For those of us who frequent the local Italian scene at Hilltop and along Laskin Road, La Dolce Vita is owned and operated by the daughter and son-in-law of the family that has run the outstanding La Bella Italia for many years. Both spots are comfortable, unpretentious places, with kitchens that strive for authentic, fresh, primarily Italian offerings, not haute cuisine. La Dolce Vita has only been in operation for less than two months, and is currently presenting itself as a bakery and wine bar cafe. The fare seems understandably to still be in a state of flux, however --- during our visit around lunchtime on a Saturday, in addition to the most yummy lobster tail I've had since our last trip to NYC, and two freshly baked cupcakes that were moist and not too sweet, we enjoyed a wonderful Mediterranean sandwich with red peppers, arugula, smooth and creamy goat cheese, fresh basil and olive oil, and served on freshly baked multigrain bread with the best crust I've had in a long time. A small side of pasta primavera, served with a lightly seasoned olive oil, completed the much too large a feast; we took half of our sandwich home, for a snack later on.
While there is wine displayed throughout the store, and presumably it's served later in the day or evening, the cafe's vibe, at least during the lunch hour, is really more of a comfortable European cafe/pâtisserie, not a wine bar in the sense that Americans have come to know the term. In better weather, you might mistake your sitting at the tables on the outside veranda as a pleasant stop on the Via Vittorio Veneto. And you might think your rich cannoli or creamy lobster tail had just come from the case at Ferrara's in Little Italy. It's that kind of place --- authentic light foods and pastries, freshly prepared with subtle flavors by very talented and pleasant folks with a long history in the restaurant business. A very welcome addition to our part of Va Beach --- we're glad you're here, and we'll be back!
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