Having a little bit of Italian heritage in my family, I am always on the search for local restaurants that serve authentic Italian meals. I recently stumbled upon J.Bella’s in Independence, located only 15-20 minutes outside of Salem. It’s situated in the most adorable building on Main Street, with floor-to-ceiling windows and atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve been welcomed warmly into someone else’s home. They have an extensive wine list and an adorable little corner wine bar in the back of the restaurant. They also serve Oregon micro brews such as Mirror Pond (my personal favorite).

J. Bella’s is one of the only fine dining restaurants I’ve been able to find recently that offers a generous salad and side dish within the price of your entree. Tough to find these days, especially with the way the economy has been going. J. Bella’s serves a variety of dishes ranging from pasta to antipasti, steaks, seafood and desserts. Make sure you save some room for dessert; because once you finish your meal you will be tempted with a decadent dessert tray.

My favorite dish at J. Bella’s is the baked chicken manicotti with spinach and prosciutto, topped with bubbling mozzarella cheese and a Parmesan cheese sauce. Yum! The portions are very generous, and to top it off, you receive fresh veggies and fancy garlic bread on the side. I would also recommend J. Bella’s lasagna, as it towers high (at almost 6 layers!) and is filled with delicious Italian sausage. Very filling, but often plenty for dinner and lunch the following day!

So if you’re looking for a great place to warm up this winter, take a romantic date at an affordable price or simply try something new, stop by J. Bella’s in Independence. You won’t be disappointed!

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