Bella Napoli (Pasadena/Glen Burnie)
I have mentioned this place before, but the experience we had there last night led me to start a thread on this place alone--not woven into some other discussion.
I've been before and given it solid reviews. Not ecstatic, not gushing, but "B+, red-sauce Italian-type-of-place." But last night's pasta dish raised this to a new level.
We had the usual app, the Antipasto Freddo: homemade mozz, proscuitto, salami, olives, anchovies, roasted red peppers. The mozz is great, and I think they've upgraded the proscuitto to a moister, tastier, higher-quality than I remember. The anchovies ROCK (and I am not an anchovy fan). They are the $20/pound, DiPasquale's type of pickled sour/salty, plump, anchovies. This is a ridiculously huge app for $10.75.
The dish that made me go out of my way to write 'em up was the Spaghetti Alla Bella Donna. Spag with marinara with capers, olives, and anchovies. Lord have mercy, what a sauce! I think it was better than the marinaras I have had in Italy and the Italian side of Switzerland. Fresh, lusious, ripe diced tomatoes with a perfect balance of oil, garlic, salt, and barely any acidity. Very crisp, clean, balanced. Absolutely divine!
Color me surprised. The only other pasta dish I had was a gnocchi with tomato sauce, topped with fresh basil and mozz. This was solid, didn't knock my socks off. The Bella Donna knocked my socks off!
I will have to explore the menu more to find more knockouts like this one. Anyone else want to pony up with great dishes I should try? How is their seafood? They always have a fresh fish on the specials menu, but I always wonder, "How good could it really be?"
This Bella Donna sauce has made me reconsider that attitude.
I love unexpected surprises! Especially when they are such yummy ones. :)
Knocking off of one's socks is the appropriate metaphor for a well-prepared dish of spaghetti alla puttanesca. <wink>
I live right nearby (actually we're mildly acquainted with Pasquale the owner and his father the chef). We order pizza and takeout pretty often and its always great. The garlic knots are always fantastic, the calzones really great.. any sausage pizza is worth it. For entrees? I always enjoy the manicotti and the veal parm.
The last time I was there was probably two or three months ago. Usually the pizza there is suberb, but the last time, the crust seemed very different, less flavorful and much more dense. I was worried that things there were going down hill, but with you post, it leads me to think that maybe it was just an off night or a dough issue. When they're pizza dough is on, like it always had been, the Pizza Bella Napoli (fresh mozzerella, prosciutto, roasted peppers and mushrooms) and the Pizza Positano (Clams, mussels, garlic) are both fantastic.
elgringo, love the commentary! :) Thanks for the morning smile.
Turkeybone and Jason1, we, too, are fans of the pizza. We've only tried the Pizza Bella Napoli and the White, which was deeeelisch. I have been eyeing the Positano, but now will go out of my way to try it. I think it was last week or the week before that we ordered the White, and their dough was as good as ever. I am guessing it was an off-night for them with the crust you got.
I will also have to try the knots.
Pasquale has waited on us a few times, I told him I first heard about him on Chowhound. :) He said some others have mentioned it, too, and the he needed to look it up.
Has anyone had the tortellini? I was eyeing that, but that's kinda heavy for a hot, summer day. I'll try it this winter.
What about the seafood?
Though maybe I should get the puttanesca.... ;>
I should warn you, though, that the Positano can be a little bit much (with the garlic, especially). And it can be a little dry, but I still love it. It might be nice to split a small Positano and have something else as well. It sounds like I'll have to expand my ordering and start trying some of their pastas!
Stopped in tonight w/ the whole family and all had an enjoyable meal - much better than you expect from a strip mall. Garlic knots were delicious hot little bites of dough laced in garlic butter, pasta was fresh and tasty. My husband and I both got specials - I crab ravioli and he salmon and shrimp, Both were quite fresh and delicious. Lemon sorbet and chocolate mousse were also respectable said my family members. The tiramisu is supposed to rock (house made) but I was too full from my tasty salad, the ravioli, and all those garlic knots. I am looking forward to trying a slice of my daughter's pizza tomorrow. Service was also nice and very accomodating of the kids.
We'll definitely be back!