I have to admit, it's very hard for me to want to eat Italian in Tallahassee. To me, Italian food is winter food. I just really can't bring myself to eat hot, rich, saucy food when it's just as hot outside. But don't get me wrong, I'm an Italian girl and I love Italian food, but here in Florida I've found I rarely get the craving for it. So when I do, I must act!
Posted by Tally Foodie Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Bella Bella is our go-to Italian place in town. There's something so quaint and homey about it, it feels as though I'm stepping into a relative's kitchen. The moment you walk inside, the smell of marinara sauce and freshly grated cheese wafts past your nostrils. And then you just succumb to it - that overwhelming desire eat massive quantities of pasta. And at Bella Bella, massive quantities of pasta you will get!
We've learned that it's best to split meals here, as the portion sizes are just like Italian families - HUGE! All of their entrees are served with salad and fresh bread and many come with a side of angel hair pasta. I always feel like I'm at my Grandma's house where she's grabbing my wrists and saying "You're so skinny! Here, you get an extra spoonful!" And I'm looking at a mountain of food and wondering how it's all going to fit in my tummy. I think that's what all the sauce is for - to make everything slide down easier!
A friend recently recommended we try the Bubble Bread, which we had never had before, so we put in a quick order before they could bring us their regular stuff. Be forewarned - unless you're prepared to make a trip to heaven, do not order the Bubble Bread. Because this bread will take you through the clouds, past the choirs of angels and straight to the pearly gates! Imagine if you will - crispy, crunchy Italian bread, topped with mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses and baked until everything is so ooey-gooey and bubbly on top so that it's hard to tell where the cheese ends and the bread begins. Uh, oh. I've lost you haven't I? You've already left your computer and gotten into your car and headed over to Bella Bella. Aw, shoot. Well, I guess I'll just continue and maybe you'll come back and read the rest of my review after you awaken from your Bubble Bread coma.
Next, come the House Salads. I'm not quite sure what makes their dressing so irresistible, but it's equal parts tangy and garlic-y and creamy and you just won't be able to stop mopping your lettuce all up in it. It's one of those dressings that hits you in the back of your jaw, but in a love-hurts kinda way. I believe they bill it as a homemade gorgonzola vinaigrette - but I think there's more to it than that - someone's not revealing their secret ingredient (*tsk, tsk*)!
For our main entree, hubby and I split the Chicken Parmesan. And lucky we did - you get 3 whole chicken breasts, lightly fried and topped with mozzarella cheese and dunked in marinara sauce and baked (again) until bubbly. We made a little game of trying to find the chicken under all that cheese and sauce because it was definitely drenched! But oh soooo good. Our entree came with a side of angel hair pasta with marinara sauce and our server was nice enough to put a generous portion of shaved parmesan cheese on the top. There's just something about their marinara sauce that reminds you of home - they don't try to be too fancy about it, they don't add any crazy or overpowering spices and it's not sweet (spaghetti sauce should never be sweet - blech!) - it's just like your Mom or Grandma would make it. And in my book, that's just right.
I have to apologize a bit for the quality of the pictures on this post. By the time we went out to dinner that night, it was dark out and I ended up having to use the flash in the restaurant. I hate using the flash for 2 reasons: first, because natural lighting looks infinitely better, the flash always blows out the colors and second, because it draws attention to me and I always feel like a goober taking pictures of my food in public. But I do it all for you guys - my loyal readers - so I really hope you're enjoying my posts!
Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B (tables are a little too close together, I don't like other people overhearing my conversations)
Taste - A
Presentation - B
Service - A
Price - $$
123 East 5th Avenue
Tallahassee FL 32303