This restaurant has changed ownership, therefore my post my no longer apply.
Restaurant: Vita Bella Ristorante
Cuisine: Italian/West Coast
Last visited: February 4, 09
Area: Burnaby, BC
Address: 4544 Hastings Street
Price range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Specializes in Italian cuisine with West Coast flare
- Italian husband and wife operation – Chef Leonardo Moschetti
- Local BC seafood
- Extensive wine list – Italian/BC wines
- Friendly, family owned service
- Attracts locals/neighbourhood/ages 45+
- Affordable/casual fine dining
- Old Italian tradition music
- $9.98 Take-out pasta specials
- $25 3 course menu (Sun-Thurs)
- Vegetarian/Gluten free options
- Charges $1 for hot water
- Minimum $15/person
- May be surcharge for split orders
- Dinner only – from 5pm
- Closed Tuesday
- Dine in/Take out
Recommendation: Linguine Fumante, Zampina (more so because you can’t get it anywhere else)
Vita Bella Italian Ristorante has been around for 4 years and they specialize in Italian cuisine with West Coast flare. However taking a look at their menu I thought the items were on the whole Italian with minor West Coast influences in a couple of their sauces such as orange cranberry compote and cranberry vinaigrette.
Chef Leonardo Moschetti (husband/owner/chef) is born and trained in Bari Italy (Southern Italy) and continued his training in Vancouver (hence the West Coast flare). For me the food was more Northern Italian with Southern influences. Everything was homemade but also quite hearty and rich which is not common of Southern Italian cooking. The food was really good however it left me quite thirsty because of the richness and saltiness.
It was actually really nice because near closing time he actually came out of the kitchen to meet and greet every table for that evening. It was such a nice touch and it made the experience so much warmer. Vita Bella Ristorante serve great food at reasonable portions and prices compared to downtown. It’s family owned affordable fine dining.
On this occasion I was joined by fashion blogger Nicole. We were supposed to come here a month ago, but realized it was closed on Tuesday so ended up at El Inka Deli instead. We ordered a whole crap load of food and ended up finishing everything. We shocked the staff and even ourselves…we were even contemplating another dessert but my tights were starting to dig…
On the table
Complimentary Freshly Baked Foccacia – 4/6
- With balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
- They serve it complimentary, but it’s also an appetizer for $3
- The Foccacia was served warm and it was lightly toasted and quite fluffy with lots of flavour from fresh basil, black pepper, oregano and a little bit of melted butter. The bread is good.
- The olive oil they served it with was not good – 1/6. It looked rich and flavourful, but it wasn’t at all – they need a better quality/brand.
Veal & Beef Sausage “Zampina” – 4/6
- House made, grilled atop tomato caper Bruschetta $20
- The zampina sausage is supposed to be one of their specialties. It’s a homemade traditional Southern Italian sausage. This is the only Italian restaurant I’ve ever seen it serve at, so I would recommend trying it because it is authentic.
- The zampina is made with minced veal, beef and some chopped sun dried tomatoes and some dried herbs. I felt like there were some jarred pimento peppers or pecorino in there too. It’s very slightly spicy and tastes mainly like minced beef.
- It actually reminded us of those Chinese sausages – it was a bit dry in texture and the meats were really lean so it wasn’t a juicy type of sausage. I actually liked eating the sausage by itself rather than with the Bruschetta.
- The Bruschetta was loaded with toppings such as tomatoes, capers, red onion, basil and green onion. It ended up making the bread soggy and a crostini mght have been better.
- There was a strong smoked salmon taste and I think they put little pieces in it and it wasn’t necessary. There were too many flavours going on and the smoked salmon taste was a bit overpowering and it took over the sausage. It was a bit salty too because there were so many big capers in it.
- The focaccia was also burnt and I could taste the bitterness.
- I could have used more balsamic reduction, they used it for décor, but the sweetness and tang made the dish better.
Gnudi – 3/6
- House made ricotta cheese gnudi tossed with roasted peppers, butter and fresh sage $20
- I asked to order it as an appetizer and it was $12 which is a bit steep for the 4 we got. I think $10 would have been more reasonable, but it was a special request so I didn’t really mind.
- As an appetizer, 3/6; as a main 2/6 because it would be too rich and I’d get sick of it before I’d finish it.
- Gnudi is basically a big version of gnocchi. They’re very fresh, handmade and were almost like ricotta stuffed ravioli.
- It’s really soft, almost like pizza dough or very soft bread stick. It’s very creamy and there’s a lot of ricotta stuffing so it’s very rich, filling and hearty.
- They served it with a sage butter sauce but all I could taste was melted butter. They needed more sage, I couldn’t see or taste any.
