Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chow Bella

I am extremely excited to report that we welcomed a new member to our little corner of the office last week!  But why do you care?  Because a new hire means something amazing...


Yes, that's right. That glorious hour in the midst of a hectic work week where we all take a moment to come out of desk-bound hibernation, squint our eyes in the sun (or in today's case, rain) and venture through urban forest of high-rises on the hunt for a decent meal to welcome our newest member.

Today's welcome lunch landed us at Bella Sera Urban Trattoria in -- you guessed it -- Market Square (joy of joys)!


 Bella Sera translates to lovely evening.  Seeing as this was a welcome lunch, we had to improvise. Ma non era triste.

I will start by saying that we called ahead to make reservations. Yes, even for lunch.  Though there were seven of us, I'd still suggest doing so or possibly choosing an odd lunch hour if you want to ensure seating. Tables are limited and many are two-tops...

thanks, when we arrived, a line of patient hopefuls spilled out of the door. But since our table was ready and waiting for us, we slipped on by.

I'll first start by telling you I absolutely love the old, rustic European look when it comes to restaurants. Nothing in my mind, is more optimal for a fine dining experience than warm lighting and clean exposed brick.  If you're presently questioning my correlation between brick and meal appreciation I don't blame you -- but you'll just have to trust me on this one.

As a table, we took our server's advice and ordered a helping of the "famous" veal meat balls for $10.

The aroma of the marinara sauce was incredibly intoxicating and I couldn't wait to dig in and nearly drooled when I did. But I was good. I had just one.

I'm not sure if I've told you, but I've recently embarked on a quest toward healthier living. Once a marathon runner, now a couch crusader, I've decided it's time.  So, I joined a gym and began chalking my packed lunch full of fiber, fruits and veggies. So I felt it necessary to do my very best to thoroughly enjoy my beautiful lunch outing while staying true to my impressive four-day streak of wellness.  So with a skeptically reluctant yawn I ordered the Grilled Salmon Salad for $11.

Not so skeptical anymore.

Who knew goat cheese and salmon were such a perfect pair? If you're not a fan of fish but looking to take a step in the healthy direction, this works wonders.  Now let's be honest.  Is goat cheese ridiculously fatty and caloric?  Sorta.  Two tablespoons'll cost ya 80 calories and 9 grams of fat. But the pomegranate molasses makes up for it by being sweet and delicious while (shock of shocks) still being relatively good for you.  Zero fat and only 50 calories per table spoon, HELLO! It's a great way to turn a yawn in to a yum! The salmon was perfectly seared and ya'll know how I feel about beets. So essentially this salad can be summed up in two words: nom, nom.

I thought you might be interested in seeing a few of the delicious things my co-workers ordered, and they were so kind as to oblige me on shoving my camera lens in to their meals and snapping a few shots.  Thanks team!

Insalata Verde, $9

Pasta Greco, $12

Bella Chopped (add chicken), $13

Blackened Chicken Salad, $11

Grilled Chicken Sandwich, $10
The sandwich came with DELICIOUS homemade chips that I kept sneaking.  I am a serious sucker for a homemade potato chip.

But once we were through with our entrees, the real magic began.  Our server sold us on dessert...or maybe I should say she mentioned the desserts came fresh from Prantl's across the street and then we were sold.

We ordered three desserts for the table: the almond torte, the chocolate cream cheese and...let's be honest. I stopped paying attention at chocolate cream cheese.

Restaurant Information
Bella Sera Urban Trattoria
Address: 22 Market Square, downtown
Phone: (412) 281-6363
Reservations: Suggested, even on weekdays. Lunch gets quite busy.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday
           Private events on Saturdays and Sundays

Overall Opinion
The entire meal, including the dessert, was perfectly portioned for lunch.  The pastas weren't too heavy, the salads weren't too sparse and the cakes and tortes were small enough that I could indulge (just a smidgen) and still feel OK about it.

I don't have cliffs notes for this meal because I was the lucky recipient of a corporate lunch so I wasn't privy to the total or tip but my overall opinion (and what I gauged from my teammates) was that the meal was molto bella! A seemingly great place for lunch, happy hour OR dinner with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, pleasant service and delicious food -- Bella Sera is a must-try!

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