Review: Bella Italia Ristorante

Luke Bunker, Co-Editor

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BELLA ITALIA RISTORANTE

308 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd., Dodge City

When I first heard that an Italian restaurant was headed Dodge’s way, I must admit that I was ecstatic.  I am a huge lover of Italian food and all things Italy, and was looking forward to a nice restaurant with great food and an attractive, authentic atmosphere in which to enjoy it.

When I first walked into Bella Italia Ristorante, located at 308 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd. in Dodge City, I was shocked.  When I opened the door, my eyes were immediately drawn to the walls – a hideous pinkish-beige hue, they were completely void of any artwork or decoration, save for the periodically distributed electrical outlets.  Second, as my party was seated, I observed plastic tarps covering the green and red tablecloths; I felt that this somewhat cheapened the dining experience.  Third, the music in the background was of an Italian nature, but compared with the appearance of the rest of the restaurant, it seemed to be overselling the idea and saying, “Yes, you really are in an Italian restaurant.”

Out of the three times I visited the restaurant in preparation for this review, I never once ate a truly delicious (or, I’ll be honest, close to delicious) meal.  With prices of entrees varying between $8.00 and upwards of $13.00, the portion sizes and quality of the foods were lackluster at best.

On visit #1, I ordered a ravioli dish, of which there were just a few pieces of ravioli, and what little there were tasted like they came out of a Chef Boyardee can.  On visit #2, I ordered Spaghetti Carbonara, a simple spaghetti dish traditionally served with eggs, cheese and some form of pork.  The pasta I received on this visit was dry and slightly overcooked, and the pork/bacon was entirely too salty for my taste.  One upside of this visit was a surprise complimentary order of homemade garlic bread with olive oil for dipping, which was actually pretty good.  On visit #3, I ordered their version of Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, of which the sauce was too runny with an unappealing sweet quality to it, and the chicken did not taste fresh at all.  I also sampled a pepperoni pizza on this visit, which was good, but one that could have been prepared in any person’s home.

Probably my second overall complaint of the restaurant was the bread you are served prior to your meal.  The bread was good, but it was neither warm nor toasted, and served with only a hard, non-spreadable butter (on one visit, there was olive oil for dipping, but it was not present on a subsequent visit) that made for some messy eating.  I would definitely have preferred if the bread were served warm and with olive oil for dipping as well.

The service was one of the few decent parts of eating at Bella Italia Ristorante.  On visit #1, the service was poor, but on subsequent visits, the service improved.  The servers seemed to be friendly and engaging, and were eager to dispense their opinions on the various dishes offered.

With an ideal downtown location on historic Front Street, Bella Italia Ristorante could have been (and should have been) a shining example for restaurant-goers to sit down for an enjoyable meal amidst attractive and authentic surroundings.  Unfortunately, the restaurant met few of my expectations, and was disappointing.  It is my hope that, in the coming months as they gain more revenue and feedback from customers, that they will improve their decor and make it a true dining experience.  But for now, Bella Italia Ristorante lacks in a variety of aspects, and left this reviewer with a (literally) bad taste in his mouth.

BELLA ITALIA RISTORANTE  | 2.5 out of 5 stars

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