Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Tag

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

Pizza Topped With Flavor and Arrogance   Leave a comment

Any place that goes by the name Hell’s Kitchen must be pretty confident that its
food is actually divine. At Ruffrano’s Hell’s Kitchen Pizza that doesn’t mean
the place is heavenly. In fact, far from it, but the pizza is, well, damned close.

Attitude is everything and the guys (I haven’t seen any women) stretching the
dough and taking the orders are no-nonsense whadda-ya-want pizza pie poten-
tates. Sometimes the pizzas are ready when expected, and other times they’re
not. You wanna make a deal out of it, go somewhere else. This isn’t something
I’ve seen or heard, it’s just a feeling;  I’ve never left without my pizza though.

The crust is firm without being a brick, and thin without taking the shape of my
hand as I ate. The best thing about it is the sauce that graces the top. Thick and
full of intense tomato flavor, I almost wanted to pour it over a bowl of pasta.
Almost. The sauce with the crust and smoky mozzarella cheese is the food of
quasi- angels. We ordered Grandma’s Pie Bake, which is described as a “reverse
pan bake,” but no one explained what that means. The rectangular-shaped pizza
is simplicity at its best: sauce, cheese and basil. It’s too hearty to be a Margherita.
The only problem was charred corners. The Four Cheese White Pizza with ricotta,
mozzarella, provolone and parmesan is decadently gooey.

I recommend take-out. The surly staff may make you feel like hell, but the pizza
doesn’t.

Three-and-a-half plates
Ruffrano’s Hell’s Kitchen Pizza
9 Ruxton Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO