By Ross Mantz
“My name is Franco. We’re Basque, from Northern Spain. My father is Spanish. My mother is Chilean, but her family is Italian. She does all the baking. My Dad does the cooking in the restaurant. It’s all family recipes; the crust, the creams, the sauces… Hold on… Hi, do you need anything?”
Regardless of where they are from, they know food. Franco and his family run the Bella Maria stand at the Marco Island Farmer’s Market on held at Veteran’s Memorial Park on Wednesdays. Few people there miss the sights and smells of Bella Maria’s small but popular stand. He made time for a quick interview between the hustle and bustle of eager customers, saying, “Yeah, so pretty much she does all of it; the Breads the Quiches the Nepolians and the Tarts. We have been coming here for six years.”
Bella Maria offers baked indulgences, perfectly executed and ready to be thrown in the oven to brown or to be eaten on the spot for a decadent snack. However you enjoy them, you can be sure you’ll find nothing else quite like these pastries on Marco. Franco goes on to say they have seen imitators come and go, but for Bella Maria, the products and customers stay consistent.
We asked Franco about the challenges they faced in reaching local consumers. His take is that a lot of the people in the area originate from the Midwest. As a result there are a lot of flavors that they might not have been exposed to before. In order to catch the eye of this demographic, the people from Bella Maria frequent local markets and keep their product,”straight-forward, unique, and tresh.”
The Bella Maria Cafe is located in Naples on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street. It offer Tapas, Sangria, and a full menu. You can also find another stand at the Third Street South Market in Naples. Otherwise, just make it to the Marco Island Farmers Marketat the Veterans Community Park, and grab yourself a quiche. (Maybe a tart too!)