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Figlio vs Bellanote - MSP

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I've never been to either, but both have been recommended to me for decent italian. I'm entertaining friends from out of town this weekend (I just moved her myself) and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on the pros and cons of each of these places. Also, if you have additional recommendations those would be also appreciated. I'd like to keep it to either downtown or uptown.

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  1. Figlio is not Italian, though they do have some pasta dishes. I would never recommend it for the food. For good Italian in the Twin Cities (not really our area of strength), I'd suggest Al Vento in south Minneapolis, Broder's Cucina and Southside Pasta Bar (both good, though with very focused/limited menus) in SW Minneapolis, or Ristorante Luci in St. Paul.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jordan

      I've been to both - and I agree with Jordan -there are much better places to eat if you want good Italian (Broders). However, if you're with a group, you don't mind the "see, be seen" ambience, then you might find what you're looking for. I really don't consider Figlio Italian either - but here's the link:

      http://www.figlio.com/

      I go there for a cheap glass of house wine and some $2 eats on a Saturday afternoon (the cheap $2 happy hour on Sat - 12-7, and on Sunday all day (bar only)) but other than that, I try and avoid it because of the massive yuppie or pseudo-yuppy crowd.
      Bellanotte is average at best but if you're in your 30-45, and are looking for a certain attitude and ambience, you might be happy with it.

      The only downside about Broders are how close the tables are together and the longer waits....but sometimes that also means waiting = food people are willing to hang around for. :)

      1. re: Jordan

        As Jordan said, Ristorante Luci in St. Paul, or the sister restaurant catty corner at Luci Ancora - both at Cleveland and Randolph in St. Paul right across the street from St. Kates. Both are fine eateries!

        1. re: Jordan

          Figlio's not Italian? News to me.

          They do serve some American standards there, but the majority of the entrees there are Italian.

          Broder's will deliver first rate pasta, and Campiello is a good all around Italian place. I'd go to either of those for Italian before Figlio. Figlio is fun with a group or for the atmosphere. I really like the place because of nostalgia - lots of memories there for me. I don't go for the cutting edge food, but they do have several dishes that are really good.

        2. If you or your cohorts are foodies, attempt those places @ your own risk
          Bellanotte = Nightclub posing as a restaurant, best suited for Meatheads and Cougars
          Figlio = Less expensive version of same (bar posing as restaurant), but more acceptable for the uptown hhhipster crowd and slightly better (or would that be not as bad) food.

          If you want good Italian FOOD in Uptown or Downtown, I'll vouch for Campiello in the heart of Uptown. If you want a fun kitschy Italian atmosphere in a kinda downtown location try BUCA on 12th (am I committing a Chowhound sin by mentioning a chain?)

          If you want to expand your area and have the very best Italian food available in the Twin Cities and price is no object, Osteria I Nonni is it, hands down no contest.

          3 Replies
          1. re: g rote

            You get a pass on the downtown Buca since it's the "flagship". I understand that it's technically not part of the chain, but is still somewhat family owned - is that right? Not sure about the details on that one.

            1. re: g rote

              It's not a sin to mention a chain as long as it's decent, but I think Buca is downright gross. Food made in portions that large seems like a church potluck or something. I get the shivers just thinking about it!

              1. re: g rote

                I'm new to CH so I didn't realize that there was an orthodoxy about chains. I saw that a recent thread about fogo de chao was vanquished to the chain board.

                Does Oceanaire get a pass? I've seen it mentioned freely, but it is part of a high end and Minnesota founded chain, but still. Although I guess it would be hard to have a seafood discussion in MN and not bring it up.

              2. I agree with the others. If I wanted good Italian, I'd go to neither of these. I second the recs to Al Vento and Campiello.

                1 Reply
                1. re: drew13000

                  I 'third' the rec on Al Vento!

                2. I would generally agree with the majority of the folks who have chimed in and say that the most "italian-y" thing about figlio is the name. I am also inclined to agree with people that both places are known for their bar-like atmospheres, and i am not one generally to enjoy eating in bars (not that i dont love a good drink, even with a meal) even though i do think that bar food has a special place in the culture of minnesota (perhaps this deserves its own thread, though i wont be the one to start it).

