The Dining Divas Feel Home Sweet Home at Bella Vino in St. Charles

**Lisa Kampeter photo** revisedThe Dining Divas

By Lisa Kampeter

It doesn’t happen often.  Before the Dining Divas even finished their meals, the ladies were already talking about a return visit.  One Organized Diva had her next order already decided.  Another Aggressive Diva had even requested several of the restaurant’s business cards to share with people she knew.  We all had a great time, and, all agreed, Bella Vino is fantastico.

New to historic Main Street in St. Charles, Bella Vino already fits right in.  On this cool winter weeknight, the blazing flames from the fire pit on the front patio invited passersby to warm up and get cozy with a glass of wine.  Once you step inside, the welcoming ambiance and friendly atmosphere makes you feel like you’re stepping into someone’s home, so much so that you may consider grabbing one of the adorable throw pillows and getting comfy on one of the bench seats.  Thankfully, not even the Ornery Diva considered doing it.

Because it was the “month of love”, leave it to the Creative Diva to present the Senior Single Diva with a gift of “pick-up lines”.  She also shared the love by spreading conversation hearts all over our table.  The Candy-Loving Diva immediately grabbed these “candy” hearts to pop them in her mouth.  She didn’t realize the “candy” was actually rubber, as in, an eraser.

Bella Vino offers a tapas menu.  A couple Divas have struggled with the concept of the smaller dishes, but the rest of us believe their true struggle is sharing.  Typically with tapas, you order several of the small plates, enjoying a taste of many menu items, and then you share them with others in the group.  For some, they worry they’ll leave hungry.  For those that understand the concept of tapas, they savor the tastes and appreciate not being stuffed afterward.

This night, there was an overload of sharing.  I’m not really sure what we didn’t try.   We tried some Prosecco for “Wine Wednesday” (which means half price wine bottles!)  We tried the flatbreads, a fabulous choice for the pickier Divas.  Several of us tried the Camponelle, a light pasta with shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and olive oil.  We all loved it.  One of the Divas requested it with a little red sauce, and they happily accommodated her.

The Orrichiette Tanti Bacci is another pasta dish with a beefy tomato sauce and a little kick, just the way we like it.  The Calamari with Saffron Lemon Aioli was a delicious surprise.  The aioli was a nice complement without being overpoweringly lemon tasting.   And the calamari itself was not at all standard.  They were large strips lightly breaded and fried to perfection. The Crab Stuffed Bella Mushroom Caps were another surprise, chocked full of crab meat.

If you’re in need of a little comfort, the Pimento Mac and Cheese is the answer.  The cracker crust and pimentos is such a welcome twist to this adult version of the traditional classic.

Before dinner, the Sweet Tooth Diva told everyone to save room for dessert, especially the Gooey Butter Cake, even though she’s typically not a fan of it.  The entire table agreed that this was incredible.  Slightly warm and served with cinnamon ice cream.   What a great way to end their meal!

On the downside, more than once did we feel the need to apologize to our neighboring diners for our loudness.  Bella Vino is extremely cozy, and for situations like ours, with a bigger group, we probably should have been seated in an area outside of the main dining area.  We hoped we didn’t offend anyone, but like I said, when you enter Bella Vino, you feel like you’re entering someone’s home.  Perhaps we did take that to the extreme.   After all, several of the Divas are Italians, and if you’ve ever been to dinner at their homes, you’d know what it’s like.  Loud!

But what a compliment it is when you feel like you’re right at home in a restaurant.  Bella Vino’s atmosphere and wait staff makes you feel that way.  And Bella Vino is right at home on Main Street St. Charles.

 



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