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Bella Saratoga: A harmony of history and the heart of Italy

by Gloria Zhang, Asst. Features Editor

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Sporadic roars of motorcycle engines hammering their ways up Big Basin Way interrupts the otherwise serene atmosphere of downtown Saratoga on a quieter Sunday evening. The pairing of modern bikes and late 19th century buildings seems peculiar, and even unfitting, but the sound of vehicles is regular music for locals, and each dinner party is immersed in soft chitchat.

Bella Saratoga, serving classic Italian cuisine, sits in two-story Victorian home built in 1895. The restaurant continues to preserve the home, while utilizing all corners for dining space, including an outside patio warmed up by hanging gas heaters. Up in a corner, speakers sing upbeat jazz music that further sways away the feeling of chills. A joyful banter erupts about record players as the server presents a basket of fresh bread to a table in the back.

Complimentary fresh bread garnished with herbs is always complemented with a spicy butter-cream dip that starts every meal. Only minutes later, servers would introduce daily specials, including a soup and entrée, before taking orders.

Gloria Zhang

Popular appetizers include crab cakes and caprese, while customers also have the option of salads and soups to begin their meals. A personal recommendation is to order the soup of the day; it is often prepared with seasonal ingredients, such as a cauliflower and parsnip soup in late October. For dinner entrées, the restaurant offers seafood, meat, and pasta. The linguine bolognese is a children’s favorite: not-too-fancy, yet appetizing. There are also vegetarian options, which are embellished with an asterisk in the menu.

Gloria Zhang

Prices vary from 10 to 17 dollars for appetizers, 18 to 48 dollars for entrées and 9 to 10 dollars for dessert.

All desserts, excluding sorbet and ice cream, are handmade from scratch. A customer favorite is the tiramisu, a cake with espresso-and-rum-soaked lady fingers adorned with cocoa powder and mascarpone. For the people who prefer concluding a meal with a fresh palate, fresh berries with a cream sauce or a scoop of raspberry sorbet can do the trick.

Other than lunch or dinner, Bella Saratoga serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Breakfast include omelettes, bakery items, pancakes and more, while brunch offer from poach eggs to pasta entrées. Both meals offer children options.

Customers will continue to journey into the past at Bella Saratoga with its romantic-styled patio and sign “Please, no cell phones” inscribed in the menu.

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Bella Saratoga: A harmony of history and the heart of Italy