A good friend of mine (from college) was in town for a wedding not too long ago, and we were lucky enough to meet up for dinner at Bella in Hollywood. I had only gone to Bella once before, and I barely remember that experience. From what I recall, I was pretty much phaded after a pretty long night next door at L'Scorpion. The birthday festivities were crashing fast, and we stumbled into Bella for one more round of drinks before trucking ourselves out to some random diner in West Hollywood for late-night eats. This night would be a completely different experience.
I was a little hesitant about going there... afterall, it is one of the spawns of The Dolce Group -- known more for their affiliation with Ashton Kutcher more than anything else (think Dolce Enoteca, Les Deux, and Ketchup). I was expecting over-priced fare, not-so-exciting flavors, and a vibe more concerned about ambience and kitsch than the overall dining experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find Bella to be quite the opposite.
The place wasn't overwhelmingly mod (unlike it's sister spot, Geisha House), and it wasn't super-intimidating. It was cozy (as cozy as an L.A. cucina can get, at least), and the service was nice. We started off with a round of drinks at the bar, then went into appetizers with fried calamari. That was standard - nothing out-of-the-ordinary (think Maggiano's or Buca di Beppo). But the main entrees were what really hit the mark. Because I was an idiot, I had eaten before heading out to dinner (working out prior will do that to you). So by the time I got to Bella, the only thing I could think of having was a salad. I chose the Insalata Bella, which was a mix of chopped greens, mozz, salami, and avocado -- tossed in a vinaigrette. It was a simple salad, but very flavorful. The salami wasn't too salty, and it actually went well with the avocado and mozz. My friend had the Pollo Con Picata, a chicken dish prepared with lemon butter and a caper white wine sauce. Her boyfriend went with the Osso Bucco D'Agnello -- braised lamb shank with parm risotto. My other friend went with a steak dish, which ended up being more of an arugula salad with steak chunks. Not at all what she was expecting, but it tasted amazing nonetheless.
All in all, the experience was decent because everyone cleaned-off their plates. The drinks flowed, and since we were stuffed, we skipped dessert. And after parting ways with my old friend, the other half of us went along our merry way to make the best of our night out in Hollywood: Pig 'N Whistle, Geisha House, L'Scorpion... and then a quick stop at Stone Fire Pizza Co. in West Hollywood for more drinks. Good company, good food, and plentiful libations all make for a perfect night out in Hollywood.
1 year ago