LOWER SALFORD — When the owners of the new Bella Fiona Ristorante were looking for an existing restaurant to purchase during the pandemic, there were a lot of places available.
Most didn't quite seem to fit the bill, though, which included a strong loyal customer base and sustainable take-out business.
They found that at the former Brazzo Italian Cuisine at 700 Main Street in Harleysville.
Executive Chef Scott Wilder, his wife and General Manager Sabrina Wilder, Scott's sister and Vice President of Marketing Cheryl Wilder, and Managing Director Hal Nichter became the new owners and opened Bella Fiona on Nov. 1.
"Congratulations. This is a big endeavor and we are excited to have you here," Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steven Hunsberger said at a March 25 ribbon cutting.
Scott and Sabrina relocated from Maine to be part of the new business, Cheryl Wilder said in an interview following the ribbon cutting.
"The menu is primarily Italian, although, interestingly, because Scott and Sabrina were most recently from New England, Scott does a lot of seafood specials and he has the most fantastic clam chowder that he'll feature from time to time, so it's sort of interesting, you don't expect to find that at an Italian restaurant, but the customers love it," she said. "We've been able to mix things up a little bit beyond the traditional Italian menu."
Some of the same people who worked for Brazzo now work for Bella Fiona, she said.
"The cooks were here when we took ownership," she said.
The dining room, which had been closed, was reopened under the pandemic guidelines and some of the dining staff was brought back to work for Bella Fiona, she said.
Scott Wilder has over 30 years experience and apprenticed under Osvaldo Risi of Genoa, Italy. Sabrina Wilder received her culinary degree from Atlantic Culinary Academy in 2004 and has worked in a variety of positions including kitchen manager, service supervisor, chef and dining service director.
"I just want to say thank you to this amazing community," Sabrina Wilder said at the ribbon cutting.
A regular customer who knew that they had never before owned a restaurant recently asked what the biggest surprise had been in starting the business, she said. Her answer was the support that has been received.
"We, from the bottom of our hearts can't thank you enough," she said.
The Bella Fione Ristorante dining room is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
Take-outs or catering may be ordered at 215-256-4456 or online at bellafionaristorante.com.
"As the weather improves and COVID-19 restrictions loosen, outside dining will be opened and the restaurant will continue to evolve, fine-tuning the menu with even more Chef Specialties, and growing catering to host meetings and events," information provided for this article said.