The Italian restaurant Bella Vita is taking the first-floor space in Circle Centre mall formerly occupied by Bertolini’s. The new restaurant is owned by Indianapolis restaurateur Henri Najem and his wife, Shelley. They’ve operated a Bella Vita in the area since 1998, the past five years at Geist Marina. Najem signed a five-year lease for 6,700 square feet at Circle Centre next to P.F. Chang’s and Champps and expects the restaurant to open in early January, pending approval of a liquor license. The high-traffic space Bella Vita will occupy in Circle Centre has been empty since Bertolini’s, part of Chicago-based Morton’s Restaurant Group, closed in March 2008. Embattled local businessman Tim Durham is not involved in the downtown Bella Vita project, but he has partnered with Najem on previous attempts to expand the restaurant. The full story is here, and an earlier blog post is here.