Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
I was recently invited at Bettola, an Italian restaurant located on the Upper West Side with a fantastic background story. This place is under new management since May of this year and I would say a colorful management. It all started in a ski trip where co-owner Giga Leszay met a rockstar turned Chef Vlado Kolenic. Yes, you heard well: rockstar turned Chef. Vlado was the lead singer of Taktici, a popular band in former Czechoslovakia that defected from the iron curtain at the end of the 70s. This is an incredible story that you can find here, on this short video. When Giga saw an opportunity to take over the ownership of Bettola, she did not hesitate and reached out to Vlado, as she needed a new Chef. Et Voila!
I like the place: warm, it definitely has this neighborhood feel that Giga and Vlado are shooting for, ensuring that people have a good time there. What I like is that they are not trying to be the best Italian in New York, but simply provide a nice experience to their patrons. But don't get me wrong, their food, although not 100% Italian, is quite good. And I am even amazed by it considering how tiny their kitchen is!
Here is what we tried:
Crab balls, a take on Italian meatballs with simply crab...balls served with marinara sauce (small tasting portion):
Eggplant Napoleon, roasted eggplant, tomato and mozzarella, baked In their wood-burning oven:
I should in fact mention that they have a wood fire oven that they were able to get through a grandfather clause, as the construction of new wood-burning ovens is restricted. There, they cook also the meatballs as well as pizza. And we tried one: the Bianca, made with mozzarella, parmesan, mushrooms and truffle oil. Definitely a great pizza, thin in the center, with nice charred bubbles on the outside.
Next was the Wise Guys Bolognese, homemade fettuccine with meat sauce: simply delicious and comforting.
Shrimp Prosecco, that are served with a sauce that has coconut milk in it, and with Israeli couscous.
As we were talking about seafood with Vlado, he insisted that I try the scallops that he crusts with rice flour for some extra crunch. Of course, I could not refuse and I did not regret it!
Last was dessert. For sure, we wanted to try the homemade tiramisu that was delicious, being creamy and light.
As well as the bread pudding that is served with a sauce made with whiskey.
We had a great time at Bettola and enjoyed the food. I like the feel of the place and the atmosphere. I am curious about their brunch whose theme is around The Beatles, with Beatles's songs of course, but also dishes inspired from them, such as Here Comes the Sun that refers to a sunny side up egg dish!
Enjoy (I did)!
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