                  Despite generally agreeing that figlio is not really very italian, and only perhaps half a restaurant, it is not totally without its merits. as mentioned here, happy hour deals abound. The idea that it is fun "for the atmosphere" is laughable, unless you frequent the basements of second rate frat parties (ones populated by 40-something returning brothers, at that) and even if you really must make your dining selection based on the party atmosphere, i think there are better choices in town. Earlier this summer i enjoyed some really spectacular bar food during the week when there were fewer sketchy wasted suburbanites around - it may be sometimes hit or miss, but that kitchen can definitely put out some good food. As good as their watermelon gazpacho was, and as good as the happy hour deals are, you couldnt get me to go back at a peak time, or at least not more often than once or maybe twice in a year.

                  1. Do not go to Bellanote. I repeat, do not go to Bellanote. Not only is it ridiculously expensive, but there food is mediocre. The least expensive thing on the menu was spaghetti and meatball and it was good but not for $15.
                    I just got back from two months in Italy and I too am having a hard time finding "authentic" italian dishes.

                    I think Campiello is good and Broders is fantastic, especially for the price. Hope this helps.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MNLawGirl

                      I was waiting for someone else to say it so that I could agree ;). Simply do not bring anyone into Bellenote. The food is a) not Italian and b) not good. Overcooked, bad quality steaks. Frozen, re-fried calimari. Applebees quality. Terrible vibe. Giant televisions that can be seen from the dining room. Expense account restaurant for people who don't like food. Figlio isn't really Italian either, but is fun and the food isn't terrible.

                      For a similar party atmosphere with better red-sauce Italian, definitely hit the downtown (original) Buca on Harmon. If I had my choice though, take me to Broders.

                    2. Yarusso Bros on Payne & 7th St in St Paul. Not classy, but FUN and cheap and tasty. Huge portions, take-away desserts, and a nice patio.

                      1. figlio is a hoot. it is not italian, it is not really anything except a place to go with your uncle because he felt cool there 20 years ago. a real timewarp-- hang out at the bar and expect duran duran to walk in in lime green suits and loafers with no socks at any moment. i will say the service tends to be decent in the restaurant (not the bar area) and it is okay with a big family when you don't want to hit a perkins. as far as food, meh. i agree w the others.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Sounds like you're describing Restaurant Miami, not Figlio. Even in the 80s, that description wasn't apt of Figlio. I think if someone walked in there for the first time, they'd wonder what you were describing. There really isn't anything dated about the place...other than it's not one of the hot places that 'hounds talk about. Yesterday's news.

                          Nice dig you made, though.

                          I am wondering what people consider to be Italian. If 60-75% of the menu items are Italian, why isn't it an Italian place that happens to serve other things? Go online and look at the menu.

                          In order to be "Italian" would they have to purge all the non-Italian stuff from the menu? If they lost the burgers and salads, would that do it?

                          1. re: pgokey

                            oh come on, i was making a joke, but figlio is so 80's they make fun of themselves with their latest billboard ads-- what's the one i'm thinking of with the new-wavy dude with big hair, that says "still stoked"?-- cracks me up!

                            the key to figlio's longevity has a lot more to do with location location location than anything great about the food-- and i lived a couple blocks away for 3 years, so i've had some salads and happy hour drinks at that bar, for sure (there is no neighborhood bar in uptown :( ) . i do see the menu there as more retro than italian-- tortellini alfredo with green peas, anybody?

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              Tortellini alfredo with green peas is a very common dish in Italy, even today.

                              I agree that Figlio has survived because of location but also because they widened their menu past the exclusive Italian fare to include something for everyone - burgers, salads, etc. There are some dishes there that are good, and some that aren't. It's too much of a "crowd pleaser" to be consistently excellent or particularly inventive, but it's certainly no Olive Garden.

                              The billboard perhaps refers to the place's age, but certainly not its menu or motif. Maybe there are a bunch of mid-life crisis people in the bar that give you some impression. You'll find me in the dining room, where it's simply contemporary.

                              1. re: pgokey

                                I'm sorry, I have to chime in...nothing "alfredo" is common in Italy unless you are in a restaurant that only caters to American tourists. Good stuff, but mostly an American food.

                        2. Thanks to everyone for all of your input. Because we wanted to go some where large and kind of trendy, we did end up at Bellanotte. Despite the criticisim, it was actually quite good. It is definitely more of an American-Italian place, but that was fine for last night's purposes. It was comfortable, we had excellent service, and the food was good. We stuck to the ravioli's which are made in house and both the lobster and the spinach were excellent. One member of our party opted for a halibut special that was outstanding. We also shared a pizza for an app and that did not disapoint. It is expensive, although what seems to be most overpriced is the wine. $10 martini's seem acceptable - $10 glass of wine at the low end does not.