablecloth fine dining; we’re upscale casual dining.”

On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant provides live music to entertain guests while they relax and dine. The main floor bar area has ten flat screen TVs–ideal for those interested in viewing sports. “The circular bar is perfect for viewing games,” said Garner.

Locals frequent Bella Vita, giving it a neighborhood watering hole appeal. “We get quite a few regulars who come in once or twice each week, so we train our staff to ensure that every server is up to our standards,” said Garner. Bella Vita’s mostly Italian-inspired menu also offers a wide range of traditional favorites such as expertly prepared filet mignon and notable lobster mac and cheese.

“I enjoy coming here,” said Ed Joliffe, a Bella Vita regular. “It’s great food, and it’s just an enjoyable place to be.”

The glass-enclosed atrium has a dramatic open fireplace. “Even in the winter, guests can sit in the atrium and be warm and cozy while looking at the water,” said Garner.

The Geist-area hot spot can be reserved for private parties for receptions and special events, with enough space to accommodate 500 people. “The restaurant’s layout allows for a couple of different ways to utilize private space while still enabling customers to enjoy the atmosphere,” said Garner. Guests enjoying a private party on the mezzanine get a view of the restaurant below.

Geist resident Jim Shelton enjoyed having his retirement party at Bella Vita. “This is a great place to be, so I thought it was a good location for a party,” Shelton said. Shelton was celebrating passing on his business, Shelton Machinery, which he founded in 1988, to his son Nick Shelton and his son-in-law Jeff Tucker.

Garner enjoys accommodating patrons’ requests. “We had a marriage proposal here a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “We spelled out Will You Marry Me on a table with rose petals. She said, ‘yes’,” Garner said. “The couple came here when they first started dating, so it was a special connection. I was happy to help arrange it.” The restaurant erupted in applause for the couple as patrons watched the event unfold. “People were taking photos with their cellphones. It was a memorable night for the couple.”

To keep customers coming in, each weeknight has a special offering. When an adult entrée is purchased, kids eat free on Mondays and Tuesdays–typically the slowest nights of the week. Five dollar martinis on Wednesdays and half off the price of selected wines on Thursdays fill out the week. On Sundays, Bella Vita offers brunch accompanied by live jazz. “From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., we offer an amazing brunch. Our buffet includes all the favorites as well as some specialty items,” said Garner.

Garner was hired as Bella Vita’s general manager three months ago. He’s planning exterior updates to the building this spring.  “When the warmer weather returns, we have new events planned to utilize our outdoor space,” he said.

Bella Vita Lakeside

  • 11699 Fall Creek Rd. Indianapolis, IN 46256
  • 598-9011
  • bellavitaatthemarina.com
  • Winter Hours:
    • Sunday brunch: 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • Dinner:
      • Sundays – 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
      • Monday-Thursday – 4 p.m. -10 p.m.
      • Friday & Saturday – 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
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