Establishment gets the most votes and reviews, but others get support, too.
Bella Pizza was declared the winner of the Hillsborough Patch Readers' Choice contest for favorite Italian restaurant. The top vote and review getter was
joined by some other great places that received top-notch reviews, as well. Winners are chosen based on both the number of votes they received in our poll and the number ratings they receive during the week
on their Patch Places page.
In the event of a tie, we take into account the number positive comments on our poll story, as well as the reviews posted on the businesses' Patch Places pages.
“We basically have done everything from scratch,” Farzaie continued. “We’ve been through seven years and so far, we’re going strong.”
With its seventh anniversary under current ownership rapidly approaching, Bella Pizza on South Branch Road is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to continue growing in the community.
“I always like to think outside the box,” said owner Akhtar Farzaie. “I don’t always like to market ourselves and the place like everybody else is doing.”
How does Bella Pizza do it? Well, by using social media, for one thing. Bella Pizza promoted its appearance in Hillsborough Patch’s Reader’s Choice poll for best Italian restaurant over Facebook and, as a result, came
away with the win as the best place to grab an Italian dish in the borough.
“I have innovative guys that work for me that created a Facebook event page for it, and they sent it out to everyone who is a fan of our restaurant on our fan page,” Farzaie said. “That’s how we
thought outside of the box.”
It’s that willingness to be in the public eye and on social media that spreads the word about Bella Pizza. This word-of-mouth functions as the pizzeria’s main form of advertising; after all, the
restaurant is set back away from the main drag of Route 206.
“That’s what separates me from a lot of the competitors,” Farzaie said. “I came along with the whole social media, so we take to Facebook and do different kinds of events and marketing to really get
our word out there, and to get people in the door.”
That is not to say that the pizzeria has not been featured in more traditional forms of promotion. Farzaie’s willing assistance in a coat drive organized by one of Hillsborough’s young residents in
2009 helped garner plenty of attention from local and regional media outlets, including the Courier News, UPN9, News 12 New Jersey and NJN. Farzaie’s T-shirt designs to promote his business have also
attracted media attention, having been worthy of a spot in the Hillsborough Beacon this past February.
The award from Patch's readers is another honor for Bella Pizza to have received in a town with multiple Italian restaurant choices, and one that Farzaie does not take lightly. After all, Farzaie
looks up to the way many of his competitors have done business over the years.
“Being that we’ve only been here for such a short period of time and a lot of the other places that I was going up against are great places that have been grandfathered in, I look at them as being my
mentors, rather than my competition,” Farzaie said. “But, I’m confident in what I have and I’m confident in the way I market my place.”
More than anything, though, it’s the delicious product Farzaie and his staff creates that they believe keeps customers coming back for more. Farzaie says the restaurant prides itself on its use of
all fresh, built-from-scratch ingredients in its menu items, right down to the sauce and dough used on its pizzas.
“The way guys prep things (here) and the way we do it is the way I would want to eat it; the way I would serve it to my mother or my sisters,” Farzaie said. “I never put something out that I wouldn’t