I use that term hidden gem literally and figuratively. I have driven by Bellagio dozens of times, and never spotted it. Hidden along Washington Ave, just North of downtown, it is deceptively small from the street, with a parking lot behind the restaurant. Entering through their garden, with fresh basil, rosemary, and tomatoes growing, is a great sign.........and, says "we use fresh ingredients"
It is an incredible find in Sarasota. Our waiter, one of two sons, explains that it is family owned. He and his brother, who wait tables, speak English, as does their Aunt, who was working the bar. Mom and Dad, speak no English, and run the kitchen.
Small, but tastefully decorated, with pictures of Italy on the burnt orange walls, and white tablecloths, the atmosphere is of an Italian trattoria.
And, the food lives up to the atmosphere. All is definitely homemade.
I started with the mussels in wine sauce (a special of the day). Fabulous, plump, melt in your mouth mussels in a creamy wine sauce. I also had the main course special, lasagna bolognese.........but, made with eggplant, rather than pasta. Excellent, fabulously cooked. Definitely a homemade sauce, and very well put together and presented.
My wife started with the caprese salad..........using the fresh basic. She enjoyed it very much.....oh, did I mention the homemade bread served with a pesto dipping sauce.
My wife's entre did not fare as well as she expected. She ordered the full order of mussels in the red sauce. Good, but the white sauce was much better.
Too full for dessert. The waiter also suggested complimentary limoncello, which is father makes, but was passed.
Great food, great atmosphere, excellent service.............homemade. Will definitely be back to try out the pastas, and the fish dishes, and/or the veal (
Oh, and it is priced right. Appetizers around $12. Salads, $7, Pasta's, $13-16, Veal (5 preparations, Fish dishes $19-20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.