By Alyssa De Rosa
If you’re from the East-end, there’s no need to travel far for authentic, Italian cooking. In The Saint-Léonard area, La Bella Italiana (La Belle Italienne), offers its customers delicious wood oven pizza, gelato and other comforting dishes. It’s a slice of heaven on a busy boulevard.
It’s surrounded by many other restaurants and shops, with a large, open terrace perfect for soaking in the sun while having good conversation. The prices are reasonable and the décor is simple with a large table seating allowing customers to spend a great time in an intimate environment. Perfect for date nights, group parties or just to grab a quick bite for lunch. Unlike some Italian restaurants, La Bella Italiana is casual yet chic with an unpretentious menu and a variety of different flavors to satisfy anyone’s palette.
When we arrived it was around 1:00 p.m., so the busy lunch crowd had already left, however, there were still a decent amount of people inside the restaurant. Seeing as it was a warm, sunny day, we decided to sit on the terrace – something we take advantage of as Montrealers the second it gets hot out! Glancing at the menu, I noticed their long list of “antipasti” also known as appetizers. From arugula salads to fried calamari and sausage and rapini, the possibilities were endless. Feeling a little indulgent, we ordered the fried calamari. As for mains, there were no healthy decisions made here. The tortellini a la Gigi was a sure bet – stuffed pasta in rosé sauce with prosciutto and mushrooms. Finally, a pizza of course. Their wood-fired pizza is the best in the area – thin, crispy and packed with tasty ingredients, we decided to go big and order one topped with two different meats which included pancetta (Italian bacon), and sausage along with mozzarella, mushrooms and tomato sauce.
The calamari was a great start – crispy and not too oily, which is often the case with this dish. It hit the spot and teased our stomachs, making us ready to devour what was coming next. The tortellini looked magnificent on the plate. They were big, stuffed with meat and enrobed in the lightest yet creamiest Gigi sauce I had ever tasted. This may be one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten in the city. As for the pizza, that didn’t last too long on the hot plate.
The service was friendly and efficient. Unfortunately, after inhaling so many carbs, there wasn’t enough room for dessert. I can tell you though, that they have over 20 gelato flavors (Italian ice cream). This is just an excuse for me to return for more! Until next time La Bella Italiana – I’ll make sure it’s a dessert date this time!
5884 Rue Jean-Talon E