Meet the Trader: How Netflix drives diners to Bella Roma

Owner Leo Hoda (left) and Bella Roma staff. Pic: Isabel Gonzalez Belobradic

Attention for the Italian restaurant Bella Roma peaked earlier this year after being featured in the popular Netflix series One Day.  

Standing in the bustling heart of Lewisham, the local family-run restaurant has captured the hearts of locals for the past eight years, long before it appeared in the Netflix series. 

Leo Hoda, the owner of Bella Roma, said: “It was always my dream to start my own business and this is what I have been doing for over twenty years.” 

The series One Day, which has gained over 100 million viewing hours, features the Italian business in episode 13. The series, adapted from David Nicholls’ novel published in 2009, revolve around Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, tracing their 20-year relationship from their chance encounter at a graduation ball. Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall portray the main characters.

Debuting on Netflix last month as a limited series, One Day became the most-watched series globally for the week starting February 12, accumulating 9.9 million views. In episode 13, Dexter, Emma and Dexter’s daughter Jasmine all go out for a pizza together; this was filmed at Bella Roma. Since then, the restaurant has seen a lot more reservations. 

Hoda said: “It made a big difference. We had people come from all over England and we also had people make requests from Europe outside the UK. The reservations probably went higher than we expected, and it’s great.

“A couple weeks ago I heard from one of my customers ‘Oh my God you guys are on Netflix’ which was great and it was all over the newspapers and all people would come in and try the food and it was one of the biggest news we have ever had.” 

Linguine allo scoglio dish at Bella Roma. Pic: Leo Hoda 

Initially facing struggles in opening a business in Lewisham, Hoda persevered, and Bella Roma gradually carved out its place in the community. Now, it’s not just a restaurant; it’s a cherished gathering spot where regulars flock once or twice a week to indulge in handmade pizza and pasta. 

Hoda told Eastlondonlines: “We are quite lucky as well because we have the locals as well that come in once or twice a week. It’s a family-run business, everyone feels at home when they come here.” 

A Google review by Isabella Mutti reads: “Bella Roma is a fantastic Italian restaurant in Lewisham! The moment you step inside, you’re transported to the heart of Italy. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, and the staff is incredibly friendly. The menu offers a wide variety of classic Italian dishes, I highly recommend Bella Roma for an authentic Italian dining experience.” 

Spaghetti alla Carbonara dish at Bella Roma.
Pic: Isabel Gonzalez Belobradic 

The menu ranges anywhere from pizza to pasta to seafood dishes with some signature dishes including Cabornara and Linguine. 

Leo Hoda, owner of Bella Roma, talking to customers. Pic: Isabel Gonzalez Belobradic 

Despite the desire to expand, Bella Roma remains rooted in Lewisham for now. “The main thing is to deliver. We can’t fail because we are getting busier and busier,” said Hoda. 

Exterior of Bella Roma. Pic: Isabel Gonzalez Belobradic

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