Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bella Via

Tom and Alex and I wanted to eat out tonight, and I was craving Italian food (yes, I am aware of how boring I am), so we looked up a place in Long Island City that looked reasonably priced, called Bella Via. We were, it turned out, outside of their delivery range (it's not very far! but ok, maybe they don't have a serious delivery system. that's fair), so we impetuously decided to actually go out to the restaurant! I know. We are wild and crazy people.

Anyway, it's super cute inside, mildly fancy. Entrees $14-$21 (guess which end our orders were on). The opening bread was cold but good; the butter was so cold as to be unspreadable, but Alex discovered the trick of holding a knife with a pat of butter on it over the small candle until the butter warmed and slid easily over the bread, and the entertainment of this process redeemed the situation. Tom and I both ordered spaghetti carbonara, and Alex ordered fettucine with shrimp and oven-dried tomatoes. The spaghetti was good - not great, but for sure several-meals-of-leftovers worthy, especially once parmesan was added and heavily buttered bread used to sop up the puddle of extra sauce. Alex's turned out to taste super fishy (literally, as in, that brine-y, distinctly fishy taste that all seafood has to some degree), and it was also discovered that oven-dried tomatoes are distinctly sub par compared to their sun-dried counterparts. Fortunately, we had a cook at our table! Tom asked for a whole dish of parmesan, and helped Alex figure out to add lots of butter and parmesan and salt and pepper to his food, which turned it into noodles in deliciously, mildly fishy cream sauce!

We ordered dessert, since we seemed to be feeling profligate. Tom and I (we have very similar taste in food, it turns out) both ordered the chocolate souffle, with high hopes but low expectations; Alex ordered the chocolate mousse cake. The souffle was hopelessly overcooked, but tasted reasonably good; the chocolate mousse cake was also good, for restaurant chocolate mousse cake (can you tell I am spoiled and heavily opinionated when it comes to dessert? Really, though, if I can make it better, what am I paying a restaurant for?). The vanilla gelato that came with the souffle was delicious, though! I let Alex finish most of my dessert and his (we had been half-and-half-ing it); he is not picky when it comes to dessert, or most food. If dessert isn't super delicious, I don't bother to waste the unhealthy calories on it; Alex does not quite grasp this behavior.

The service was not awesome, either. The buser was great, actually; prompt and polite. But the waiter was appallingly negligent. There were perhaps four occupied tables in the entire restaurant; he wasn't too busy for us. He clearly just didn't care. He spent most of the evening chatting at the bar, very very occasionally glancing over at us and then turning back to his conversation. All three of us are routinely excellent tippers - as in, over twenty percent almost always - and we left 10%.

So we wouldn't go back there. But it was a lovely evening nonetheless! It felt like a treat, since it is more than any of us usually spends, and of course the company was a delight! Next time maybe we'll go to the Thai-Japanese place across the street.


  1. Man, that Alex character sounds like a laugh riot. Is he really the coolest person ever?

  2. I'm with you on the desserts. However, the other night I had a dessert that was excellent. It was the chocolate lava cake at Roy's. (Although I've never tried to make it myself - it MIGHT be better home-made.)

  3. I've had three or four people rave to me about Roy's this week! I wish I had gone when I lived there.
    I will have to try to make chocolate lava cake super soon. Tom said he might make chocolate souffle soon, and he knows how to make it right! I love living with a chef.

  4. I have a recipe for chocolate lava and we have had it here. It tastes a little like the metal pan I cook it in, I think.

  5. I love the chocolate lava cake you make! I had forgotten about it! Don't you make it in that high-walled round pan? I don't think I have an equivalent.