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Bella Bellissima   Leave a comment

Most Italian restaurants go in for overkill in the dining room: red-checkered table cloths, Chianti bottles coated in streaming tears of wax, accordion music playing in the background. At Bella Panini, however, the emphasis on all things Italian takes place in the kitchen – where it should.

The friends who introduced us to Bella warned us that on a Friday night we’d be in for a lengthy wait to get a table. Somehow, we timed our arrival just right and were seated immediately. Although our companions are regulars,  we all received a warm welcome.

The restaurant features an impressive beer and wine menu, but it’s the food that commands your attention. An array of pastas and Paninis are available, as are soups and salads. The thin crust pizza was tempting, but I was more attracted to the Stuffed Pasta Roll and the nightly fish special: Sea Bass Topped with Etouffee over a bed of Linguini.

The pasta roll is stuffed with sausage, spinach and mushrooms covered with a sun dried tomato pesto sauce. It’s lasagna gone round. The fish was equally creative. Who would think of Etoufee in a place called Bella Panini? The classic Louisiana stew made with shrimp and crawfish was just piquant enough to make sure I was awake to enjoy it. The mild, flakey sea bass was the perfect neutralizer.

The one nod to the décor is in the subtle murals evocative of rural Italy. That’s easy enough to dine with. Mangiare!

Bella Panini
Four-and-a-Half Plates
4 Highway 105
Palmer Lake, Colo

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