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. :)