With both Florence and I finally back in town, we decided to have a long overdue catch-up over a lunch hour. We opted for La Bella Italia on the Terrace, conveniently placed near Florence's office.
La Bella Italia are pretty big on the Wellington Italian food scene: their warehouse-cum-eatery in Petone is more than worth the train fare, and their imported Italian cheeses and meats can be found in Moore Wilson's and other places that sell gourmet food products. Their shop/deli/cafe on the Terrace, lovingly named La Bambina ('the child' - whereas their original Petone store is called La Mamma) is perfect for an indulgent weekday lunch.
While Florence indulged in a glass of Rose Masseria Altamura ($9), the recommended wine pairing for her main, I had a cappucino ($3.50). It was a treat: just the right amount of foam to balance out the milk & espresso underneath. Plus, La Bella Italia uses L'Affare beans, which is always a thumbs up in my book.
The spaghetti gamberi e rucola ($19.50), spaghetti with prawns and rocket, came tossed in a chilli-garlic-olive oil combination* that's quite typical in Italian cooking. The spaghetti was perfectly al dente, the prawns plump and succulent (though a bit on the small side, the quantity was more than plenty), the chilli providing just enough bite to leave a mild yet lingering heat on the tongue. Delicious. I would have preferred more rocket, though in hindsight I wonder if they got our garnishes mixed up, as it seems like Florence had a heap of rocket on her dish whereas the greens on mine were mostly parsley.
Florence ordered the manicaretti con prosciutto cotto e pesto al basilico ($17.50): crepes made of flat pasta, stuffed with a dreamy mixture of ricotta, cooked prosciutto and basil pesto, baked with a layer of cheese and tomato sauce on top. It was airy yet rich, mild, flavourful.
True to their roots as importers/purveyors of fine Italian products, La Bella Italia's Terrace location also has a deli area selling cheese, cured meats and other Italian products. Not only is it the perfect spot for a business lunch, they have a good selection of gelato, biscotti, slices and the like, making it a great coffee spot too. And I'm sure at some point one of us will check out their breakfast menu!
La Bella Italia Bambina N. 1
101 The Terrace
(04) 499 1155
Open Mon-Fri 7am-late. Closed Sat & Sun.
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*I somehow managed to splatter a drop of this oily sauce onto my new silk top, much to my embarrassment. It seems to only happen when I'm wearing something nice, too... whoops!