- They serve it with pepperonatta which are sweet red pimento peppers cooked in olive oil, garlic and butter. I needed way more of this though because there wasn’t enough for the 4 pieces. The tangy sweetness helped to break up the creamy gnudi and gave it more flavour.
- I’ve had something similar at Lupo Resaurant + Vinoteca: The Ricotta Gnocchi – they’re not really comparable though.
Linguine Fumante – 6/6
- House smoked duck breast, sun dried tomatoes, assorted mushrooms in Grand Marnier demi-glaze cream sauce, drizzled with truffle oil $18
- Ding! Ding! Ding! This is the one. This was the star of the night and this is the one I would recommend and come back for myself.
- The duck is a star anise hickory smoked locally grown Fraser Valley heritage duck. It almost tasted like ham or bacon! It looks like the only give you a little, but it’s actually a lot when you start eating it.
- The duck skin tastes like those skins on European wieners – they almost snap back. I liked it!
- Since it’s smoked it’s not as juicy or sweet as duck can be. It was still good though.
- The sauce was a rich duck demi-glaze and it was delicious! It tasted like duck gravy drippings with a red wine reduction and then cream. I couldn’t tell it was Grand Marnier. It was so creamy and rich in flavour I loved it. It was surprisingly thick and sticky, very well reduced, so it stuck to the pasta very well.
- The pasta was cooked perfectly – al dente! People may think it’s undercooked, but it’s not! If you go to Italy they cook their pastas for 6-7min not 8-9min.
- The dish was delicious overall. I could smell the truffle oil and they used more than I thought they would! It was delicious with lots of juicy strips of mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes should be cut a bit thinner though because at times they were overpowering and very salty and tangy. A little goes a long way…
BC Golden Trout – 4.5/6
- Rolled in mascarpone cheese and toasted almonds, in lemon cream sauce $21
- All seafood entrées served with risotto and seasonal vegetables. All seafood is from local BC waters.
- This was another rich and hearty entrée. It was even richer than the ricotta gnudi and that says a lot! The richness came from the sauce and the mascarpone cheese stuffing.
- It was a big piece of boneless trout with the skin on so there was a lot of flavour. However the skin wasn’t crispy which really bothered me because it was a bit slimy and didn’t go with the texture of the creamy stuffing.
- There is so much stuffing in this trout and it was almost pure mascarpone cheese! It was so rich and thick and it was actually hard to swallow, but it was really good! It had a lemon flavour and was ultra creamy…it was almost like eating a fluffy lemony melted cream cheese with salmon.
- The toasted almonds were ground up in the mascarpone cheese stuffing but I couldn’t taste them at all. They were the size of rice so it came off as uncooked rice or even fish bones. I think they should crust the trout with slivered almonds, or instead of almonds use pine nuts in the stuffing. It would have been a better match as the nuttiness was masked by Mascarpone.
- The lemon cream sauce was almost like a béarnaise sauce or a hollandaise sauce. It was really thick and rich and I could definitely taste the fresh lemon in this as well. It was quite tangy, almost like it had sour cream. As good as it was, I think a lighter sauce might have been nice since the mascarpone stuffing was so thick and rich already. To put it into perspective, after the mascarpone stuffing the buttery lemon cream sauce comes off as light!
- The veggies were tender and grilled with a little olive oil. They actually had a smokey flavour to them as well.
Saffron Risotto – 4/6
- It could have been creamier, but the flavour was there. This was a super cheesy risotto with lots of Parmesan cheese. It was actually stringy instead of creamy and came off as sticky rice or even mac and cheese. It was still really good though. I like the texture of the saffron risotto at Lupo Resaurant + Vinoteca better, but the flavour of this one was stronger.
House Special Tiramisu – 2.5/6
- Traditional Italian cheesecake made with savoiardi biscuits soaked in our secret mixture of espresso and liqueurs, layered with creamy mascarpone filling and dusted with pure Dutch cocoa $8
- The piece was fair but for $8 I think it’s a bit steep. It was worth $6-7 for me.
- It was obviously premade and sitting in the fridge…which isn’t the part that bothers me. But if you’re going to do this then you have to dust the cocoa powder on last minute before serving otherwise it actually looks like it’s been sitting in the fridge! That bothers me.
- I couldn’t taste the Rum or the espresso. Real tiramisu should use espresso and not a mixture of espresso and liquors – it came across as sweet syrup, so it wasn’t a “sophisticated” Tiramisu – although not bad either.
- The Mascarpone was creamy but not thick enough and it came across as whipped cream almost. They also didn’t use enough and the middle layer was too thin.
- The Savoiardi biscuits were soaked quite nicely and it was a very moist Tiramisu, but I really missed the richness of the Mascarpone – which is weird because they used so much of it for the BC Golden Trout.