review: mia bella

I think I may have mentioned maybe once or twenty seven times just how picky I am when it comes to Italian food. I’m willing to bet many of you aren’t nearly as selective as me when it comes to all things Italian, so you should read any reviews of such eateries with that in mind.

About six months ago, the former Corbo’s space thankfully stood vacant no more, thanks to  the opening of Mia Bella. We went (all three of us) last month on behalf of Metromix. While I liked many things about this place (our service was great and I did enjoy my entree), something about it just seemed off. I can’t put my finger on exactly what that was (perhaps it was the Turkish music playing in the background?), but I can tell you that if given the choice, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to head back anytime soon. Again – it wasn’t a bad experience, but like previously stated, I’m just overly picky when it comes to dining out for Italian.

Here’s part of the review or you can read the full recap here.

Food: This is Little Italy after all, so the main focus is Italian—Northern Italian to be exact. But look a little closer and you’ll also see other Mediterranean influences including Turkey, Greece and Albania throughout the menu, thanks to the owner’s roots.

The overall focus on the menu and the chef’s approach to food is simple and eagerly shared with every diner: create simple food that’s sustainable in practice with an emphasis on supporting the surrounding community.

On a recent visit, we started off with Buffalo mozzarella for the table with thick tomato slices, thinly-sliced prosciutto and green olives ($6). For dinner, we tried the chef’s favorite pizza—nine inches of pesto, thin-sliced chorizo, onions, pepper and smoked mozzarella atop thick crust ($9) and the veal braciole ($21) with hardboiled egg, breadcrumbs, ricotta and some other super secret chef ingredients that no one was over eager to share.

This was an interesting dining experience filled with ups and downs starting with the disappointing appetizer. The prosciutto was tough and cheese rubbery. Then we dug into the pizza. With the exception of the crust, this also fell short of expectations (and certainly not the ‘best pizza in the neighborhood’ as described by our server). Not to mention the almost nonexistent chorizo and peppers. But then came the braciole. The expectation was for more of the same, but that was not the case here. The tender veal was tightly wrapped around perfectly-packed and flavorful ingredients—and lots of cheese. The braciole was surrounded by a delightfully thick marinara sauce, which we nearly soaked up every last bite with the bread. It was an incredibly satisfying dish that left us wondering how it came out of the same kitchen as the first two dishes.

Décor: Weather permitting; grab a seat outside on the sidewalk alongside the building. Any seat along Little Italy, particularly this corner, is the best seat around, complete with people watching and the sights and smells of this beloved neighborhood. If it’s a seat inside you’re after, you’ll enjoy the open and airy space of this somewhat small and intimate restaurant. And of course, you can do that same people watching by a handful of tables next to the large windows.

Insider tip: Parking options in Little Italy aren’t overflowing.Therefore, free valet Monday through Thursday is a nice touch.

Bottom line: While this wouldn’t be our first choice when dining out in Little Italy, there are definitely some bright spots that make it worth exploring.

2 Comments

  1. jackwatson05
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Just found your website and was browsing your website reviews. Having celiac disease Mia Bella is the ONLY place in Little Italy I can eat at. Even if it isn’t the best, the fact that they offer gluten free options that won’t make me sick makes it number 1 for me. I can’t believe you included NOTHING about this in your article!!

  2. jackwatson05
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Just found your website and was browsing your reviews. Having celiac disease Mia Bella is the ONLY place in Little Italy I can eat at. Even if it isn’t the best, the fact that they offer gluten free options that won’t make me sick makes it number 1 for me. I can’t believe you included NOTHING about this in your article!!

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