There is a paucity of good Italian restaurants in Madison. There’s the much vaunted Lombardino’s, but paying seventeen bucks for glorified spaghetti with meat sauce isn’t my style. Shamefully, we must admit that Olive Garden is the best budget Italian place in town, having changed its management and recipes a lot in recent years. Osteria Papavero is damn good, but better for special occasion dinners. Cafe Porta Alba is utter crap. Rosati’s is squarely mediocre. Et cetera. We haven’t tried a local Italian place for at least a year. Francesca’s Al Lago doesn’t count since it’s a chain. So once I realized that the last local Italian place with four stars or more on Yelp was only a couple of blocks away from our house, I decided to go for dinner.
Cafe La Bellitalia has a wide selection of all the usual stuff. Spaghetti lasagne fettuccine raviolis etc etc. I had the veal marsala and Schmoops had the carbonara. The spaghetti carbonara came out dry, meaning it was not a proper carbonara. It tasted overpoweringly of cream, even the bacon was a dim note in the distance. We asked ourselves exactly how could anyone take bacon, cheese and cream … and make something so bland. I was afraid that they would not be daring enough to leave the eggs liquid as they are supposed to be, due to people’s far fetched fears of salmonella. Sadly, this was the case. There’s really no point in having carbonara without liquid egg “sauce”.
My Veal Marsala was also bland. And incredibly oily. They chose to cut the veal into ragged unappealing chunks and scatter them throughout the oily pasta, leaving the breading thoroughly soaked with grease. Just leaving the veal filet whole would have done wonders … for the presentation at least. The flavor, even after I seasoned it to my liking, was not nearly as good as the chicken marsala I made a few weeks ago. Even though that particular dish was easily the most slapdash chicken marsala I have ever made.
The service was good though. Some other tables got pizzas which looked kind of good. They sell pizza for $2.50 per slice during lunchtime, that might good. Otherwise I would not go back there.