We've been intrigued ever since Dana Kopp Franklin reported in January that Emma Berkey and Dave Cuomo, the team behind Bella Nashville, the artisan wood-fired pizza spot in the Nashville Farmers' Market, were planning the bread bakery and retail store in East Nashville (on Fatherland Street next to the Vietnamese restaurant Far East Nashville).
We could only restrain ourselves a couple days after launch before popping over at lunch time and picking up a few things for the folks at Bites World HQ to try.
Breakfast Bun with cream cheese: This is a really unique breakfast item. Savory bakers never use a lot of sugar in their treats, and this bun is in that tradition. If you're a fan of a more European approach to breakfast, you'll love this bun. It's not much sweeter than a bagel with cream cheese, topped with slivered almonds. If you're expecting a big hit of sugar to start you're day, you'll be disappointed. ($3.50)
Ham and cheese on baguette: I liked that the grill press put a good toasting on the baguette, with piping hot melted cheese. The ham was salty, but not overpowering. ($6)
Roast Beef on sourdough: Again, the sandwich was prepared and then pressed and toasted thin, making it very dense. The roast beef was fresh and delicious (not stringy, like we've run into with a few roast beef sandwiches around town lately) and came with pickled onion and a horseradish aoli. ($8)
Demi baguette and whole wheat desem: The biggest star of the bakery from our fly-by was the loaves. We picked up a little extra butter to slather over slices. The French-style white baguette has that great outer crust while the interior, while dense, still has excellent pockets that are irregularly sized and unevenly spaced. (Note: if you ever slice into a baguette elsewhere and find it's uniformly dense all the way through, throw it away. It's garbage). The whole wheat loaf was similarly excellent. Great crust on the outside, dense and flavorful inside and perfect with some butter on it. ($3.50 and $6.50)
The attraction to Bella is in their process. They use organic flours, natural starters, and I could even hear them grinding the whole wheat when I was in there. I wish they were on my drive home, as I'd be tempted to pop in for a loaf every few days.
Bella Bakery Nashville
1010 Fatherland St.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday