Open since: May

Location: The restaurant is the first to open in Buford's new Buford Village center, located at the corner of Buford Highway and Hamilton Mill Road in Buford.

Hours: Bella Vita is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Owner: Laurie Attaway

Atmosphere: Bella Vita, Italian for "beautiful life," is a restaurant abounding with modern charm. From the upholstery and linens to the locally created iron and glasswork art, the restaurant exudes an urban, upscale feel.

Its location in the retail center has a large bay window and is lined with intimate tables for two and four. More tables, along with banquet seating in the back allow for approximately 100 people.

In addition to the main dining room, Bella Vita, which is deceptively large, allows for large parties with two additional eating areas. The first is a large space, partitioned off with floor to ceiling curtains hosting a 12-person dining table, perfect for a large family gatherings. The second space is a back room, lined with wine racks and dark wood reminiscent of old-world Italy, which is available to reserve for special events. The restaurant plans to eventually offer family-style Italian dining for special groups.

The restaurant's modest bar area offers high-top bar tables which face the open kitchen partitioned with glass for diners to watch.

Menu: The restaurant's menu is stuffed with Italian ingredients. Appetizers include prosciutto and cantaloupe, calamari, mussels and a cheese plate. A classic Caesar and house salad accompany a caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. Specialties include a three cheese crab lasagna, made with jumbo shrimp and asparagus, along with a creamy gorgonzola walnut ravioli with artichokes, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. The menu's staples - spaghetti, fettucini, manicotti and chicken marsala - are all served with in-house created sauces.

"One thing Bella Vita has going for it is its lunch," Attaway said. "It has a large menu at very affordable prices which make it a great place for a business lunch."

For options other than pasta, the menu offers a filet mignon, thick cut pork chop and the favored lamb osso bucco, slow roasted with cippolini onions, mushrooms, olives and potato gnocchi.

The desserts are all homemade classic dishes like tiramisu and panna cotta, an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar and letting it set. It is served with fresh berries.

Things you might not know: Restauranteur Laurie Attaway also owns and operates downtown Buford's Aqua Terra, 37 Main: A Speakeasy and Third Coast Grille at Lake Lanier. She also plans to open Bin 33 Wine Boutique next door to Bella Vita soon. Bin 33 will be a retail store to sell wine from small vineyards all over the world and host wine tastings and special events.

SideBar: On The Menu

Items can change seasonally:

Creamy gorgonzola walnut ravioli with artichokes, spinach and sundried tomatoes: $17*

Three cheese crab lasagna topped with jumbo shrimp served with asparagus: $25

Washington State salmon served with sundried tomato polenta, marinated portabellos and white truffle oil: $23

*represents dinner entree prices