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Aug 29, 2007 07:15 AM

Figlio vs Bellanote - MSP

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:

      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. 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.