At La Bella Vita, the passion for cooking is a family affair

La Bella Vita kitchen and bar in Richland is the culmination of a young immigrant’s journey around the world in search of a better life.

Forty years ago, Pami Thind left her home in India in search of opportunity.

It was the start of a journey that took him halfway around the world and eventually led to him recently opening a new restaurant in Richland with his family. He takes care of the back of the house and his son Jazz builds an exciting, family-friendly experience for diners.

It’s truly a family affair with Jazz’s mother-in-law Ayrene also helping out and her little brother Nathan running around.

Pami’s culinary journey began in Cologne, Germany as a dishwasher at a family-run pizzeria, where he rose through the ranks in the kitchen and eventually landed an apprenticeship in Rome, Italy.

After that, he will travel to the United States and settle in Bakersfield, California.

“He was sent to live in Rome for a year to learn how to cook from scratch and how to make the mother sauces,” Jazz said. “After that, he thanked his boss for the opportunity, gathered my uncles and we came here.”

Jazz Thind La Bella Vita portrait.jpg
Jazz Thind is the General Manager of La Bella Vita Kitchen and Bar which recently opened at 1515 George Washington Way in Richland. He runs the new restaurant with his father and stepmother. They previously had a restaurant in Yakima. Bob Brawdy [email protected]

In 2017, Pami opened Valley Pizza in Yakima, which helped support them through the pandemic and the opening of the long-running Richland Restaurant.

They began work on the opening of La Bella Vita in 2019, with Jazz moving to the Tri-Cities two years ago to become part of the family business. Like many business owners, they’ve taken a hit on their schedule due to the pandemic and supply chain delivery issues.

In a photo-friendly Instagram corner, a sign even reads, “Est. 2021.” The restaurant itself is industrial chic with unique lighting and plenty of seating options ranging from a bar to booths and tables.

The Bella Vita Interior Richland.jpg
The new La Bella Vita has seating for dining, an outdoor patio, and also offers a bar with TVs for watching sports. Bob Brawdy

Jazz said he originally wanted to be a physiotherapist, but after working in the restaurant industry he also fell in love with it and felt drawn to the family business.

He said the Tri-Cities seemed like a natural place to open a new restaurant because it’s a bigger city, with a small-town feel where they can get to know their regulars.

“My dad cooks such great food, and I love making people happy (setting them up with) good food and good drink,” Jazz said. “I’m already seeing some familiar faces from our soft opening last week, and they’re bringing their friends.

La Bella Vita’s menu isn’t just traditional Italian dishes, it’s the culmination of Pami’s decades of global culinary experience.

Jazz said he’s a foodie himself and loves discovering new restaurants and flavors, which he hopes La Bella Vita can offer the Tri-Cities.

The Bella Vita menu Richland.jpg
La Bella Vita’s menu features a wide variety of items that are large portions and designed to be shared by diners. Bob Brawdy [email protected]

They have the Italian staples, but also new twists and American classics.

The menu will also change as they put their feet under them. Jazz said he expected them to expand breakfast service in about a month and teased that his dad might have some special recipes up his sleeve.

They also seek to supplement their staff with a few additional servers.

La Bella Vita is located at 1515 George Washington Way, on the first floor of the future Franklin Micro Apartments, which was once the Best Western Plus Columbia River Hotel and Conference Center.

While the apartments are still a few months away from welcoming their first tenants, the restaurant is operational.

“It’s a family restaurant, we want to be known for our food,” Jazz said. “We are a mix of cultures. You’re not going to find anything like that.

The Bella Vita Thind Richland Family.jpg
The Thind family recently opened La Bella Vita Kitchen and Bar at 1515 George Washinton Way in Richland. Pami Thind, left, is the chef and runs the restaurant with his wife, Ayrene, and adult son, Jazz, right, Ayrene holds their 5-year-old son, Nathan. Bob Brawdy [email protected]

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Cory is an award-winning investigative journalist. He joined the Tri-City Herald in December 2021 as an editor/reporter covering housing and development. His previous work can be found in the Tyler Morning Telegraph and other Texas newspapers. He was a member of the Education Writers Association 2019-2020 and has been featured on The Murder Tapes, Grave Mysteries and Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen.

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