My mom loves Italian food and had been wanting to try this new place that opened by her house at Chandler Heights and Alma School so we all went for her birthday Saturday night.
Not a neighborhood red sauce kind of place but trying to be more a higher end Italian featuring "authentic Italian flavors." Menu consists of typical starters and salads(though no calamari which disappointed Mom a lot). Pastas were familiar and included bolognese, vongole, fra diavolo, pesto, lasagna, etc. Secondi offered steak, salmon, marsala, pork tenderloin, stuffed chicken breast. A few woodfired pizzas are also offered.
In the absence of the calamari, Mom picked the eggplant appetizer instead and we shared two of these around the table. There were eight of us and the six large slices were plenty. The breading would have been flavorful but they were left in the fryer a bit too long and had a burnt flavor adn were dried out. They looked to be breaded in house.
I had the Vongole e Linguine con vino bianco. This is my favorite Italian pasta and I order it just about everywhere. Sadly this was a poor version. A few littleneck clams, some mussels and some crabmeat. I'm a purist and just want clams but could have forgiven the variation. However...it came with the seafood and pasta floating in what I suppose was supposed to be a broth or fume. Unfortunately it didn't taste like much. My mom and my sister had the same dish(linguine alle vongole is a family love) and we all agreed it was much too bland. This dish should taste like the sea and this just tasted of pasta water.
My husband the bolognese and thought it was pretty good. He complained that his pasta was mushy...this was in fact the case all the way around the table...not one pasta served al dente...all much past this point.
Service was spotty. The server was friendly and pleasant. We waited over half an hour for the appetizer and then the entrees arrived while we were still working on the starter. Another server walked by our table carrying two much too large stacks of drinking glasses without using a tray...these went flying to the stained concrete floor showering my mom and sister at the end of the table in broken glass all around their feet and handbags. Drink refills were very spotty and the server indicated "we only refill if you ask"
I'm not sure how long this restaurant has been open. I know it's relatively new but not sure exactly when it opened....maybe it's still opening kinks being worked out.
It wasn't too expensive but wasn't cheap either. $204 for 8 pastas, two appetizers, one glass of wine and iced tea for everyone else.
We were all pretty disappointed. Every time a new independent place opens we are always hopeful to find a new local gem. Sadly this one didn't fit the bill. Maybe management will tweak the menu to add some more unique items, work with the kitchen(seriously, mushy pasta in an Italian restaurant is hard to forgive), and work on the service....if not, I don't think they'll be around long. Admittedly, ti's summer and the much of the Sun Lakers are gone(this is right next to Sun Lakes but also part of the Ocotillo and Fulton Ranch area)...but the restaurant was pretty empty for a Saturday night.
Bella Vino Ristorante
985 W Chandler Heights Rd Ste 4, Chandler, AZ 85248
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