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More pita please! Bella Pita brings home-style Mediterranean cuisine to Gayley Avenue

By Camille Ray

March 2, 2023 12:34 p.m.

Expanding beyond his career as a UCLA computer science professor, Medy Sanadidi’s long-suppressed “foodie” side launched him into the exciting culinary arts world 20 years into his career. Between his Egyptian background and the growing local demand for flavorful Mediterranean cuisine, Sanadidi finally gave into the enticing opportunity to explore a new rewarding path in restaurant ownership back in 2018. 

After three years of perfecting menu items, Sanadidi opened Bella Pita in 2007 alongside his son Ezedin Sanadidi where they co-invented the idea for a fresh, affordable and customizable Mediterranean food option for Westwood customers. With home-quality ingredients at the forefront of menu development, the father-son duo reflected on the role food played in their home sphere before launching their official product list. 

“Me and my family are foodies. My father, who was a lawyer in Alexandria, Egypt, as well as his sister, my aunt, were noted home cooks. Myself, my son and daughter have always enjoyed dabbling in food and cooking,” Sanadidi said. “[Owning a restaurant] was probably always in the back of my mind.”

Utilizing recipes rooted in modernized tradition, the two not only conceived a twist on pita sandwiches with their patented Wowshi™ but also honed in on a variety of salad, rice bowl and falafel dishes emblematic of various Mediterranean-inspired delicacies. 

“Many of our recipes are based on my family’s home recipes. In particular, the falafel recipe was developed to match closely our family’s homemade falafel using only pure fresh ingredients,” Sanadidi said. 

Along with the commitment to home-style cooking, Bella Pita prides itself on the use of fresh and local ingredients cooked readily with each order. Upon exiting the oven, hot and fluffy, customers should expect a choice of condiments and toppings to fill their pita, depending on flavor preference. 

“We make our own dough in-house and bake it AFTER the customer puts in their order. As fresh as it gets!” Sanadidi said. “We offer the customer the opportunity to finish their sandwich/plate/salad from our greens and condiments bar. Our condiments are made in-house, not bought already. Our Falafel is made from basic fresh ingredients in the shop. We do not use any already made mixes.”

Apart from the unrivaled quality of Bella Pita ingredients, it also maintains an intimate storefront, allowing customers to opt for the “informal fast food setup”, with swift and easy ordering systems that encourage a step up from conventional fast food restaurants. 

For those hoping to indulge in the Wowshi™ or pita bread tacos beyond the Bella Pita storefront, the restaurant offers a catering service available to both large and small events reachable through their website, https://bellapita.com/catering/

From five years of catering weekly meals for UCLA VA Hospital customers to providing 620 dinners for volunteers at the “Exploring Your Universe” campus event, Bella Pita is no stranger to the catering industry and welcomes any size order.

Gushing about her experience collaborating with Sanadidi, volunteer food coordinator and UCLA geology Ph.D. student Abijah Simon attributed the success of Bella Pita catering to the ingredient freshness, customization options and Sanadidi’s flexibility throughout the process.  

“Medy is a great person to work with,” Simon said. “If your event has any specific requirements he’s willing to work with and around those to create the best experience possible. Also, his employees are so dedicated and talented while also being efficient and detail-oriented, which is so important at large events. They clearly care about making sure each meal is prepared correctly for mass amounts of people, making it an easy restaurant to request catering from again.”

Apart from success found catering, Sanadidi also hopes to garner more student awareness around the Gayley Avenue hidden gem, offering a variety of recommendations safe for first-timers. 

“My recommendations include the Falafel, Chicken, Koftah (nicely flavored ground beef) and the Fried Cauliflower side order. Also very popular are our French Fries. Our unique sandwiches, which we call Wowshis are baked after we get the order, and they are a good place to start. They are patented by the way!”

Despite a widely successful career pursuing computer science, Sanadidi’s unexpected decision to pivot from teaching to opening a restaurant allows him to harness an unexplored creative side all while keeping his family close by. With this in mind, if you are looking to broaden your food palate, look no further than 960 Gayley Avenue. Bella Pita is open Sunday through Tuesday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday 11 – 2 a.m. 

 

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