At lunch with a friend the other day, she happened to mention that the Dolce group (Dolce, Bella, Ketchup, etc.) has 50% off nights at their different restaurants. Amazing! I called and had secured reservations for the following Tuesday. But, dear readers be aware, you must mention it to your server! They do not promote this special at all (on the menu, on the Bella website) - it's only mentioned on the Dolce website. So make sure you ask for your half off, or they will charge you full price!!
I stepped out of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Blvd. and into this dimly lit little haven. It's a small but efficiently designed space, with a bar taking up one long wall and booths under slender windows taking up the other. My friends J, H, and I lounged in a roomy booth in the back. High ceilings, black glass chandeliers, and black and white photos of celebrities give the place a trendy, almost masculine vibe. The Dolce group has clearly perfected the art of cool.
My first bite of the focaccia bread made me think that perhaps it was a little past it's prime. The flavor was still fine, but it was a little dried out, like day old bread. Luckily, it is served with a tangy, vinegary, tomato dip. This lovely sauce helped to moisten the bread and had a fantastic flavor.
We decided to start by splitting the $3.50 Gnocchi in a Basil Pesto Sauce. The gnocchi was silky smooth, as soft and pliant as you could wish for. The sauce was creamy and packed a garlicky basil-y punch. A scrumptious combination - I could have ordered two and happily called it a meal.
Since it was 50% off Tuesday, I decided to go all out and get the Rack of Lamb for a mere $13! Although the meat was a little overcooked, it was still mouth-wateringly delicious, thanks in large part to a crunchy pistachio crust and a heady blackberry demi-glaze. The sweet and tart sauce was so generously portioned I decided to try it on everything, including the medley of fresh steamed vegetables - an experiment that payed off richly. The plate also came with a heaping mound of parmesan mashed potatoes. The sharpness of the cheese complimented the creaminess of the potatoes wonderfully. And thanks to the ample portion size, I was able to enjoy the whole meal again for lunch the next day. Altogether, a steal for $13!!
We ended the night with the $4 Molten Chocolate Cake. Typically, it is served with vanilla ice cream, but since they were out we opted for the strawberry sorbet. The cake was indeed dense and chocolaty, though not as meltingly molten as advertised. I think it could have used another minute or two in the oven as the very center was even a little cool. The sorbet, on the other hand was light and rich at the same time with a potent strawberry flavor.
All in all, my friends and I enjoyed a wonderful night on the town with good food in a trendy atmosphere for not a lot of cash. Go check it out!
Bella offers 50% off all food all night on Tuesday Nights (Drinks are still full price.)
Bella Cucina Italiana
1708 N. Las Palmas Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028