Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave SW - 4/13/10
This is a large restaurant/bar that sits alongside the Van Andel Arena. We’ve lunched here several times, in the dining room, on the outdoor patio, and in the bar. Park at the meters on Grandville, and walk to the entrance on Weston. Enter and you are in the middle of the restaurant. The dining area is on your left, which is a combination of tables, and half, curvy booths. The bar is on your right and contains tables and full booths curving around a long, J-shaped bar. We chose a booth in the bar simply because there were fewer people there and we could have a window view. The entire place has a very open, airy feel about it. Very few walls, and windows on three sides give it a spacious feel, but other than the bar booths, it doesn’t provide an intimate or warm atmosphere.
Out of the seven offered appetizers, we’ve previously had three of them (all good) so selected the antipasta. It was exquisite not only in its taste combinations but also in its presentation. The marinated vegetables combined deliciously with the meats and cheeses. Here the sum of the parts was truly better than the individuals. We could have used more crostinis to help finish the food but to be fair, we didn’t ask for them either. We still had full dishes to come.
Our main dishes were specials of the day and will not be found on the menu. The first was a meatball sandwich with fries, and coming off Rockwell’s a few weeks previously, made for an easy taste-test comparison. (Sorry, Rockwell’s - this one has your’s beat.) The meatballs were flavorful, and were served with grilled mushrooms, onions, and fresh basil leaves on French bread. Fries had partial skins and were nicely seasoned. Much more creative than Rockwell’s, this sandwich was, however, even messier to eat. The other special ordered was rigatoni with scallops, sausage, broccolini, grilled tomatoes, and chick peas, in a light lemon creme sauce. Again, a very creative and enjoyable dish.
We had the same server as last time and she was great. Moving between the bar and the dining area, she was very efficient as well as personable. One other note on this fine restaurant, expect a higher tab (we parted with $54.00 including a generous tip). But the food is innovative and of high quality. We learned from the menu that both this establishment and The Green Well are owned by the same organization, and for fans of both of these places, you will see the pattern: fresh ingredients, local produce, creative dishes, and lovely presentations - Chef Ramsay would approve.
P.S. For you martini lovers, the Bistro claims to have the largest martini bar in Michigan.