So it had been probably five years since we'd last been in Bella Italia. It's one of those places on our list that used to be a favorite years ago; then we fell in love with another Italian spot, then we got tired of that and REALLY LOVED another place (you know --- "... it's lost its pizzazz", or maybe "... they've changed the Chef," --- right?), etc., etc., etc. And last night we again felt like Italian, but had waited just long enough that we couldn't get into our favorite place(s) until after 8:00 --- so we said to ourselves, "... Hey, remember Bella Italia?" Why it came up again, I don't know --- but we're really, really glad it did.
It's a little bit of a zoo right inside the door, although it does calm down after you're seated in the dining room. You walk through the front door directly into their retail bakery and deli, which immediately gets you in the right mood for food, but can be a little crowded with people waiting to be seated in the restaurant, and with others picking up bakery or deli goods. Once you arrive at the Hostess station you're met and greeted by the lovely German Hostess (from a little town about 50 KM from my ancestral home of Dortmund), who, if you're in the mood, will chat with you about pretty much anything from Italian food to Angela Merkel. Once seated, we met our equally charming server Mellany, who wasn't quite as international as our Hostess, but was equally ready to fill us in on the evening's specials (a whole lot of seafood dishes), the huge four-page regular menu, and, to a lesser extent, their pretty good wine list. Mellany has only been at the restaurant since last October, so she wasn't versed on the restaurant's expansion, or the several nice changes we noticed that had occurred since our last visit. And by this time we were getting pretty hungry anyway, so we dispensed with the socializing and got down to the real business of the night --- dinner.
Along with a carafe of their house Abruzzo red, we first split a small (brick oven) white pizza, topped with fresh (not fried) eggplant, ricotta, garlic and basil --- delicious, and the crust was perfect. My wife then had their Veal Marsala, which was unbelievably tender and perfectly cooked, and served with a very lightly seasoned Marsala and fresh basil, and a side of penne with marinara --- equally delish. I tried the Gnocchi, served with a light creamed tomato sauce and (too much) cubed fresh mozzarella, and thought it was pretty good, but not great (the gnocchi itself was a little heavy, and the cream in the sauce took a little away from the freshness and acidity of the tomatoes in a basic red sauce that I prefer). Serving sizes on both our dishes were huge, but we managed to save room for a shared piece of the Amaretto Tiramisu, which we found wonderfully rich, gooey and flavorful, but a little lacking due to the substitution of sweetened whipped cream for the usual mascarpone. But it was all good, and we left (after stopping at the bakery on the way out, and loading up on more sweets to take home) absolutely stuffed and having spent $104.85, before tip.
So the whole evening didn't go as initially planned, but ended up a lot of fun, and a little cheaper than when we visit our current favorite Italian spot (maybe we drink too much...). We met a couple of really pleasant and interesting restaurant folks, had some pretty good food (the veal might have been Great), ran into a couple of old business compatriots from my days in the boat business, and ended up with a whole lot of take-home stuff for today's lunch. I don't think Bella Italia has replaced our current Italian favorite, but it sure satisfied last night's Italian hunger pangs, and it put itself back on our list again, after all those years away. Suppose they missed us?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.