Spring Dining at Bella Vista

7 Nov

* This post was by T2, a co-author of In The Taratory from 2011-2013. *

As you can probably tell by now, T1 and I are north-sider girls. So the various restaurants on Belconnen’s Emu Bank strip are frequent dinner destinations for us both. T1 has already written about her recent Haha Bar and Zambrero experiences (both places I’m also a big fan of) here and here. I’ve yet to try Sanur’s Balinese restaurant or the Prince Palace Chinese restaurant (both of which have garnered positive reviews from friends), but I do particularly enjoy the odd laksa at 2 Yummy BBQ Noodle House or a chicken stirfry at Thai Chiang Rai.

This time, it was Bella Vista that was on my radar. With a mate in town for the week, we met for a leisurely afternoon bevvie at Haha Bar before wandering down to the Italian restaurant for dinner. I’d been there once before for a work Christmas party lunch back in 2009 – a pleasant enough experience, from memory. This time, though, we decided to go there because of a ‘buy one, get one free’ coupon deal in my Canberra Entertainment Book. As you may have read in my previous coupons post, I do love a freebie!

We were seated almost immediately despite not having a booking. Given the lovely spring weather, we asked if we could sit outside – and the staff were more than happy to oblige. They made up a table from scratch for us, and dragged the specials board out for us to peruse.

Our waiter was super attentive, and our orders were taken swiftly. Our drinks (a coke, water and beer) were all delivered equally as fast. By that stage, it was peak dinner period and the inside section of the restaurant was quite full, so I was impressed by their efficiency.

We started our meal with garlic and herb focaccia. It wasn’t bad. I was a little disappointed that they’d run out of Italian bread, though, which meant no bruschetta. Luckily, the main meals more than made up for the absence of my favourite entrée. I’d been seriously tempted by the sound of their special Gnocchi Bella Vista (poached potato dumplings in a nutty sage butter sauce), but ended up having the Risotto Pescatora (aka seafood marinara).

Now if there’s something that I know well, it’s a good seafood marinara. I’ve probably had about 10-15 different seafood marinara dishes over the past year at various Canberra and Sydney restaurants. Bella Vista’s version did not disappoint. It came served in a small heavy pan on a wooden board, steaming hot. The spread of seafood was generous – prawns, black mussels, scallops, white clams and fish, smothered in a rich tomato-based sauce. Absolutely de-lish. My friend had the lasagna, which also looked tasty. Very cheesy, and absolutely massive! He struggled to get through it all (as did I, thinking back. Definitely can’t complain about the serving size, that’s for sure!).

We were far too full to think about dessert, but stayed for a little while longer as we finished our drinks. By 8.30pm, we could hear the faint strains of music from the Lighthouse pub next door. I was actually surprised that more people hadn’t elected to sit outdoors, too. The restaurant overlooks Lake Ginninderra, a popular walking destination for many north-siders in the evening. The combination of warm weather, location and the music in the distance made for a really relaxing atmosphere. My friend and I agreed that the lake would look really spectacular at night if it were lit up in some way (a far better use of taxpayers money than that unfortunately-shaped owl structure on Belconnen Way!)

We headed towards the exit to make payment around 9ish. While my friend popped to the bathroom, the lady at the counter engaged in a bit of friendly conversation with me. I really appreciate wait staff who take the time to have a chat and make sure that the meal was okay. I’m actually a bit sick of the staff in some cafes who can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to crack a smile (I’m tempted to write about my experience the other day in a very popular Westfield cafe – the teen girl who served me rolled her eyes so much, I swear they were about to roll out of her head!). Anyway, my friend and I were stoked by the bill – just over $40 for two of us. Not bad for a bread, two beverages and two main meals!

So, if you’re in the area and have a hankering for a hearty Italian meal, definitely head to Bella Vista. Don’t be put off by the neon signs out the front (so 90’s! They could really do with an update) – the interior of the restaurant is lovely at night time (perfect for a hot date), and the food, staff and service are top-notch.

Or, in my very basic Italian ‘cibo assolutamente delizioso’…

Attendees: T2 + friend
Cost: about $40 for two people, including one drink each
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile
Want more? http://www.bellavistarestaurant.com.au/

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2 Responses to “Spring Dining at Bella Vista”

  1. Oren Forward (@sirorange) November 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Have to agree Bella Vista in Belco is great, good price, compatent staff (so rare in Canberra) and the food is fantastic.

  2. Kazza the Blank One December 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Also big fans of Bella Vista. It’s gone a bit more upmarket in the past year or two – higher prices and smaller serving sizes (for some dishes). But we keep going back because we love it so much 🙂

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