Thursday 19 April 2012

Not so Bella Roma

We finally made it to the much hyped Bella Roma in Fracc Las Americas on Tuesday after a long time wanting to get there. Actually we made an abortive first attempt a month or so ago, however were turned away due to lack of a reservation... quite a surprise on a back street in Fracc Las Americas, which is hardly Venice after all... With much anticipation we made a reservation for last Tuesday, and duly arrived. The restaurant was quiet when we arrived with only 2 tables seated (although filled completely while we were there). After a short moment of confusion, the waiter located our table (located adjacent to a blaring speaker, which only upon our request, was turned down).
Perhaps inevitably, the overall experience was disappointing. After being seated, we were handed menus, but no list of wine or beverages. Shortly after a waitress appeared to take our drink order, at the same time depositing a small basket of focaccia on the table. Since we had no beverage list, we had to ask what was available. Wine was offerred, by the glass only apparently, although when we pressed further, she admitted that bottles were also available, so we requested a bottle of Chianti. The price was never mentioned, and we did not ask, since after all, how much could you expect to pay for a bottle of basic Chianti in a restaurant in Fracc Las Americas? Our mistake, as we were to find out later.
After a few minutes we noticed that all the other tables had also been provided with a bowl of olives, and olive oil for the bread. Only upon our request did we receive a bowl of olives, and in fact we never received any olive oil or balsamic vinegar during our entire visit. We ordered, one fetuccine dish, and one tortellini in a cream sauce, both reasonably priced at around 120 pesos each. In due course, the pastas were delivered, and were delicious, however no additional parmesan cheese or freshly ground black pepper were offered; both of which are a 'must' in an authentic (or even wannabe authentic) Italian restaurant. Following the delivery of our pasta we were then ignored until we finished, upon which our plates were collected.
Upon deciding we would like dessert, we had to flag down a passing waitress, who took our order for two tiramisus (45 pesos each), and returned with them a short time later. I am not Italian, but I have to say that I can make a better tiramisu myself, by far, than that served at Bella Roma.
Having finished dessert, no coffee, limoncello, or anything else was offered; again, had we wanted it, we would have needed to request it. We called for the check. Upon receiving it we were somewhat shocked to find that the cheap bottle of Chianti was in fact 380 pesos...
Overall, as I said, a somewhat disappointing experience. Although the pasta was indeed excellent, it was not enough to make up for the poor service and lack of any welcome or atmosphere. The staff were disorganized, and had I not known better, I could easily have believed that the restaurant had only just opened, since there seemed to be no coordination or planning. I have traveled widely in Italy, and since Bella Roma is owned by a large Italian family, I was expecting the kind of atmosphere that one would find in a tratoria in Florence or Naples. The reality was sadly lacking. We won't be rushing back.

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