Wednesday, September 27, 2006

italian/revisited: BELLINI PASTA PASTA

No. 16, Sung Shou Road, 2F
inside Warner Village Theaters
(02) 2758-6096
hours: 11:30AM- 11 PM


date reviewed: 9/11/2006

There's so much pasta, BELLINI PASTA PASTA has it twice in their name. With four locations in Taipei, Bellini Pasta Pasta features family style portions of salads, appetizers, pasta and desserts with friendly service and casual atmosphere.

On this day, I felt like eating some bolognese spaghetti and was near the Warner Village. I placed an order to go and was offered a place to sit and some ice water as well. The server asks me if I want my pasta soft, and I say al dente. The inside of the Warner location features long wooden tables and benches, and view of the chefs cooking. It's smaller than I expected, so I can see why there would be a wait for a table on a busy Friday night. Luckily, it's before dinner time and a weeknight, so my pasta is made pretty quickly.

The Bolognese spaghetti ($390) here comes with two soft boiled eggs on top. I've never seen this before elsewhere-so I don't know if this is an Italian thing, a Japanese thing or a specialty of Bellini's, but it's surprising combination that works. The tomato meat sauce is flavorful and slightly sweet and the soft boiled eggs cook a little more when mixed into the pasta. There's not a lot of meat, but enough sauce to cover all the spaghetti. I also thought that the meat sauce was perfectly flavored, where often I find Macaroni Grill's pasta to be on the salty side. The portion would easily be enough for 3-5 people, so you could order a few different pastas family style if you went with a group. I ordered it to-go and could not finish it. The leftovers heated up pretty well for a few days afterwards too.

In the past, I've also enjoyed their Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and their Clam Linguine looks quite good. I'm not sure about their other locations, but the Warner location has a "show window" by their entrance, of their pastas captured in plastic model form to catch your eye. Their menu is in English and Chinese and features a lot of the pasta names in Italian. Their business card has "Bellini Tokyo" on it, so I know they have locations in Japan, but I'm not sure if that is where the chain originates. EIther way, I'm glad to have it here in Taipei as an option for easy, friendly, tasty and quick Italian food.

new visit reviewed: 9/27/2006

Last night, I had a chance to try out to-go Bellini Pasta again. Even though I wanted to order the Bolognese meat sauce again, I decided to try out new things. I ordered a vegetarian cream pasta and Pizzetta Half & Half pizza (NT$230) (which includes 1/2 pesto with shrimp and mushroom, and 1/2 red sauce with eggplant and cheese) as well as the Spaghetti with shrimp and mushrooms in basil pesto sauce (NT$460).

This was the first time I got a chance to look at the to-go menu which includes antipasto, a couple gratins and risottos and a lot of spaghetti and pizzettas. While Bellini does have one Lasagna dish, all the other pasta dishes are spaghetti- no penne, linguine or fettucine in sight. Because their portions are "family size," they also feature "Pasta Half & Half" - 2 types of pastas and sauces for the equivalent of a 1 dish size/price at NT$480 such as the spaghetti in tomato sauce w/ pork cutlet & spaghetti with yuzu mentaiko, calamari and snow peas. Sounds interesting right?

Unfortunately, tonight I found my pastas to be rather bland. The cream sauce was barely there and the sparse combination of mushrooms, bell peppers and romaine lettuce was not really drool-worthy.

The pesto pasta that I had been looking forward to was also in need of some salt or garlic or ground pine nuts or fresh olive oil. Something to make it more aromatic than the slightly creamy, heavy looking and tasting pesto spaghetti we got. It had me missing the pesto pasta I had awhile back at Guy's Cafe or the bolgonese pasta I had a few weeks ago.

The pizzette fared a little better, although the red sauce again was stronger in flavor than the pesto slices. The pizzette was smaller than I expected and being cold when I got home to eat it probably didn't help it either.

While I think I would still go back to Bellini Pasta Pasta for the unique Spaghetti in meat sauce and soft-boiled eggs, I don't think I will get anything else but the red sauce based spaghettis if I decided to try the Milanese style chicken or the pork cutlet. They are still friendly and quick, but for more flavor, you'd probably have better options with the similarly priced Macaroni Grill nearby or Cosi O Cosi which also features pasta on the lighter side, but with a fresher, home-style spin.


NO. 218 Chung Hsiao E RD, Sec 4
ATT mall/building, 2nd FL
(02) 8771-3099

No. 39, Fushing S RD, Sec 1
(02) 6606-0688

No. 12, Kuan Chien RD
(02) 2388-8558


Anonymous said...

The last time I was in Yokohama loooong ago, was the first time I saw a soft boiled egg in bolognese. It's da bomb! (although you know me and eggs, haha)

Wow, if I ever make it out to Taipei, I think Hungry Girl will make me gain 20 pounds!

joanh said...

wow so interesting! so i guess it is a japanese thing!

Urban Epicurean said...

...or a taiwanese thing :D

my mother loved to crack an egg at the very end of cooking a soup based dish, like corn or noodle soup. she also made a clay pot dish of soy sauce, anise, pork, hard boiled eggs which simmered for hours until the rich brown sauce cooked through the eggs right to the yolk! mmmm. as an adult, I find eggs to be the quickest, easiest, and most delicious subtitute for protein.

needless to say, your picture made me hungry!

joanh said...

hey cat! i love to crack an egg in my noodle soups too- whether it's udon or ramen or hotpot.. but i've never seen it in pasta! but it was good!

Ken said...

Yes, the boiled egg/raw egg thing is definitely all over Japan. What you see in those pictures are 温泉卵 おんせんたまご, soft on the outside and either soft on the inside or slightly hard on the inside. The half-boiled one that's hard on the outside, but gooey on the inside, is called 半熟卵 はんじゅくたまご and is a favorite topping on top of ramen.

My favorite, though, is Japanese breakfast 卵掛けご飯 たまごかけごはん. You take a raw egg, pour some soy-sauce (preferably soy-sauce specifically made for eggs - they have this in Japanese supermarkets), mix it, and then pour it into a hot bowl of rice. Mix some more and eat. Some people also put natto 納豆 into the mix. You obviously need very fresh eggs to do this, so even though I love this dish, I don't try to make it outside of Japan.

BTW, when you see 月見うどん or 月見そば (tsukimi udon or tsukimi soba) on the menu, it is a raw egg thrown on top of your noodles. Poetic, isn't it?

Booyah! said...

I heard somewhere that Bellini is a Japanese-style Italian restaurant (if that makes sense to you)