Have you been to downtown Independence lately? It's just across the river if you take the bridge from River Rd. S. There's a small strip of businesses on Main St. across from Polk Marine Park that have developed into a thriving commercial sector for the small town. It's not really that far of a drive if you live in Salem and it's a breath of fresh country air as you head past farms along the Willamette River on the narrow highway heading south.
In the corner of one of the old brick buildings is a cozy Italian restaurant called J. Bella's Ristaurante. We were sold on eating here when we walked by the large glass windows and saw plenty of seating in a spacious dining room. It's not terribly fancy but it does feel like you are going to get a high quality meal. Pasta prices on the menu range from $13 to $18 including a salad and bread. What caught my eye was the Grandma's Meatballs served over spaghetti. Grandma always makes the best. My kid's know that too, so they ordered the same from the kids menu.
Unfortunately, this is where the nice dinner out took a turn in the wrong direction. Five minutes after I ordered, the server came back and told me that they only had two meatballs left. Just enough for my kids to each have one or for my dinner. I decided to change my order to the Baked Chicken Manicotti. While I sat and wondered why they wouldn't have enough meatballs for a sparsely filled dining room, I enjoyed the nice basket of bread sticks with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. After eating salads, and a bit of a wait, my manicotti plate came out first from the kitchen. Then a bit more waiting for the rest of my family's entrees to come out of the kitchen. I guess I kind of expected the meatball dinners to be the quicker to prepare. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine not be served everyone's dinner at one time. They don't need to get to the table at exactly the same moment, but the kitchen should have
everyone's meal done before the server puts a plate in front of a customer. The manicotti was stringy and dry and the small portion of veggies, which were alright, didn't make up for the disappointing cheese filled pasta.
J. Bella's has potential to be a comfortable casual dining experience at reasonable prices, it's unfortunate that we had the experience that we did. Don't let this review discourage you from crossing the river into Independence. There are other good restaurants along that street and a nice riverfront park for the family to enjoy.