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Feb 9, 2008 05:23 AM

La Bella Managua

Nicaraguan restaurant on north side of Bloor near Ossington. Not much from the outside but inside is cheerful and "homey", and the recorded Nicaraguan music and regional menu might help you forget about the slush and snow outside. I've only eaten here twice in the past 6 months but both times it was equally enjoyable (with a group of 4 and 7).

I have almost no prior experience with Nigaraguan food but we all enjoyed our meal including (adventuresome) children and teenagers. You can google their menu.
Vegetarian options included. Also pasta and a stir fry dish offered.

Make sure you order one of their juices. Tamarind, and orange-cantaloupe are very refreshing. Tea is regular or herbal. A simple but nice touch being able to select your tea.
The restaurant is licensed.

The entrees are large and filling, and the prices very reasonable. With shared appetizers (quesadilla, calamari) I was unable to finish my meal. And I would have loved to try dessert!

Carne Asada $10.95 proved to be a favourite choice for us. A large portion of boneless beef served with gallo pinto (beans with rice...I really enjoyed this), avocado, and plantain (the sweet yellow mashed or the green version sliced thin and deep fried). Spice it up with the homemade pico gallo sauce to taste.

There is a pollo option $11.95 (the most expensive choice on the menu) which was also enjoyed.

The deep fried pork with cabbage salad was good but I found the pork a bit drier than I would have liked (mind you it was 9 pm on a weeknight) but the cabbage salad (think coleslaw with tang) was a great accompaniment and the yucca was delicious! Not low calorie but hearty and satisfying.

The tamales were another delicous and inexpensive entree, which might make a nice shared appetizer.

There's no kid's menu but the waitress offered to bring my 10 yr old a smaller portion of the Carne Asada but as he is a Carne Vore he sticks to the regular portion and doggy bags the rest.

But here's the best part for me. Because of a life threatening allergy to tomatoes I approach most restaurants (well actually all) very carefully. The owner (I assume) came out from the back to answer my many questions and was extremely polite and helpful, as was the waitress. He suggested some delicious tomato free choices. The other thing I "suffer" from is being able to choose. Some of us couldn't decide between yellow or green plaintain -- he brought us both. Yucca -- No problem. He brought us both forms of yucca. Spanish Cheese (which tastes like feta) -- grated or fried? We get both. When you're eating out with kids, groups. and allergies this kind of friendly and helpful service keeps you coming back. I only wished we didn't live in York Region and we could go more often.

Our last visit was in December and he mentioned that he was hoping to enlarge the menu to include some fish/seafood choices. And apparently, although its not on the menu on weekends (open at 11 am or noon? but not before) the waitress told me if you ask they'll serve you up a Nicaraguan style breakfast. Not sure what it is but it might be a nice break from bacon and eggs. If you do try it please post about your experience. I may have to make a trip downtown soon for lunch.

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  1. Thanks for the review, dory. We'll definitely give it a try!

    1. I read from somewhere that this place closed down... is this true!?

      1. I've eaten there a few times, and exhausted the veg options fast (there are, literally, two choices). But I stop in for plantains once in a while - totally worth it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: piccola

          Awesome! What are some of their other dishes would you recommend?

          1. re: satoorisme

            OMG you can get a platter for $35.00 with pork beef chicken fried pork skin freshly done rice and beans plaintian coleslaw and bean dip. It is an awesome way to sample everything. good for 3 or 4 people. The beef Tacos are also really tasty and the home made hot sauce is so tasty. The food here is so good!!! SSSHHH!! I don't want this place to get too popular. ;-)

        2. i haven't been able to find a website for this restaurant... does know about one?

          ... but a large (12) group of friends want to go there for a sunday lunch/brunch (esp. "nicaraguan style breakfast"!!!) ... we all went to nicaragua on a missions trip and want to re-unite over some nostalgic dishes ... would this place suit a large group? ... food sounds great too!!

          8 Replies
          1. re: msprnt

            It's pretty small, but I've never seen it packed, so I think you'll be fine. But call ahead first.

            1. re: msprnt

              I'd certainly call. There's space, but Jesus, the chef and owner, is the only one in the kitchen! For dinners he can do group platters with advance notice, so that might be something you could consider as well.

              1. re: chocabot

                That's good to know.
                Since you seem to have an in with the owner, maybe you can answer this: why the random stir-fry dish on the menu? I'd much rather have another Nicaraguan veggie dish to choose from...

                1. re: piccola

                  i don't. I've been there twice but my friend is a regular (and he only ever gets the veggie plate). i agree the stirfry and pasta dish are odd additions tho i haven't tried them myself.
                  The owner is very accomodating. He will do 1/2 orders and grill the plantains if you request.

                  1. re: chocabot

                    so i booked it for my group on sunday afternoon ... i asked about the nicaraguan style breakfast and he said that's possible too ... and added that he'd do pretty much anything we'd ask .....within reason ....i remember it always came with a random salty cheese and he mentioned that too....haha

                    anyhow, thanks for your input!... i'll report back next week!.. hopefully it doesn't take too long considering the chef/owner is the only one in the kitchen....

                    1. re: msprnt

                      do report back. i've never had nicaraguan breakfast before!

                      1. re: chocabot

                        Me neither, and I'd love to try.
                        Good to know about the half orders and willingness to accommodate. I wouldn't ask anything complicated -- maybe just to leave the meat off some of the other combos.

                        1. re: piccola

                          Does anyone know if they do papusas and if they are good? I travelled throughout Central America with my SO a year ago, but we ran short of time and wound up missing Nicaragua. I was eager to sample the papusas there. I've never actually had one, despite the fact that I know of at least two places that make them in T.O. I live well outside the city, though, so I like to pick my few Toronto meals a month carefully. Is this place worth a visit or should I set my sights on someplace else the next time I'm in the city?

            2. so our group went on sunday and we ordered multiple dishes that consisted of a simple crispy coleslaw, plaintains (fried or roasted), rice (brown or white), and a meat (chicken, beef, pork) prepared in various ways ... i'm not sure how "authentic" the meets were prepared, but they were good ...the plaintains were sweeter than i remember ever having

              we also ordered casava (?), which resembles a cross between chinese "jung" and tamales, but much larger than both and made of mashed beans, chicken/pork, and vegetables... wrapped in a leaf (banana?) .. served with a tortilla... this was steamed i believe....

              the nicaraguan breakfast consisted of brown rice with beans, plaintains, scrambled eggs, and fried cheese!!!.... we gobbled that cheese up quick! .. other than the cheese and plaintains, nothing really unique about it...

              bill came to 135 + tip for 12 (with a few juices/pops)... and we were STUFFED.... lots of spanish speaking ppl there after 3pm .... when we left..... so it seems to be a local mainstain .... one in our group is fluent in spanish, so she ordered for us all ....

              the food came out much quicker than i'd expect for one person in the kitchen, so that was great! ... overall, i'd say it's decent ... but i'd only go back if i was in the area (although, there are so many more options in the area as well)