A friendly taste of Italy in the Durham Region

Photo by Dan Koehler

A variety of dishes from Bella Notte.

In the heart of Northern Whitby is a piece of Italy sitting right in our backyard.  Located on Brock Street, Bella Notte brings the charm and taste of Italy to the Durham Region while offering a sense of class that for the most part, matches the price.  Hearing the name Bella Notte reminds many of the movie ‘Lady and the Tramp’, but in this case the only similarity is pasta, and a good feeling in the pit of your stomach.

The Italian charisma starts right away.  A simple call to place reservations sets the mood and the conversation finishes with a friendly ‘ciao’.  Upon entering the restaurant it is surprising to see how small it is.  Half of Bella Notte is for private events and the kitchen can be seen from the dining room.  It’s a dark place, but without a sense of gloom.  Guests are greeted by smiles and the smell of garlic.  Even with the small space, it is still a roomy environment with a sense of class similar to a big-city restaurant.

The meal begins with a variety of freshly made bread and a glass of water.  Along with it is warm butter and olive tapanade, a type of spread. The butter was served at a perfect temperature for spreading but the tapanade was overpowered by olive, the main ingredient. The bread was crunchy, yet soft in the middle.

The appetizer came at a speed one would associate with a fast-food restaurant.  It is called ‘pane di formaggio’, which is essentially a fancy term for cheesy garlic bread.  But it doesn’t disappoint.  The mix of fontina cheese and garlic baked on fresh focaccia bread is well-balanced, but the cheese leaves you wanting something with a little more flavour.  The drink took longer than excepted, arriving after the appetizer, but was made well and helped wash down the light and cheesy ‘pane di formaggio’.

Next up was the highly-anticipated ‘lobster mac & cheese’.  An interesting twist on the pasta classic, macaroni and cheese, this dish came as fast as the appetizer and offered a serving size one wouldn’t associate with high-class dining.  The entrée doesn’t leave much to figure out.  The unique flavour of Caribbean lobster with macaroni and creamy cheese sauce was perfectly balanced with crunchy, herb-favoured croutons that arrive on top of the dish.  The expectation would be a cheddar style cheese sauce, but the light and creamy nature of the dish is a pleasant surprise.

If you’re still able to eat after the first two courses then dessert is a must.  The  ‘maple crème brulée’ is to die for.  The fluffy classic tastes better than imagined with a crunchy maple sugar top.  The top layer is quite rich, but don’t let that take away from the delicious mousse that lies under.

Overall the restaurant provides what a high-class, big city restaurant has, just with a discounted price.  One trip to Bella Notte will leave you saying beautiful night, the Italian translation for Bella Notte.

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Dan is a second-year journalism student at Durham College, who enjoys writing about music, the environment, politics, and opinion pieces. He also hosts a show on Riot Radio and works as a volunteer technician. Dan loves spending time at his cottage and has a wide array of unusual pets, including reptiles and arachnids. In the future he hopes to work for a radio station while doing freelance photography.