February 21, 2013

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): A PERFECT COMBINATION: La Bella Vita and Pies On Parade

George and Linda Smith

It was tough — enjoying a spectacular dinner at the Samoset’s La Bella Vita on a Saturday night, and finding room to eat our way around Rockland the next afternoon at Pies on Parade. But we did it!

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IF YOU GO . . .

Samoset Resort
WHERE: 220 Warrenton St., Rockport
PHONE: 594-2511 or  800-341-1650
ON THE WEB: SamosetResort.com
Online dining reservations available through OpenTable.com

Linda

Our late dinner on a frigid January evening at La Bella Vita was a peaceful way to end a busy day. Tables are beautifully decorated with white linens and candlelight. From my seat in the upper tier of the restaurant, I could watch chefs preparing food and tossing pizza dough in the air in the Samoset's beautiful Enoteca Lounge. We could also enjoy the live saxophone and piano music in the Lounge. Lovely.

This is not a stuffy restaurant, despite its elegance. You may order pizza, an array of cheeses or a dinner. Our waiter, Ryan, pointed out specialties from each category, and thoughtfully informed us that the salad I was interested in was big enough for two.

Thin fried onions sat atop a bed of mixed greens, salty olives and gorgonzola. They'd split our salad in the kitchen -- and it was still two good-sized servings. Their reduced balsamic dressing made the salad perfect.

For the next course, primi selections come in large or small portions. We learned our lesson last time we dined here, so this time we ordered two small plates of the fabulous papparadelle pasta.

The last time we were here I ordered the papparadelle and George ordered something else, but he grabbed most of my dish. So this time we each ordered our own. You really can't beat their homemade pasta and ragu of beef short ribs. The sauce is so delicious. My leftovers provided a lunch serving for both of us. A small serving was more than plenty!

We knew we had found the best crème brule here, so it was a given that we would share one. La Bella Vita's version includes chocolate, vanilla and espresso. When a waitress delivered our dessert, George was deep in conversation with the people sitting next to us. She leaned in and said to me, "You really should start in on the one with the raspberry while he's distracted." I am a wonderful wife. I resisted temptation.

Locals and visitors are taking advantage of the fact that La Bella Vita and the Enoteca Bar are now open all year. You will be delighted with the food here, any time of the year.

George

There's something about candlelight, good music and tasty Italian food, all enjoyed while gazing at a huge map of Tuscany -- our favorite part of Italy. Looking at the map, I started planning our next trip!

The wine list is extensive. We selected a Chianti Classico from Rocca Delle Macie, a winery we've visited in Italy.

Taking photos before sitting, I spotted Gordon Page and his wife and friends enjoying dinner. Gordon is in charge of the railroad from Brunswick to Rockland -- a favorite ride for us. Seeing him there reminded me of what a small state Maine is. Friends are spotted wherever we go.

We've also discovered that Maine diners are very friendly. On this evening, we really enjoyed talking with a couple from southern Maine who were seated at the next table. They make an annual three-day winter visit to the Samoset and love the resort and the restaurant.

Walking through the lounge to the restaurant, I overheard a patron say, "This pizza is amazing." While that was tempting, I stuck to my plan and ordered my favorite dish from our last visit -- the Pappardelle Farnese. There are so many tantalizing dishes on the menu that we've got to break out of this Papperdelle Predilection next time!

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