So - gotta love Restaurant.com - I went on a buying spree and got a bunch of gift certificates at 80% off! One of them was for Cafe Bella in Mason - I didn't know anything about it - but I checked out their menu and it looked very good! So my friend and I decided to give it a try!
The interior is nice and warm - I really like it. Lots of red and gold... It's a small spot in a strip mall but it's really cozy once you're inside.
There was an all-you-can-eat pasta special that sounded great - only $11.95 for salad, bread and pasta! The regular menu options were all very tempting as well...we had a hard time selecting an appetizer.
We were figuring out what we had to spend so that we could meet our $35 bill - not really that difficult there - but we wanted to be sure we got a good sampling!
To start with I tried the lentil soup - it was not very good. It really just tasted like minestrone (their other soup option) with lentils instead of pasta. It had a bit of a curry taste but other than that - nothing really that interesting.
Scott got the pasta special so he got the salad...
Looks pretty simple - but it was very very well dressed. There were also tomatoes and pitted greek olives. We both enjoyed it quite a lot! Next up - the entrees! With the all-you-can-eat there were 4 options... Scott went for chicken/zucchini/marinara for the first bowl...oh yeah - he went for 2 bowls!
Scott did get a 2nd bowl - he got fettucini with marinara and meatballs. I forgot to take a picture but it wasn't noteworthy. The meatballs - in my opinion - weren't good. They were like rolled up balls of hamburger - no seasoning. I wouldn't get that again.
I chose the Pork Tenderloin Norcina. It was really great. The pork tenderloin pieces were very thin and the cream sauce is made with brandy and I'm definitely thinking there was some garlic in there as well. There were also mushrooms in the sauce. It was served with a few red potatoes cooked very nicely and some green beans (a little underdone for my taste).
We knew the bill had to be $35 so we had tried to plan ahead and wanted to save room for dessert. They had a lot of offerings but we chose the apple tart with vanilla gelato. It was pretty darned good! I liked the puff pastry and my friend liked the middle (I thought the apples weren't done enough). The gelato was definitely the best party though - it is homemade and has a very rich vanilla flavor!
Overall, the meal wasn't too die for - but we did enjoy it. The selections were unique and the quality was there. The portion sizes were solid as well. The standouts were definitely the chicken zucchini pasta meal ($12!) and the gelato - yowza!
Cafe Bella is also "mediterranean" - so for dessert for example - they also had baklava and hummus is an appetizer choice. We stuck to the italian side for the most part - but I'm sure the other is good as well.
Overall - we went over our $35 by quite a bit - the drinks are pricey ($9 for a martini). But I'd say for the pasta special - it's a great deal. I don't know that I'll be back just because there are a lot of other places I like just as well closer to my neighborhood - but I'd recommend to people in the Mason area.
I'm gonna be quirky and say 2.75 stars...it's a nice place but maybe a little expensive for the overall appeal. But I did like it and the food was tasty - I think I'm getting stingier with my ratings ;-)
5948 Snider Rd. (@ Tylersville Rd)
Mason, OH 45040