Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bella Sera-something totally unexpected!

First off, I have to say, I am SOOOO behind.  Like stuff from May behind.  Ouch.  But I have been crazy busy, working out, working on the house and just plain working. 

But when I get the rare chance like today to post, I'm going to!!!  I certainly have more than enough to post about!

This post will be relatively brief compared to some of my past reviews, but that's ok.  For our one year anniversary, I bought my bf tickets to go see Ron White.  I am personally not a fan, but I know he loves him, so I knew he'd love to go.  He grew up in Schiller Park, close to the Rosemont Theater where he was performing.  Bella Sera is actually a restaurant inside a hotel, near O'Hare airport.  BF passed it everyday on his way to and from work for years.  He's always wanted to try it, so since we were heading out there, we went. 

I wasn't all that impressed walking in.  It's in a Quality Inn, not a Hilton or Marriot, so you kinda wonder... hmm...  is this gonna be a dump?
Well, no one was sitting in the restaurant, but being it was still early on a Friday night, that wasn't so off for us.  There were a handful of people at the bar.  We got seated and our server was very enthusiastic about the menu.  Sweet girl, we really kinda thought that she was being so enthusiastic b/c she saw the unsure looks on our faces and didn't want us to run.  :)

So I ordered roasted chicken and grilled veggies drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  BF ordered linguine pasta with broccoli and green peppers (weird right? It was a create your own pasta... he picked it!) and a garlic oil sauce.  I'll be honest with you, I seriously thought this was going to come out w/ some boring old veggies that were way over cooked, next to dry chicken.  Wow, I have to say I was sooo wrong! 

Look at that!  Now when our server was adamant this was the best chicken and veggies in the world, I was like, yeah ok.  But OMG.  I saw it and knew that whoever made this took care in what they were preparing.  I was hooked before I even took a bite. 

Take a closer look---

Everything was perfectly cooked.  The bottom layer is a whole potato, cut into four thick slices.  They were not mushy, but by no means were they hard.  They were perfect to hold up the rest of the dish and tasted amazing, especially with the juices from the chicken on top of it soaking into it. 
The chicken is the next layer.  My only complaint was that the half chicken was skin-on, bone-in, but honestly, it was not a big deal.  I think it kept it juicer. 
The tomatoes were so plump and juicy.  I LOVE grilled tomatoes.  LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  They were piping hot when I bit into them and they were flavorful and bright tasting and JUICY...  like dripping down my chin juicy.  Yum. 
The zucchini and yellow squash were also perfect.  The red onions were a nice touch, draped throughout, adding another of my favorite flavors. 
The balsamic reduction was delicious.  Sometimes, I find they can be too sweet or too tart.  This one had the perfect balance b/w the two.  It was thick enough to keep the flavor on the food, but not to thick that you felt it like gel.  I've had a balsamic reduction that was for thick; it's gross. 

BF's dish was good too, although, you could tell he was majorly jealous of mine.  When when he tried it, you could see the hesitation in his eyes before he said no to a second bite...
His pasta was full of garlicky flavor, something we both love.  There is not enough garlic on dishes sometimes, I feel.  But this one wasn't overloaded to the point of that garlic kick that you can get with not full cooked garlic.  It was that buttery garlic flavor that you get from roasting or sauteing it. 
He inhaled the pasta.  The broccoli was perfectly cooked, no hard crunchy pieces, but not so soft it was breaking when you picked it up with your fork.  I could have done w/out the green peppers, but I wasn't eating it...  It was not so thickly covered in oil that it dripped from the pasta when you put it in your mouth, but it was enough so that it was not dry.  And of course he added fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  The man can't have anything Italian with out fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

All in all, we loved this place.  I was full when it was done, but still wanted more.  I felt like I didn't want the eating to stop, it was that good.  Whether you live in Chicago, or are here on vacation, it's definitely a place to try! 

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