Ingredients make all the difference in this warm and cozy Italian restaurant in the West Village. Tucked into narrow Minetta Lane, Bellavitae has built up a loyal clientele who sit at the bar when tables are unavailable. An advantage of a bar seat is being warmed by the wood burning brick oven that turns out boned chicken roasted with herbs and fennel and a pork chop roasted with camelized onions.
Bellavitae’s menus changes frequently based on available local ingredients as well as special finds from Italy. Bellavitae has a way with vegetables. A favorite is the Sicilian style cauliflower sautéed with pine nuts and currants. The tiny cauliflower florets soak up the nutty flavor of the pine nuts and the sweetness from the currants. Hands down, this dish is a great way to start a meal.
Bellavitae’s menu is perfect for sharing, allowing small or large groups to share and sample as many dishes as possible. On a recent visit we shared a plate of spaghetti cacio e pepe, spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and generous gratings of black pepper. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the cheese gave the dish a luscious creaminess.
For our main course, we opted for the tagliata, the Tuscan-style sliced steak with salsa verde, a picante sauce made from parsley and anchovies. As a side dish, we choose Roman puntarelle with lemon, garlic, and anchovy. The meat, cooked medium rare, was properly seared on the outside and tender and juicy inside. The vegetable, a variety of chicory, was tart with a bite. Each course went well with a full bodied bottle of Barbaresco.
Bellavitae has the feel of a favorite restaurant in a small Italian town. The wait staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and truly care that each dish is enjoyed. Photographs on the wall by Sara Mathews lend color and atmosphere. The restaurant will soon turn five years-old, and while it may not be as popular as it was when it first opened (we were able to get a table when calling in the afternoon, something not possible in earlier days), those who care about fine ingredients, careful presentation, and an inviting environment will always return. We know we will.
Type of food: Italian
24 Minetta Lane, near Sixth Avenue
Romantic-4 Child Friendly–1
Girls’ Night Out-4 Solo Dining—4
Business Dining—3 Visitors Welcome—4
Dress Code—Business Budget—Expensive
Photo by Shanna Ravindra