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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian West Village Moderate Good


Based on aesthetics alone—the warmth of the wood-burning oven, the saffron-colored walls, the rustic country tables, the pine floors, the long and inviting bar, and the French doors flung open to Minetta Lane—I would dine at Bellavitae on a regular basis. It is the sort of spot that you yearn for when you leave—a place that leaves your cheeks warm and pink and your belly nice and plump from the simple pleasures of the Italian table.

But there is more to this sweet little restaurant than looks. Like a sexy guy who turns out to also be emotionally available, able to part with his golf clubs, and interested in eating something other than chicken wings at least once a week, Bellavitae is way more than a pretty face.

Bellavitae is the first restaurant from Rolando Ruiz Beramendi, who owns an eponymous 15-year old import business where he sells all manner of artisan Italian products—olive oils, cheeses, vinegars, condiments, pasta, rice, and more. It is a New Yorker’s dream pantry (and lucky for us, it’s all for sale there.) The kitchen, led by chef Darren McRonald, who was most recently at The Four Seasons in Costa Rica, and has cooked at Chez Pannise, Le Cirque, and with Jonathan Waxman over the years, enthusiastically employs this pantry of riches, putting them to delicious work in antipasti, crostini, grilled vegetables, salads, rustic handmade pastas and main courses like Chicken Cacciatorie with Black Ligurian Olives ($17) and Brick Oven Roasted Pork ($17).

When we sat down on a warm, rainy night a few weeks ago, Jamie and I were greeted by a waiter who, quite frankly, had me at Buona Serra! After we chose our wine—a terrific Vino Nobile—(the list is organized by family winery), Pasquale (our waiter) told me I reminded me of a beautiful Sicilian actress, Maria something or other. “Your eyes, you hair, you are so beautiful!” he said, in his rich and delicious sing-songy Italian accent. I was done. He could have served me cardboard layered with sawdust and sewage juice, and I would not have cared. Flattery will get you everywhere.

Well, almost everywhere. Yes, this place is more than a pretty face, but like some men (and a few of us girls too), it’s got some issues to work out. The arancini ($7)—rice balls with gorgonzola—were quite forgettable. They were crisp and golden and shaped like tater tots, but they were not creamy or melting with gooey cheese on the inside—they were dry and free of ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in West Village :
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