Molalla's newest downtown pizza joint a throwback to owners' childhood pizza restaurants

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Bella Vita Pizzaria is located at 111 East Main Street in downtown Molalla. When Erin Ezard and Sean Flora opened up Bella Vita Pizzaria in downtown Molalla this August, they had their childhood pizza restaurants in mind.

"We're trying to recreate our childhood pizza restaurants with this, so we decided to bring in the arcade games and make it more sports-oriented, somewhere that people want to bring their kids for their birthdays," Ezard said.

Ezard and Flora live between Estacada and Colton, and while Flora still works full-time in Troutdale, Ezard has called the Molalla area home for a number of years. She used to manage the Lumberjack Tap Room, and has now moved on to a restaurant of her own.

She attended Living Light Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, California, where she explored a variety of foods and learned to cultivate her tastes and skills. She and Flora began baking pizzas as a hobby, and decided to turn that into a business once they found out their current building was open for a lease.

"We do a lot of cooking at home as our hobby, we go through all the charts of different foods," Ezard said. "Sean has been into baking pizzas, so it was a hobby at home first, and then when I found this building and a lot of the equipment here, and after doing a walk through here with Sean, he said we should do it."

Bella Vita is a little bit traditional, according to Ezard.

"Our dough is made fresh daily, and it's pretty simple," she said. "Sean likes to call it a hybrid New York-style crust, so we just try to do really simple, fresh ingredients."

Their red pizza sauce is made from tomatoes grown near San Marzado, Italy, that Ezard and Flora choose to import.

"Our products and freshness are really important to us," she said.

And while Ezard said she recognizes that a number of pizza restaurant have called the space home over the years, she wants to remedy some of the factors that she said may not have made previous restaurants as family-friendly as she's aiming for with Bella Vita.

"'Bella vita' means 'beautiful life' in Italian," she said. "There used to be some lottery stuff in here, and we decided instead to bring in arcade games … we're going for a family-friendly atmosphere and we plan to be very hands-on with our business."

Bella Vita Pizzaria is located at 111 East Main Street in Molalla and is open from noon to 9 p.m. seven days per week. For more information, visit them on Facebook.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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