I had already looked at the menus on-line so I knew what I wanted to appear before me; a glass of prosecco to accompany my order of Alici Marinate. These fresh Italian anchovies with red peppers cooked in white vinegar and extra virgin olive oil were like nothing we get out of those little cans. These boneless fish were mouth watering delights with a bright flavor and texture that paired perfectly with the prosecco.
For her Antipasti Caldi my bride requested the Parmagiana di Melanzane, sliced eggplant layered with mozzarella and basil, topped with homemade tomato sauce; a rich and filling dish that could have been a main course.
Our dining partners shared a Antipasto Meriviglia with a side dish of thinly sliced and grilled eggplant.
Two at our table ordered the house Cesare Salad, a bland creation that was Cesare in name only and was unnecessary considering the amount of food yet to come. If served after the entrees, as is traditional in Italy, these salads would have been good palate cleansers and aid in digestion. Sadly, we were not in Italy.
The entrees were works of gastronomic delight. Two in our party ordered the Cannelloni Tampa filled with chopped spinach, chicken, roasted garlic, mozzarella, fontina, Parmigiano and ricotta cheeses, topped with a Parmigiano cream sauce.
The manly men at our table eschewed the creamy stuff and asked Gigi to "Bring us the meat!" We gazed in awe at the perfectly prepared Carre' d' Agnello, New Zealand rack of lamb sautéed with brandy, and Italian herbs in a garlic and demi-glace sauce.
If the rack of lamb didn't blast the buds of taste into orbit, then the fall off the bone Osso Buco Old Style did the deed. This veal shank on the bone smothered in rich demi-glace based brown sauce, served over fettuccini was superb.
The renovated Villa Bellini Restaurant and Lounge is located on a piece of property in existence since 1929. The building, inside and out, is a treasure. The food is good and the prices are reasonable for an up scale Italian eatery. My bride and I waddled out the door $171.20 lighter in the wallet, but the evening was a most pleasant family dining adventure.