By Jane Knoerle
Almanac Lifestyles Editor
The neon martini glass sign is dark. The jukebox in the bar is silent. The Bella Vista restaurant, known by generations for its dazzling view of the city lights below, closed on Aug. 10.
"After 35 years, we've decided to call it a day. It's been a great experience, but it's time to go. Thank you for all the great years," says owner John Ward on the restaurant's answering machine. The restaurant's website says the Ward family bought the restaurant in 1979; however, the building dates back to 1927.
Nestled in a grove of redwood trees on Skyline Boulevard, Bella Vista was noted for its "continental cuisine," as well as its spectacular view. Bella Vista was a restaurant where tuxedo-clad waiters flambeed steak Diane or cherries jubilee in the dining room.
Oysters Rockeller? Escargot? Grand Marnier souffle? These retro dishes were Bella Vista favorites.
Generations marked birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other special occasions with dining at Bella Vista. It was considered the perfect place to pop the question and, of course, was always packed on Valentine's Day. For many years, including this year, Bella Vista has won the Almanac's Readers' Choice award for best romantic restaurant.
Longtime patrons are on Facebook lamenting Bella Vista's closing, remembering the 35th wedding anniversary or milestone birthday they celebrated there. "A lot of people are very sad about it," says Almanac reporter and Woodside resident Barbara Wood.