Bettola is one of those amazing examples of what Italian cuisine should taste like, and it all happens under one small and beautiful location in The Upper West Side. This area of Manhattan hosts a ton of moderately sized restaurants who excel in their own cuisines, and Bettola is no exception. I took a friend there late last week to experience what they had to offer, and suffice to say, we were left with a big smile on our face from beginning to end.
Bettola’s origin story is one of passion and circumstance, sparked by the fateful meeting between Giga Leszay, a veteran manager in need of a chef, and Vlado Kolenic, a rockstar who defected to the U.S. from former Czechoslavakia in 1979 and discovered a love for global cuisine when he toured around the world. The pair met on a ski trip when one of Giga’s friends recognized Vlado from his former band, TAKTICI, and the two became friends and took ownership of Bettola in May 2016.
Vlado uses his natural creativity and passion for connecting to people through music as he does with food, incorporating the global influences and techniques he cultivated on his travels as a musician to create the inspired dishes at Bettola.
Vlado has quite the charm and personality about him, which we got to know throughout our stay and it actually made us understand his love for cooking even more. You can see that in each dish that he made, as the taste and execution for all of them were simply divine.
Here is what I recommend the next time you are in the mood for the best of the best in Italian cuisine at Bettola. For salads, their Caprese reigns supreme as it is a timeless dish which they have done so well at. Something more original that also tasted phenomenal is their Honey Bee Salad, which came with baby Arugula, Pecorino, Apples, Walnuts and Nectar Dressing. If you are watching your figure this holiday season, the Honey Bee is a great way to go as it packs so much pungent flavor while not killing you on calorie count.
I love any restaurant with a wood burning oven, as I find it makes the dishes taste so much more fresh and well balanced. This of course, includes pizza, where we tried their Salsicia, which comes with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Hot Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Basil. No joke, the best pizza I have had in years. It tasted so fresh, and the best part of the entire pizza happened to be the caramelized onions as they gave such a node of sweetness to the rest of the ingredients.
I am a big fan of Scallops, however I have never had them with a lightly breaded rice flour. This allows the scallops to have a great bite to them, and the rice flour really does the trick with the perfectly cooked scallop. Simply amazing.
Moving onto Pasta, we tried their Wise Guys from Bolognese dish, which came with freshly made Fettuccine and Meat Sauce. I always find that when pasta is made fresh on premise that it is hard to really make the dish taste bad. The Fettuccine was so tasty and the Bolognese Meat Sauce was hearty and great for a cold winter’s day.
Overall, I would highly recommend Bettola for anyone who enjoys Italian cuisine done with a modern and a classical taste. For more information on Bettola, check out their official site.