L'Alta Cucina Italiana

To be honest, Italian restaurants in this country have never held much attraction for me. I suppose it’s because of the preponderance of pizza/meatballs-and-spaghetti types of places where the quality is minimal. This was not the case at Bellini’s in Clifton Park Friday night. But, as you have to expect, the prices are naturally higher than at the run-of-the-mill Italian eating place. Located in a strip mall across from the side of Clifton Park Center, the restaurant has a warm, lovely décor with booths all around and a wood-burning pizza oven at the entrance. The menus for both food and wine are quite lengthy, so you might want to give yourself extra time to look them over.

The waiter Joseph started us out with a warm, yet average, small loaf of bread served with a very good pesto dipping sauce. We chose to share a bottle of nice, woodsy J. Lohr merlot to accompany our meal. The main courses our party chose proved to be one better than another. Mine was a perfectly cooked Saltimbocca. The two chicken cutlets were served on a bed of fingerling potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms in a dark, perfectly seasoned gravy. One of my friends had her Bellini’s favorite: Cavatelli. This dish, which had hunks of sweet Italian sausage, spinach, tomato, and peppers on pasta, was indeed delicious. Our other friend went for the Papardelle, which included seared pieces of chicken with artichokes, asparagus, and sun-dried tomato in a garlic cream sauce. The portions are quite large, so we did the most logical thing: saved half of our meals and ordered dessert! Believe me when I say that one piece of the award-winning chocolate cake was plenty for the three of us! I would describe it as a rich chocolate cake topped with hazelnut mousse. How can you go wrong with that combination? The total bill was just over one hundred dollars before tip.

Apparently Bellini’s is well-appreciated by its diners as evidenced by their expanding business. Other locales include the Bellini’s in Slingerlands--just outside of Albany--and another in South Windsor, Connecticut. They also run Jacob & Anthony’s American Grille in Saratoga. If you like fine Italian food, and don’t mind the price, give it a try.

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