Bluefield, VA Edition: Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders

By Candace Nelson - 10:55 AM

I'm not familiar with Virginia the way Chris is. When you live in West Virginia, you sometimes have to travel outside of the state to get what you actually need. For him, that means the neighboring Virginia area. For me, that's always been the Pittsburgh area. When I bought him tickets for a wrestling show in Pittsburgh, he thought it was forever away. To him, it was. When he told me we were going to Virginia for lunch, I thought it was forever away.

Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders is a chain restaurant all over the United States. I had never heard of, nor seen, one though, so I was definitely willing to try something new. We ventured to Bluefield, Va, for this small restaurant. Boasting "Grinders," which is what I would think of as a sub or hoagie, Bellacino's is the typical, run-of-the-mill fast Italian shop. It's small on the inside, with about a dozen seating areas. It seems as if most orders are to-go, as you order at the counter and the only menus are takeout ones or the one beneath the Plexiglas-glass on the counter.

After taking in the scenery - a little chef plastered on every piece of merchandise and the name "Bellacino's" splatter everywhere else - we grabbed a takeout menu, sat down and figured out our game plan. This is when I realized this wasn't a hometown cooking sort of restaurant ... when a restaurant has the ability to put their name on every thing, including the glass chandelier opposite of "coca-cola," they have some money. I knew immediately that I wanted the Italian grinder, their house specialty, because if they're saying that's the best thing on their menu, I have to have it. It had ham, sausage, salami, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. Chris opted for a meatball grinder, which is probably what I would've liked had I not gotten their specialty. We also ordered a small (8") pizza with black olives to split.

We filled our fountain drinks and had a seat. For what felt like forever. We listened to the workers talk loudly back and forth, and I impatiently refilled my cup a few times. When our food arrived, I was optimistic. Their "small" subs are 9", and the large ones are 18". We both got smalls, but they filled out the plates. I couldn't quite make eating this sandwich pleasant. It was very messy, and the ingredients were just slopped together. In one bite, I had all green pepper and onions. In another, I had only sausage and salami. I had a few occasional bites where most of the ingredients met, but they were few and far between. Instead, I received a sandwich that didn't impress. Eating plain sausage or plain green peppers doesn't cut it for me. Beyond that, the ingredients alone weren't impressive. I felt as though I was munching on a convenience store hoagie for $2. Which is okay.

Chris's grinder tasted much better. It was almost exactly like a Subway meatball sub, which I love, so it received high marks in my book. The meatballs were sliced, though, which was odd to me. It isn't necessarily a meat"ball" sandwich anymore, but it does seem as though it's easier to eat that way.

The pizza also was right down the middle - not great, not bad. Nothing stood out to me, and I probably wouldn't order it again. I would indulge if it was free, but it's not anything special to chase after. Overall, that was the impression I got with the whole restaurant - nothing impressed me, but I didn't dislike anything. Everything was just ... average.

Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders on Urbanspoon

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