Ciao, Bella! Bellini’s is serving up a big dose of fantastico.

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The Patio
The Pond

Ciao, Bella! With renovations and innovations, Bellini’s is serving up a big dose of fantastico.

My parents used to have this wooden sign hung up above our kitchen counter that read, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

The quote is a line from culinary chef Julia Child that they heard while watching reruns of her cooking show on PBS. Bellini’s Ristorante and Grill is not afraid to use butter. Or cream. The chefs generously drizzle both onto each plate that is slid in front of you and then ask if you would like fresh Parmesan on top.

The atmosphere of the entire restaurant is meticulously crafted even in the hallway leading to the black wrought iron gate that opens onto the main dining room. There are Jean D’ylean and Leonetto Cappiello posters lining the hall and sepia photos of archways I cannot recognize. I ordered the ravioli fungi entrée and bread pudding dessert. The food is great. The ravioli is creamy and stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, while the bread pudding is rich, sweet and oozing chocolate. Of course, at a restaurant such as this one you expect the food to be great.

What was unexpected was the service. It was the kind of service where each server views you as his or her charge. Your glass is filled and your empty dishes removed by anyone on the team who is nearby. It leaves one feeling pampered.

Waiting for my table in the bar area, I sit across from a Chanel tweed suit who is animatedly conversing with a Michael Kors quilted leather handbag. On my left is a roundtable of suits clinking their scotch glasses together. However, next to them sits a pair of cargo shorts and baseball cap enjoying a family meal with his wife and son.
Owners Alain and Michelle Buthion previously lived for a time in Italy and draw inspiration for their restaurant from that experience. Alain, who is also the head chef, revamps the menu several times a year in order to keep the selection fresh. New items appear depending on what’s in season and old items are updated with new ideas, often times incorporating customer suggestions.

Al fresco dining reaches new heights at Bellini’s.  The patio over-looking the pond and fountain on Pennsylvania Avenue, with wisteria covering the wooden trellises overhead, creates a one-of-a-kind ambiance.  Recent renovations and updates on the patio include a circular fire pit.  Can you say, romantic?  Hello cooler, perfect-for-dining-outside weather, we missed you.

Bellini’s has been in business since 1990 and won the Diner’s Choice Award from in 2010. Their signature cocktail is the Bellini, which is made with peach nectar, cognac, and champagne. All desserts are crafted in-house, save for the “sinsation”, Italian cream cake, and chocolate mousse cake. One of their well-known desserts is the tiramisu, which the restaurant serves in a coffee cup. Celebrities, such as Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, and Tori Amos have all sat at the coffee-colored booths, while enjoying the soft music that plays through the sound system overhead.  Unlike the geese in the picturesque pond, penny-pinchers and dieters won’t be flocking to Bellini’s, but every once in a while, isn’t it nice to “live and let die?”

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