Last weekend, we ate at La Bella in Bedford for our anniversary. I had been trying to decide between La Bella or Ferrari’s. I ended up deciding that we wanted to try the small local place. From what I have read, they have been in business for 20 years or so, and I read some reviews online that seemed promising.
When you drive up to this place, you wonder what you are in for, since it sits between a Big Lots and a Little Caesars in a strip center. However, once you walk inside, the atmosphere is totally different. It’s dark and cozy, and the whole place is basically a square room and it’s fairly small. There is live piano music which is a great touch and we enjoyed that very much.
When we got inside, it took 3-4 minutes for anyone to notice we were there as there seemed to be no host(ess). Finally someone came over and asked if we had a reservation; when we told him we did and told our name, he led us to a small table. We had no sooner sat down than someone else came up and also asked if we had a reservation, then told us that we were to sit at a different table. Weird, but OK. So we moved. Also slightly weird – several people eating there were wearing either rock concert T-shirts or hockey jerseys. Now, I’m not one to obsess about dress in a restaurant, but this was clearly an elegant place and that did lower the tone of it considerably as far as I was concerned. I had made special efforts to get dolled up for a nice evening out. I mean, jackets and ties I can live without but at least put on a golf shirt?
Anyway, after some more delay we were brought menus and the wine list. We started with a bottle of Chianti Ruffino and each had a salad (greens with creamy Italian dressing – the other dressing choice was a viniagrette). I was disappointed to see no insalata caprese on the menu, since I often get that when I go to nice Italian places, but not a big deal. The bread was clearly not homemade and the butter was the kind in the little plastic containers, like one might see at a coffee shop.
I ordered the chicken carciofo (chicken with artichokes and mushrooms in a white wine garlic sauce) and DH ordered the shrimp and crab La Bella (linguine in a white wine cream sauce with shrimp and crab). Both were delicious. I was really happy with both our entrees and that was doubtless the best part of the meal. Yes, I know red wine doesn’t really go with chicken and seafood, but we always drink reds. It’s just our thing.
For dessert we had cheesecake. We were tempted by the flaming desserts (they have bananas foster and cherries jubilee) but decided that for $25 we could do without. The cheesecake was perfectly fine; I’ve never had a bad cheesecake, but neither was it anything to write home about.
We were not rushed and it was nice to enjoy a leisurely dinner without anyone trying to hurry us along to turn over the table. We rarely take a long time over dinner and this was a nice way to spend an anniversary, just chatting and enjoying the music.
So, my experience was mixed. The atmosphere was nice with the dark cozy room and the piano music, but the dress of some of the other diners (of course, not the restaurant’s fault) and the spotty service in the beginning took away from the experience somewhat. The food, while perfectly fine, was not as fresh and homemade as I would expect from a higher-end restaurant. I was fairly underwhelmed on the whole.
We’ll try Ferrari’s sometime to compare and then I will write about that.