Having been born in the Bronx to Italian American parents, it is my birthright to seek out and enjoy the best Italian food in any area I live or visit, especially pizza. Unfortunately, the further west on my travels, the less authenticity I am likely to find.
Having lived in southern Utah for more than a decade, I have found only one place that has delivered on every level authentic Italian food and by far the best pizza in St. George.
Bella Marie’s is the culinary baby of Richard Doerr and Marie Perez. The amount of love and dedication that always comes with owning and operating a restaurant is evident in what they produce. They moved here from New Jersey for the climate and the area’s reputation for fast growth. They opened Bella Marie’s located at 1487 S. Silicon Way in St. George in 2009 and have steadily built a reputation by preparing their pizza dough fresh daily, hand-tossing every pizza and using the freshest ingredients available stemming from recipes developed by Marie herself over a lifetime.
Richard has been handcrafting pizza since he was a teenager in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and has been creating and serving food his entire career. Marie, whose first love is food, also earned her degree in nursing and was interested in serving fare that was not only authentic but healthier without sacrificing essence and authenticity. Success is what happened when they set out to do well by others. Together, they have created unbromated, unbleached, MSG-free pizza dough that remains true to the Italian culture and is healthier.
Pizza is prepared with various toppings or cheese only and always served with traditional condiments such as garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and of course Parmesan cheese. Bella Marie’s also serves pizza by the slice ranging from $1.99 to $2.35, and for a few bucks more, you can add a soda and a salad. Sicilian varieties also available.
Upon arrival at Bella Marie’s this particular evening, we were welcomed warmly by our server, Harley. After being seated, we settled on an appetizer, mussels with bacon and lemon butter. These arrived on the half-shell, and the bacon had the perfect amount of smokiness to accentuate the mussels. Next arrived my entree of grilled tilapia served over a bed of spinach and garlic. The fish was perfectly moist and an adequate portion. My husband ordered what I nicknamed a “Poor Man’s Surf and Turf,” which consisted of flat-grilled beef tenderloin, smoky provolone cheese, grilled onion, and bell peppers sitting atop a romaine salad drizzled with balsamic dressing and topped with grilled shrimp, french fries, and ranch dressing. There were no leftovers, no to go box, no doggy bag.
Dining at Bella Marie’s for me is the next best thing to Sunday dinner with my family, listening the old standards by Sinatra and the Rat Pack and breaking good bread with good people all in an atmosphere that says “welcome home.”