Bella Italiana: Potawatomi's Beautiful New Italian Restaurant
You can go to Potawatomi Hotel and Casino and have a great time without spending a cent on a game of chance. The complex includes bars, a live performance venue, charming gift shop and many options for the hungry. One such place is the new Bella Italiana, ensconced on the third floor of the casino.
1721 W. Canal St.
Handicapped access: Yes
CC, FB, GF, RS
Tu-Th 4-10 p.m., F-Sa 4-10:30 p.m., Su 4-10 p.m
Bella Italiana, in the former space of the Wild Earth Cucina Italiana, is, indeed, a beautiful (and comfortable) dining venue with recessed and indirect lighting, soft-colored walls, gentle, Italian American music, candle-lit tables and upholstered seating. Servers are friendly and helpful. The whole ambiance is that of fine dining, but sans both intimidation and wallet-thinning prices. Its menu is extensive—numerous options for appetizers, flatbreads, pastas, soups, sandwiches, salads, entrées, desserts and beverages. Of the latter, Bella Italiana provides imbibers with about 40 different red, white and sparkling wines, plus—thanks largely to an attached full bar—many mixed drinks, cocktails, Italian sodas and beers. Various coffee and mineral water options exist as well.
At our recent visit, we opted for an appetizer of calamari fritti—a plateful perfect for two of quick-fried, lightly breaded, crispy and juicy squid served with a warm house red dipping sauce. Other appetizer options include mussels steamed in white wine and garlic butter, crispy cheese and mushroom risotto and a baked artichoke and spinach cheese dip served with crostini (crusty bread slices). All 11 appetizers are priced at either $7 or $10 and are plentiful enough to share. Other side-starter items include four different flatbreads ($8-$11), minestrone or cream of tomato basil soup and Italian house or Caesar salad; the salads can be enhanced with chicken, shrimp or salmon for a few extra dollars.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich rather than a full, plated dinner, Bella Italiana has three options, the highlight of which is the Italian beef and pepperoncini, with thin-sliced prime rib seasoned with mouth-popping pepperoncinis, served au jus ($15). Sandwiches come with a choice of kettle chips, Caesar salad or soup.
We opted for full dinners, however, which the menu helpfully divvies up into subcategories: classic pastas, pasta favorites, signature pastas, classic entrées and specialty entrées. Each category consists of several options and, for an additional $3, a Caesar salad or cup of soup. Even more additional items can be added to your dinner; there’s a list of 10 of them, ranging from $2 to $6, at the end of the dinner section of the menu.
Bella Italiana makes choosing even easier with their $18 dinner special (this was my partner’s choice and proved especially handy since he’s not quite used to Italian food). Hereby, you’re given the choice of soup or salad, an entrée of spaghetti with meatballs or Italian sausage, fettuccini Alfredo or cheese ravioli, and a dessert (tiramisu, gelato trio or cannoli). As for me, I went for the veal Marsala ($26)—several sumptuous veal medallions nicely immersed in a delectable gravy of Marsala wine and mushrooms, served with rich Parmesan mashed potatoes and green beans.
Our visit showed us that at Potawatomi’s Bella Italiana, everything is homemade, portions are generous, options are plentiful and prices are reasonable.