The following story is the second in a series on how Monroe’s restaurants are weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
Bella Rosa Ristorante
500 Monroe Turnpike
Hours: Monday through Sunday from 12 to 9 p.m.
MONROE, CT — Doctors and nurses of Bridgeport Hospital’s Women’s Care Center recently received a delivery of 10 pizza pies from Dave Rodrigues’ restaurant, Bella Rosa Ristorante in Monroe.
A generous patron took advantage of Bella Rosa’s $10 special on large pies for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic: hospital personnel, police officers, firefighters and members of the Emergency Medical Services.
“It’s a nice feeling,” Rodrigues said. “I always like to help people out whenever I can. They’re doing a great job helping to keep people safe. My prayers go out to them.”
Rodrigues is an alumnus of Masuk High School’s Class of 1990. He and his wife, Sarah, live in town and three of the couple’s five children are still enrolled in the Monroe school system.
Rodrigues said he is grateful for the support Bella Rosa has received from its loyal patrons at a time when all restaurants are restricted to takeout and deliveries.
“I’ve always helped people in the community, donating to charities around town to sports and the schools,” he said. “I’ve always tried to help as much as I could and I feel they’re coming back now to support us, which is greatly appreciated.”
Bella Rosa Ristorante was already well-equipped for operating during the global pandemic as takeout orders account for a major part of its business.
Orders are taken over the phone, online at BellaRosaCT.com through Slice, and from GrubHub. Bella Rosa also has a phone app with a rewards program, which can be downloaded on Android or Apple products.
The restaurant has its own drivers for deliveries and it uses Uber Eats.
When people pick up an order themselves, Rodrigues said, “the customer calls when they arrive. Food is placed on a table on the patio outside, so it’s safe for our customers and our employees.”
He said most customers pay and tip with their credit cards over the phone to make the system as non-contact as possible.
Rodrigues said restaurant staff are all wearing gloves, using hand sanitizers and are constantly wiping down surfaces inside the restaurants throughout the day.
Bella Rosa has kept its full menu. Rodrigues said he has always sold a lot of pizza and his takeout customers have also been choosing from the restaurant’s variety of dinner options.
“We do a great steak dinner,” Rodrigues said of the ribeye. “We have chicken dishes, veal and salmon. We prepare a lot of homemade soups and breads and we also make Portuguese food.”
Bella Rosa has offered a “Dinner for 4” deal Sunday to Thursday for the last seven years, but now Rodrigues expanded it to seven days a week.
A family size portion of eggplant parmigiana over ziti or baked ziti with meatballs is $21.95 plus tax. For $26.95 plus tax customers can choose either chicken parmigiana, marsala or Francese over ziti.
“All come with salad and bread,” Rodrigues said. “It’s a great deal.”
Dinner with a glass of wine
Though takeout has been brisk, Rodrigues said the coronavirus pandemic has affected half of his business. With Bella Rosa’s dining room empty, it has been difficult for the restaurant’s waitstaff to find work.
“I’m trying my best to have them work behind the counter and on the phone to keep them going,” Rodrigues said.
Bella Rosa has a pending state application for a liquor license to serve beer and wine, so patrons may soon be able to toast the restaurant’s reopening.
“Once this is over and done with, everyone’s going to come out and enjoy themselves after being in the house so long,” Rodrigues said. “I’ll be happy to see everybody.”