At West Chester’s dolce Zola, Family Ties Shine

The intimate Italian BYO offers seasonal menus and an inviting atmosphere.



Photographs by Steve Legato.

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Much like the flavors on the plates, the kitchen at West Chester’s dolce Zola runs in perfect harmony. Pietro and Antonella Belfiore work alongside their 23-year-old son, Giorgio, for a cozy family dynamic befitting this intimate BYO.

Dolce Zola’s seasonal menu reflects the flavors of Naples, Bologna and (especially) the province of Novara. The latter is known for its Gorgonzola, the restaurant’s half namesake. At dinner, patrons can except a half dozen or so pastas that are as good as any you’ll find in the region, along with daily meatball, soup and crostini offerings.

A former biochemist, Pietro uses his scientific knowledge to profile the flavors of the curated cheeses he pairs on his boards. Other tempting beginnings include the chicken meatballs, dusted with Pecorino Romano and positioned in a pool of pomodoro sauce. The refreshing salads use hydroponically grown vegetables sourced from Bucks County farms.

Meatballs cheese board

Dolce Zola's meatballs. 

A cheese board with goat gouda, Irish cheddar,
Provolone, Pecorino Calabrese and Vino Rosso.

On the heavier side for starters, there’s zesty crumbled sausage in a creamy Gorgonzola-enriched polenta fondue, plus fried-crab-and-ricotta nuggets with Pecorino and Cajun-crusted bread crumbs.

Among the pasta highlights: silken nests of angel hair and tonnarelli, a tender linguine, and a hearty potato gnocchi. Pair these and other options with a choice of ragu, bolognese, bacon-flecked carbonara, snipped sweet basil, or the rousing jalapeño-puttanesca sauce.

Linguine and shrimp sautéed in garlic with artisan blush cream sauce.

Linguine and shrimp sautéed in garlic with artisan blush cream sauce.

Antonella swears by her sautéed Shrimp Aurora (in a garlic blush sauce) and creamy Zola y Noci, its plump gnocchi blanketed in a pungent, creamy Gorgonzola-and-walnut sauce. If you’re lucky, you may even see her labor-intensive risotto on the menu.

Dessert indulgences include fried pastries, pine-nut-sprinkled chocolate mousse spiked with amaretto, and fluffy tiramisu sprinkled with fair-trade cocoa.

Tiramisu topped with fair-trade cocoa.

Tiramisu topped with fair-trade cocoa.

Dolce Zola’s inviting atmosphere comes courtesy of a circa-1865 townhouse that matches the cuisine impeccably. A series of cozy dining spaces impart multiple personalities—from the casual, rustic front bar room to a soothingly refined dining area outfitted with love seats and copper-topped tables.

A strawberry salad with goat cheese, red onions, pine nuts and basil vinaigrette.

A strawberry salad with goat cheese, red onions, pine nuts and basil vinaigrette.

The front area also holds a 12-seat chef’s table with a nice view of the bustling kitchen. Downstairs, a grotto-like tavern space offers privacy for up to 20. There’s also a charming back patio for alfresco dining in the warm months.

Andiario may be the undisputed pasta superstar of West Chester—and rightfully so. But dolce Zola is most certainly in the mix, thanks to the familial spirit and culinary enthusiasm that fuels its own semolina-enriched greatness.

134 E. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0760.

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