I literally walk down Minetta Lane daily during the school year.  There had been a restaurant at the end of Minetta for years and years.  One day they closed shop and as always a new restaurant took over the space in no time at all.  Bellavitae welcome to the neighborhood.

Fred and the kids had gone when it first opened up.  They summed it up by saying it was OK not great. 

On a Tuesday night in August, you can generally walk into any restaurant of your choice and get a seat.  Not this summer.  Restaurants are packed.  The streets are packed.  We saw a movie at the Angelica and got out around 9pm.  We were wondering where could we possibly find a place at the bar.  The people were teeming out on to the street of the restaurants on Houston.  Bar Pitti and Da Silvano on 6th Avenue, had people in line and in packs just drinking and waiting for a table.  It was ridiculous.  So, we walked by Bellavitae and there were 2 seats calling out our name at the bar.

There are 2 bars in the restaurant.  One in the front, which does not serve any food except for a few finger food items.  The bartender, who wasn’t very friendly, told us that they won’t even serve silverware there.  Fingers only.  Hmm.  Not a great way to develop a clientele.

We ordered a cheese platter and some fried eggplant.  A table opened up so we moved so we could at least eat something else.  Funny enough the cheese platter had a jelly on it so I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to get the jelly on the cheese with my fingers if I was sitting at the bar.  Also, the eggplant was so fried to a crispy and greasy with a sauce on the side, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to do that fingers only too.   

We sat down and ordered 2 more things to split.  We had a fettuccine with roasted mushrooms.  The sauce was a massive amount of olive oil and some cheese.  The mushrooms were tasty but hard to work in a fettuccine.  You picked up the pasta and the mushrooms were so large that they couldn’t work their way into the fork.  Zitti would have been more to the point, or at least chopped mushrooms. 

We also split the classic Italian cold veal with tuna sauce and capers.  The veal wasn’t that good.  The sauce was to heavy handed. 

The kids were right.  OK, not great.  It is too bad.  The vibe in there is really nice.  Low ceilings, down a small street, intimate setting, etc.  The makings of a good restaurant.  It is in the neighborhood and I do like the place unfortunately the food isn’t worth the journey.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Suan Loftan

    Gotham Gal:

    Guess you’ve never been to Italy. I’ve been to Bellavitae and I actually had the fettuccine dish you described. I can understand why you didn’t like the mushrooms becuase they were, er, zucchini. 🙂

    Anyway, you should do some more Italian fact-checking, because “Zitti” in Italian means “shut up”. I think you meant Ziti.

    Guess you and the kids need to make a trip to Italy and get it together on Italian food.


  2. Paolo Rossi

    Lady, put your ego on the side, you have no clue. For starters Fred should not be taking kids to a wine bar, second BellaVitae is a great example of excellent wines, regional food and cultural atmosphere. I have serious doubts that you understand the italian culture (or any other for that matter) as it is well represented in this fine wine bar; plates are prepared exactly as you would find them in Italy and with the same quality of ingredients. As a previous reader remarked what you thought to be mushrooms were thin sliced caramelized small (large you said?) zucchine (I really can’t start wondering how you could take those for mushrooms) and try using Ziti (you didn’t get that one right, either) with that and see how it works for you. There is a reason why that dish is prepared with fettuccine or maybe you have more experience with pasta dishes than the chef who created the menu? Ziti are slippery, use them and you will pick nothing else but oil. They work great with a tomato-base sauce but not with an oil-base. As far as the bar is concerned, finger food is just what it is, I grew up in Italy and I frequent Bella Vitae because I feel right at home, I laugh at people using silverware for meatballs or other finger dishes; or worse, those americans throwing the meatballs on top of their pasta (sad).
    The sauce on the vitello tonnato (the veal tuna as you call it) is just as my mother used to make it, so no complain on that side from me either. I always see everybody very happy at Bella Vitae, customers and employees, and hear many compliments on food and wine. If I owned a restaurant or a wine bar you would be the customer I prefer to do without. Wait a second… where you the one who ordered the diet coke?