Sometimes you go to a music festival for a headliner and the opening acts surprise you. It’s like that one time we went to Made In America for Billie Eilish and subsequently heard a band led by a girl playing a recorder doing hip-hop covers. Even though we found some new songs we listen to in the shower, it didn’t come close to the excitement of seeing a star performer.
At Bella Vista’s Fiorella, all of their pastas could be the headliner—not just on this menu, but at any Italian restaurant in the city. Things like tagliolini with clams, ricotta gnocchi, and rigatoni with sausage ragu will wow you, not to mention the appetizers are a pleasant surprise.
When you walk into this Italian spot, you’ll notice some of the antiques and remnants from the old space, like wooden piggy banks, an old metallic cash register, and the Fiorella Sausage butcher signage. But it’s not all throwback charm inside, as they have a giant and shimmering purple Venetian chandelier dangling in the middle of the dining space. Although, even with that kind of upscale fixture, a meal here is nothing like a fancy experience you’d get at their sister spot Vetri Cucina. The relaxed space inside only consists of a 14-seat bar and a few chairs along the walls. The cozy seating also means you have an intimate view of the chef flipping handspun tonnarelli in a creamy romano sauce or tossing rolled raschiatelli with chunks of guinea hen in bolognese.
It’s safe to go for two or three small plates and all of the pasta, especially if you’re with a group. Outside of the salad and fried mozzarella mounds, you should also go for the beef carpaccio that’s thinly sliced, briny, and comes served with perfectly charred beets. These opening acts get you ready for the pasta dishes you’ll pass around the table.
All of the pasta options range from $20-$25 and come with seasonally-changing sauces that rotate as often as the colors on Boathouse Row. No matter what options they have on the menu, they’ll be some of the best pasta you’ve had in your life. They do keep one dish on the menu regularly, their rigatoni with Fiorella sausage ragu, and it’s the best thing here. Plus, if you order their warm and fluffy focaccia bread, you can make a whole second meal out of sopping up any leftover pasta sauce.
They’re open every day of the week, which is great because that’s how often you’ll probably get the urge to eat here. The covered outdoor seating makes it a place that’s perfect for anything, from a fun date night to a group meal. Because it’s so good, know that it’s somewhere that takes a bit of planning ahead (they often only have 4pm reservations available). But when you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation, you can just park up at an antique stool, eat an app or two, and taste some pasta that will get stuck in your head easier than a woodwind cover of “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
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The menu here changes often, but here are some dishes you can expect.
When you want an appetizer that’s light and allows you to save room for every pasta on the menu, you can’t go wrong with these long strips of thinly sliced beef with beets and a creamy gorgonzola sauce.
Mozzarella In Carrozza With Tomato
We love cheese as much as Mr. Rogers loved sweaters. And nothing is cheesier here than these giant cubes of fried milky mozzarella that come with a tangy tomato sauce.
Rigatoni With Fiorella Sausage Ragu
We love this pasta so much that we were tempted to spend the entire review on it. But for now, we’ll just say that this bowl filled with nuggets of peppery sausage, thick tomato sauce, and small flakes of parmesan on top is a pasta dish that will consume your every thought after you try it.
Tagliolini With Clams And Prosecco
One of the lighter options on the menu, each strand of pasta gets some sweetness from the wine sauce it's coated in. The clams absorb the prosecco and garlicky liquid, and this is exactly what you should order if you don't want something too heavy.
Ricotta Gnocchi With Broccoli Rabe
If the rigatoni is the winner of the entire pasta section, this dish is the runner-up. These orbs get a slight kick of bitterness from the broccoli rabe, and the gnocchi themselves are light and pillowy.