Whether you're craving a homemade pizza with wonderful, yeasty bread, authentic slow-cooked Italian sauce over pasta, fresh seafood or stuffed subs, you can get your fix at Bella Napoli Italian Restaurant in Pasadena.
My dining companion and I arrived at Bella Napoli in Pasadena on a cold Sunday evening. The restaurant has a cozy, retro feel with a choice of booths or tables. It's a neighborhood favorite tucked in the corner of a shopping center near Food Lion. The local band, Spellbound, was setting up in a corner and played oldies music.
Our friendly waitress, Taylor, arrived quickly and gave us plenty of time to peruse the extensive menu. My dining companion was an old friend I hadn't seen for some time, so we had a lot to catch up on: cats, dogs, crafts and other fun trivialities.
We kicked off our meal with several appetizers: the cream of crab soup (a restaurant favorite), mozzarella sticks, and bruschetta with tomatoes and cheese.
Taylor brought hot bread with herb-infused olive oil – a spicy, warm touch on a chilly night. The restaurant's local award-winning cream of crab soup, another comfort food, never disappoints. I enjoyed the soup leisurely, savoring the rich, creamy texture and spicy additions of Old Bay, pepper, sherry and another seasoning I couldn't identify; Taylor, asking the cook, said it's a chef's secret!
Extra crunchy mozzarella sticks were a treat. Filled with freshly melted cheese and topped with oregano, they paired perfectly with savory homemade pasta sauce.
The generous portion of three large slices of pizza-style bruschetta was a bit of a surprise. I was expecting the thinner, crispier garlicky bread I usually have, but there were no complaints. The bread was toasted and topped liberally with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, cheese and basil — a satisfying and tasty combination.
Having a good time deciding on her entree, my companion chose the fettuccine Mediterranean, and I, having perused a variety of casual reviews online, picked a margherita pizza.
As is often the case, I preferred my companion's meal. The incredible aroma of the seafood was intoxicating and added another sensory element to the dish. The fettuccine was cooked to perfection, covered with a buttery white sauce, delicately flavored just enough to enhance the seafood — shrimp, scallops and crab — prepared just right, tender and flavorful.
The margherita pizza was classic, with fresh homemade crust. I like a slightly thinner crust, but that's a preference. It's topped with an Italian pasta sauce with the homey taste of one that has simmered for a long time to deepen the flavors and with thick mozzarella cheese with large basil leaves.
For our desserts, I chose the chocolate mousse, and my companion picked the lemon sorbet. They mouse was decadent, and the sorbet was refreshing and sweet.
Dark chocolate whipped to an airy and slightly sweet delight, the mousse was just what it should be. The sorbet was just beautiful! A lemon hollowed out and filled with sweet tart and tangy, icy sorbet. Light and refreshing, it was a great end to a heavy meal.
We had plenty to fill our doggie bags! With three appetizers, two entrees and two desserts, our whole meal came to about $70.
Bella Napoli offers friendly service and great food. The restaurant has a full menu of authentic Italian food, beer, wine and liquor.
Due to COVID-19, the restaurant has restrictions on the number of indoor diners. It does have outside accommodations with heaters and a firepit. And, of course, curbside pickup is available. Call 410-255-9400 to place an order or make a reservation. The restaurant also offers catering. For more information, you can visit www.bellanapoli.us.