Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bella Vita

This is the time of the year that makes you want waterfront dining I guess...and since options are somewhat limited here in the middle of the country, we were intrigued to try out Bella Vita on Geist Reservoir. Years ago, when we first moved here, a friend told me it was her favorite place for date night and I always kept it on the list, but only now finally got around to trying it.

This was a time when I checked out the menu before going in and was a little excited by the fact that even though it is Italian (and I think I have mentioned how I have yet to find an Italian place I love in this town), it had a wider menu than the standard alfredo and red sauce and pasta all smothered with cheese that you see a lot around here. It also sits right on the marina at Geist and has a nice view of the lake. We really enjoyed the setting and were hoping for the best.

We decided to start with the beef carpaccio and the truffle fries. The carpaccio was described as thin beef with parmesan cheese, capers and olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I am not sure why they decided that they needed to take the carpaccio and turn it into crostinis, but it was not carpaccio. It was toasted bread with melted cheese topped with thinly sliced raw beef, roasted red peppers, large slices of parmesan and a couple of capers and a fairly heavy dash of balsamic syrup. When we ordered this, we wanted something light. This was certainly not light. And the biggest pet peeve about the whole plate was the roasted red peppers, which brings me to my next point. When you are making your menu, if there is some ingredient that will dramatically change the flavor of the dish, such as roasted red peppers, please list them in the ingredients. Especially when you take great care to list every other ingredient. Because for me, a roasted red pepper is a dominating flavor, and also happens to be one that neither I nor hubby particularly like. So basically it was pepper flavored beef on bread (hubby says more like pepper flavored bread since the delicacy of the meat flavor was totally lost). And the balsamic was a little heavy too, so the delicacy of the flavor of the meat (which was pretty thin, although not as thin as I would have liked) was completely lost between the peppers and the balsamic.

The other appetizer we ordered, the truffle fries, were even worse. So they were called “fries” but they were obviously not fried, and now looking back at the menu, they are actually baked, and there was nothing remotely crispy about them. They were also slightly undercooked, so there was the added benefit of not only not being crispy, but being too firm as well. There was some cheese melted on top, and apparently some truffle oil drizzled there too, although I didn’t taste it. Although, I didn’t really taste much of this dish because they were not good. Don’t call something “fries” unless they are. And ewww, don't serve ketchup with truffle fries.

Luckily for hubby, he ordered a pasta dish that turned out to be pretty good. It was “Papardelle Oceano.” These were large wide noodles with crab and shrimp in a basil cream sauce. I had some of it and it was enjoyable and worth ordering. The bites of crab were fresh and not at all stringy the way crab mixed in dishes like this often is. Hubby was quite pleased and felt that the restaurant had redeemed itself somewhat, although h is entrée was supposed to come with a salad which never came.

I had a spinach salad with blue cheese, boiled egg, pancetta and pinenuts (and unmentioned shredded carrots, not my fave). It was tossed lightly with a creamy parmesan dressing. I was let down with the salad as well. There was an enormous amount of spinach and what appeared to be no toppings. But as I dug down (which took some effort with all that spinach), there was actually quite a bit of blue cheese buried at the bottom (not as much of the pancetta and pinenuts). Because the salad was seriously underdressed for the amount of spinach, I asked for some extra on the side. Once I sort of dug out the goodies and added the extra dressing, it wasn’t bad. But I only ate probably a quarter of it.

The last annoying thing about this place is that the service was pretty slow. I think they may have been a bit understaffed for the crowd, as I only saw about three servers outside and it was filling up, including many large parties. For instance, the bread they brought to every table (except ours) turned out to be very good, but we had to ask for it and didn’t get it until the end of the meal. Like I said, hubby said his pasta was one of the better pasta dishes he has had in the City, and because of the view alone, we may go back one day. But for me, it won’t be based on the food or the service.

Bella Vita
11699 Fall Creek Blvd
Fishers 46256

Bella Vita on Urbanspoon


  1. I've been there three times, and that is pretty much the description of my experience. HORRIBLE service! After out last experience where we actually saw our server take shots at the bar while he ignored our table, we spoke to the manager who basically laughed us off. I think they're getting by on the location and the "nightlife" (which is really a bunch of "cougars"). I did like the pasta I had, but it didn't make up for the horrible service. I will not be back.

  2. Although you enjoyed the seafood pasta in cream sauce, I shudder whenever seafood is prepared in such a sauce. Because seafood has delicate, nuanced flavors, covering it in a heavy cream suggests that the fish is either not fresh or you're dealing with an inexperienced head chef. My guess from your review is that it's both.

  3. I've eaten here a few times, both lunch and dinner, and also in its former life when the place was known as "Blue Heron" and the time before THAT one...whose name escapes me right now) (Yes, this is another of those "repurposed - same building" places with multiple lives over many years) Except for one visit I was always there as part of a dining party where the reservation was made by someone else.

    Never had any memorable (in the good sense) food there, at best passable. I agree with the poster above, I think they are getting by on the location to a large extent. That one time when I went there - in the afternoon - was when I was taking an out-of-town friend for a drive around the neighborhoods of Indy and environs and I dropped by there because we were in the Geist area and we wanted a drink (more than food, actually) and a nice view.

  4. Jessica in NoblesvilleMay 23, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    Even after reading the recent reviews of Bella Vita, a friend and I decided to give it a try. It was a perfect night to be on the water. Service started off friendly, but she would disappear for awhile (granted it was very busy) and she didn't offer to go over the specials, we had to ask. As food arrived, our waitress and the other servers pretty much threw the plates on the table while walking past us, then checked back 10 minutes later to see if everything was alright.

    My friend and I shared the champagne risotto as an appetizer, and it was very tasty. The risotto was perhaps a little softer than it should be, but the asparagus was sweet and perfectly cooked, and there were several nice large slices of portabella mushroom.

    We split an entree of their dinner special, cannelloni stuffed with a lobster and ricotta mix, topped with shrimp and their basil cream sauce. It was nice that they split the plates for us, but we were charged for it $1 to each of us, without being made aware of the charge. We each had exactly one half of a butterflied shrimp on our plate. However, it was cooked just right. The cannelloni pasta and lobster filling was actually very good, we both enjoyed it. The basil cream sauce went well with it. Even though we shared the entree, neither of us could finish a single cannelloni, so we brought leftovers home.

    Overall, bad service, adequate food, and a nice view ... I'd go again, but only if I could also enjoy the view.

  5. I have recently moved to this are and have heard alot about Bella Vita, so we decided to give it a try. We started with the lobster mac& cheese which me and my wife thought were very good, especially with the truffle oil. We were brought our salads right after we finished our mac and cheese and ordered our entrees. I had the Romano Crusted Scampi and my wife had Ravioli con Pollo. Both dishes were absolutly delicious. Much different from your typical Italian food much to our delightful surprise. The service was great, our server took their time in helping us with our menu selections and making sure that we were taken care of the entire time during our dining experience. I was even able to speak to the owner who also came out to see how our experience was. To top all of this off Bella Vita sits right on the marina and we had a wonderful view of the lake sitting right next to the fire place. I will most definatly be returning to Bella Vita and am excited to see what they have instore for this summer.

    Michael from Fishers