ONEIDA, NY – Bella Vita Cafe has expanded its operations with the addition of a Sunday afternoon bakery.
The cafe will now be known as Bella Vita Cafe and Bakery. It will expand its range of Italian breads and pastries. The bakery will offer Italian bread and Italian cookies made on site. The café and bakery also offer products from Holland Farms. It also offers self-serve coffee from The Cracked Bean Roastery.
“We brought a bit of Utica to Oneida,” said owner Lori Seef.
The bakery offers chocolate meatball cookies, Italian wedding cookies, biscotti, pizzicatti, ricciarelli. Other items include Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread, Snickerdoodles, Blueberry Scones, and Zucchini Bread Cake and Carrot Cake Scones. Specialties include maple bacon scones with maple bourbon and orange chocolate glaze, almond biscotti with chocolate ganache, and pina colada muffins.
“We have many new breads and pastries available,” Seef said. “Many of our products are gluten-free.”
The Bella Vita Cafe opened in August 2021. It is located at 115 Main St., Oneida. It offers dine-in and take-out. Its menu can be viewed on its Facebook page. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, and the cafe is closed Sunday. The cafe number is (315) 367-5001.
The bakery will feature a mesmerizing painting of the Greek goddess Medusa while the cafe retains traditional Italian decor and a soundtrack featuring artists like Frank Sinatra.
Bella Vita is the result of a year of hard work and perseverance.
Seef, a Oneida native and cafe owner, ran Cazenovia Walgreen’s for 25 years. In February 2021, she developed bronchial pneumonia which led to a COVID-19 infection. As she recovered from her illness, she was forced to think about her future.
“Doctors told me I couldn’t breathe like I used to, and so I couldn’t move and work like I used to,” she said. “I had run the store for so long and now I didn’t know what to do or how I was going to retire.”
Seef’s illness left her with permanent scars on her lungs and she still suffers from a chronic cough.
“You gotta love bronchial pneumonia,” she said.
Seef’s fiance, George, offered a solution. He took her to the old WJ Hinman’s Jewelers store he had recently purchased. “I asked, ‘Why did you bring me here?’ George asked me what my biggest dreams were. I told him that I had always wanted to own a cafe. He pointed to the building and said, ‘This is your wedding present.’ »
And so Bella Vita coffee (Italian for “the good life”) was born. It thrived on the hard work of Seef.
“It’s been a long year, a year with a lot of learning,” Seef said. “You learn to take life one day at a time and never take life for granted.”