401 12 Ave SE
It is Thursday (Thursday at the initial time of writing, Day 7 of the Big Taste) and this is only post number three. When I fired off the bazillion emails early last week, I had envisioned a few more outings than this. But between plans falling through and lunch and learns at the office, y'all will have to settle for 3. Don't worry, I have two more posts coming for sure and debating whether I want to treat the family out to eating something that isn't Chinese food and will not be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
Anyway, lunch outing with Russ at La Vita e Bella. I was surprised he was up for such silly antics with me as he is skipping yoga AND paying $25 for lunch. Could he be finally turning a new leaf or succumbed to such bullish peer pressure? Located in the Dafoe Building just outside the Stampede grounds, La Vita e Bella features a $25 lunch, $35 dinner and $85 gourmet menu for this year's Big Taste. Similar to Escoba, items featured for the Big Taste are dishes from the regular menu (For lunch anyway). A choice of two items was available for each course.
I selected the Caesar salad for my appetizer. Romaine lettuce tossed in a Caesar dressing was topped with grated grana padano cheese, pancetta, crunchy foccacia croutons and red wine eggs. It was really good overall. I can't say that I was a huge fan of the red wine eggs though. Hard boiled in a red wine, the eggs had a reddish tone on the outside and cut into quarters. It tastes a little pickley. It's weird. It wasn't bad or anything. I just didn't enjoy it as much as a regular egg. It sounded neat.
A choice of spagettini or risotto was available for the main. I had the spagettini while Russ tried the risotto. The pasta noodles were likely laced with either a puree of red bell peppers or a tomato paste when it was made and as a result were orangey red in colour. It was really good. Served over a tomato sauce containing various herbs and olive oil, the dish is then topped with a VERY generous amount of garlic and shallots (I can’t even count that high), andouilli sausage and little itty bitty grape tomatoes. The pasta and sausage were very flavourful and a little spicy. The tomatoes were firm and sweet. It was pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
For dessert, I had the double chocolate mousse. A white chocolate and dark chocolate cream cheese mousse sandwiched a thin crispy wafer cracker and finished off with a mint leaf. The mousse was really thick and heavy. The texture was smooth and melted in my mouth. Despite begin extremely full, I still devoured it like a champ and then took a nap after.
Here's a brief summary of what I thought of it,
Atmosphere: 8 out of 10. Nice relaxing atmosphere.
Food: 7 out of 10. Good food, fresh ingredients. No vampires will be bothering me for the next little while. Maybe don't get this if you're trying to hook up with Edward. I'd imagine it'd be a deal breaker for him.
Presentation: 7.5 out of 10. Good presentation.
Price: 7 out of 10. Good deal overall. It's still a whopping $25. So it's not exactly cheap. Just think of how much food you get and don't worry about it.
Service: 7.5 out of 10. Attentive service, plates are cleared promptly.
Overall: 7 out of 10. Decent overall. Not as good as my first time.