Pasta paradise

La Vita é Bella has some of the best Italian in town

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Sometimes, it's the little things….

On a cold and windy Sunday night, we decided to try out La Vita é Bella, an Italian restaurant located in the midst of the revitalization — and mess of a construction zone — down near the Calgary Stampede grounds on 12th Ave. S.E.

Over the years, there have been several Italian restaurants housed inside the same building in Victoria Park, with this current one opening last October. Thanks to the ongoing construction, it was near impossible to find parking, which is the only negative my guest and I could muster in our critique of our evening.

Once inside, we were greeted by our waiter, who was working alone on the brisk winter evening. We admired La Vita é Bella's interior right away. Beautiful in its simplicity, adorned in whites and dark browns, it offers a classic look without feeling pretentious and stuffy, which segues nicely into the comment above about the little things.

During our meal, an elderly gentleman appeared in the foyer of the restaurant. When our waiter greeted him, he advised that he wasn't really there to eat and was hoping to warm himself up for a few minutes. Our waiter pulled out a chair at a vacant table, welcomed the man in and offered him a glass of water. This really impressed us. It was a genuine act of human kindness that you just don't see as often as you should nowadays.

But I digress — let's get back to the food. We started off with appetizers. I tried the salsiccia alla friulana ($9.95), Italian sausages sautéed in white wine, onions, peppers and balsamic vinigrette. My date had the bocconcini fritti ($12.95), fried bocconcini cheese with roasted pepper and tomato coulee. Both were excellent. The sausage dish had a great presentation, with bite-sized pieces of sausage, onions and peppers served in a radicchio leaf. The bocconcini was a nice variation of classic mozzarella sticks, with a light, crispy coating.

While choosing main courses, our mouths were watering over the many pasta, meat and seafood options. I had the salmone al burro di limone ($21.95), fresh Atlantic salmon, lemon, capers and butter sauce. My date had the linguini pescatore ($21.95), linguini with white wine tomato sauce, shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels. Once again, we were not disappointed. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and the lemon in the dish kept it fresh and flavourful. The linguini came with a generous amount of seafood, and the sauce was complementary without overshadowing the stars of the dish.

The portions were generous without being huge, which left just enough room to be tempted by La Vita é Bella's delicious dessert menu. We went with the signature tiramisu ($6.95) and cream puffs with chocolate fondue ($6.95). The tiramisu was served in a giant cocktail glass and was rich, creamy and absolutely delicious. As for the cream puffs, the pastry cream filling was all that kept these little gems from floating off the plate. The outer pastry, gently dipped in a chocolate fondue garnish, was as light as air.

If you are looking for a special meal to indulge your better half on Valentine’s Day next month, I recommend making a reservation at La Vita é Bella. This hidden treasure amongst the Stampede construction is bound to be a popular favourite.

La Vita é Bella is located at 401 12 Ave. S.E.; phone, 264-6046.

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