>> Thursday, January 20, 2011
Although the holidays has come and gone, I’m still finding that I’m hard pressed for time everyday. From prepping for work, going to work, working, commuting from work, you get the gist. Everything just seems to be work related for me lately and time is flying by (I can’t believe it’s nearing the end of January! Ack!). Even getting together with friends has resorted to being planned around meetings and other functions. Luckily we were able to get out to a nice little place just on the beltline of the downtown core, close enough that I don’t have to worry about fighting rush hour traffic, yet far enough so that I’m not reminded of the dreaded w word.
Atmosphere: Low lighting and soft music evokes an inviting and warm effect, which reminds us to relax, slow down and enjoy life (and of course, the food!).
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s
Food and Wine: I had the honor of dining with a few of my really good friends at La Vita e Bella and was able to enjoy a few shared appetizers amongst us. We started with the Polpettino, which are beef meatballs stuffed with baby bocconcini in a light tomato basil ricotta sauce. The bocconcini prevented the meatballs from becoming dry and helped keep them moist and tender. Our second appetizer of Calamari was crispy without being greasy and also came with a tomato sauce. Both were a nice way to ease in to the evening along side our complimentary focaccia loaf.
For our mains, my husband ordered the Frutti di Mare, which consisted of black spaghetti as opposed to regular pasta loaded with a bunch of seafood (scallops, prawns, mussels, clams & calamari). The spaghetti was cooked a perfect al dente and the seafood was succulent and sweet. Our dining companions decided on the Salmone Saltimbocca and the Dijon Bistecca (a filet mignon), they both agreed that the dishes were well done. I had the Osso Bucco, named as such because of the crossed cut veal shank, slowly braised until tender. Although the waiter had a bit of an issue with the order, my dish didn’t take that much longer that the rest of the table’s and it was well seasoned.
I can never go to a restaurant and not take a peek at their dessert menu and when I read the following - Nero Pilsner Torta Spezia a spice cake made using brew borthers black pilsner beer, topped with vanilla bean gelato & caramel – I knew that it would be the dish that ended my meal that night. The cake was moist without being overly sweet and you can’t beat a dessert that includes vanilla bean gelato. There definitely were hints of the pilsner beer throughout the cake, but it was subtle enough that it did not overwhelm the fragrant flavours of the spices.
We were able to try two different types of wine that night (one of the great things of dining with others), one being the Collazzi Bastoni Chianti Classico, which has fruity aromas with a decadent and dry finish. The second was the Colombo Montelpulciano d’Abruzzo. I really enjoy Montelpulciano grapes, as noted from the name; it comes from the Abruzzo region in Italy. It’s generally a lighter red often mixed with Sangiovese, but it still remains a soft tannin wine so it goes well with both meat and seafood dishes.
My Picks: Polpettino, Osso Bucco
Overall: There’s really no comparison to enjoying superior company, good food and great atmosphere. La Vita e Bella does ring true to its name so sit back and take pleasure in all the wonderful Italian flavours.
La Vita e Bella
401 – 12th Avenue SE