Bistro Bella Vita

    Business Stats

  • Founded by Robert Woodrick in 1997 and inspired by his desire to bring high-quality dining typically found in big cities to Grand Rapids.
  • Purchased by the Essence Restaurant Group in 2006.
  • Bradley Teachout is General Manager, Aaron VanTimmeran is Head Chef, and Dan Blanchard is Chef de Cuisine.
  • First farm-to-table restaurant in West Michigan, partnering with Ingraberg Farm in Rockford since 1997.
  • Features fresh, natural mediterranean country cuisine made from scratch with as many local ingredients as possible.
  • Named 2011 “Restaurant of the Year” by Grand Rapids Magazine
  • Supports Local First and Kids’ Food Basket.
  • Recycles all waste, uses dye-free paper products, and prints all promotional materials on 100% PCW content paper.

Bistro Bella Vita

The Essence Restaurant Group creates extraordinary dining experiences with its family of unique restaurants, famous in West Michigan for their fabulous service, friendly staff, creative cuisine, and superior beverage.

For Managing Partner James Berg, “It’s all about the experience. We’re grateful for every person who walks through the door of our restaurants, and we want to ensure each guest is completely satisfied. We’re a tight-knit group of culinary professionals who are passionate and proud of what we do. Every day, we look for ways to improve and get better. Professionally and personally, we want to make a difference – not just in dining experiences but also in food transparency and sustainable practices in the community.”

The Essence Group’s first farm-to-table restaurant, Bistro Bella Vita, exemplifies their philosophy of going above and beyond to deliver the ultimate dining experience by serving fresh, creative cuisine prepared with as many local ingredients as possible. From one season to the next, year after year, the Bistro Bella Vita team works collectively to make each guest’s visit an experience they’ll savor, leaving a lasting impression the Bistro staff hopes will bring guests back again.

Online reviews of Bistro Bella Vita rave about the boeuf bourguignonne, gluten-free entrées, excellent wine list, awesome martinis, comfortable atmosphere, and attentive, knowledgeable service. For several years, Grand Rapids Magazine readers have voted the Bistro as offering the “Best Martini.” In 2011, it was named “Restaurant of the Year” by the magazine.

In 2012, Executive Chef Patrick Wise and his wife Julie were presented with the Local Hero Award by Local First for their sustainability practices, and in 2013, the Essence Restaurant Group received the Local First Mover & Shaker Award for demonstrating a significant shift in their supply chain to local.

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