Ed Carrella grew up working at his parents’ pizzerias on Chicago’s South Side. Now, he’s sharing that experience, and authentic Italian food, with Northern Michigan at Vita Bella Italian Kitchen and Market in Frankfort.

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Ed Carrella always keeps his mom’s cookbook next to him in the kitchen, along with his dad’s royal blue ledger of recipes from his restaurant days in Chicago. Tina and Angelo Carrella immigrated to the windy city in the late ’60s, leaving their home in Naples, Italy. They dreamed of owning their own business and opened a Neapolitan pizzeria, adding pasta to the menu after Angelo brought home 25 pounds of ricotta and Tina spent hours and hours developing her ravioli recipe (still found in that little blue ledger).

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

Related Read: Searching for recipies, tips or features on more local restaurants? View our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page

Ravioli is just one of a hearty handful of homemade pasta on Ed’s menu today at Vita Bella Italian Kitchen & Market in Frankfort, along with Mama’s Meatballs and, of course, wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant opened in March 2021, almost exactly one year after the pandemic cost Ed his job at a Chicago restaurant. He and his wife, Megan, decided then that it was time to make their vacation home in Frankfort their permanent home, pushing fast-forward on a longtime dream of their own. Megan had been visiting the Crystal Lake area since birth, sharing her love for it with Ed and their two children over the years.

Ed’s decades of experience opening and managing a number of restaurants in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Houston, along with his family’s recipes, served as the inspiration for Vita Bella. The cavatelli is Ed’s favorite, served with their Bolognese sauce—four different types of meat stewed for three hours with tomatoes, garlic and then a touch of cream to smooth it out. And don’t overlook the grab-and-go market. There’s a little bit of everything—Iron Fish maple syrup, Fustini’s oils, his mom’s homemade bread, Italian amaretti cookies, sandwiches, salads and entrées.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

This winter, Ed’s got a few things cooking up for the community: a Chicago-style stuffed pizza special that’s available on Fridays and Saturdays, cooking classes with Mama Tina and Lounge Nights with live music. Follow Vita Bella on Facebook for upcoming events.

Vita Bella is located at 320 Main St. in Frankfort. To view the menu and learn more, visit the official Vita Bella website.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner