I think this is the third Bella to be reviewed on here, and once again it is an Italian restaurant. There seems to be a rather lot of them in Ulsan these days. I remember back to 2001 when there were only a couple of Italian restaurants to speak of in town. Anyways, this Bella is located on the twelfth floor of Hyundai Department Store in Samsan Dong. Nearby you have Del Monico’s, Bella Di Notte, and Lark Sun, but say you are too lazy, or the weather is too poor for you to venture beyond the confines of the building, yet you crave Italian. Will Bella Citta satisfy your desire for Italian food?
At the entrance to the restaurant there is a menu on display to help build up your appetite and check out the selection and prices. Inside Bella Citta is decorated in earthy tones. There are a lot of browns and grey. There is a wood theme to the interior decoration. The dinner mats have a wood grain pattern to them. To my eyes they looked rather like linoleum floor samples with a wood grain pattern. This pattern continues on the walls, though in grey. All in all it is a rather pleasant, and even comforting place to dine in.
On the menu there are the usual suspects: minestrone soup, caprese salad, a selection of cream and tomato sauce based pastas, risottos, and, of course, pizza. If you feel so inclined, there is a selection of wines from Europe and South America. I found the menu to be reasonable priced. For the mains the prices ranged from 10,00 to 16,000 won. Since my dining companion, my wife, and I were not feeling overly hungry we settled for having just the mushroom risotto and the diavola pizza.
Once we had ordered, the waiter brought out a small basket with two thin slices of bread and a couple of crackers, along with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Although, it wasn’t really balsamic vinegar, it was a reduction, so it was thicker, stickier, and sweeter. Personally, I did not mind that. I enjoyed the sweet taste of the dipping sauce. We did not have to wait long for our food to arrive. (Granted we were the first customers of the day, so they weren’t that busy.)
So how was the food? The risotto was tasty and had large pieces of mushrooms in it. The portion size was decent. Not too small, not too large. Considering how fast they were able to make it, and judging from the look, the chef used precooked Korean short grain rice rather than authentic Italian rice. The pizza was fairly good. They do the thin crust style pizza at Bella Citta. The pizza was a bit too heavy on the cheese and too light on the tomato sauce for my liking. Though, seeing as how most places go heavy on the cheese, I might be in the minority with my preferences. The crust was soft and chewy, and tasted quite nice. I think that was the best part of the pizza. The sauce, the bit I could taste at any rate, was good. The pizza had a nice spiciness to it, not too spicy, but not too mild, just enough to let you know it is there. It wasn’t the largest of pizzas. It was, maybe, nine or ten inches across. It was enough for one person. The meal was served with some homemade style pickles. Beware the green chili pepper in the pickle dish. It was quite spicy.
I found the service at Bella Citta to be quite good. The staff were friendly and attentive. They kept a close watch on our water glasses. Once our cups neared empty the servers would promptly refill them.
How does Bella Citta compare to some of the other Italian restaurants around town? Fairly well, I would say. Their pizza is a step above what you would find at Pop Factory, Mari’s (which I found to be extremely disappointing), and Primo, the newish Italian restaurant in Ok Dong. I would rate Bella Di Notte’s pizza above Bella Citta’s. The former’s pizza has more sauce, less (but better quality) cheese and more flavour. Risotto wise, Bella Di Notte’s is better, but, sadly, they no longer serve it. As well, Lark Sun’s risotto is better. I have yet to have risotto at any of the other Italian restaurants in town, so I cannot offer a comparison there. I would guess that it would be as good if not better than most places. It was a good risotto, just not an amazingly good one. Service wise, Bella Citta was really good. I never had to struggle to get the attention of one of the servers, unlike at some other places I have been to. Though, the small layout of Bella Citta helps with that a lot.
So what is the answer to the question I posed at the start of this review. Is it worth it to go there? I would say yes. For what you get it is good value. The food is reasonable priced, and it is better than some of the Italian restaurants around town. So, if you are in Hyundai Department store and fancy a bite to eat, just pop into Bella Citta and enjoy your meal.
An apology about the photos. The quality of the photos isn’t that great since they were taken with a smart phone. Also, I kept forgetting that I was reviewing the restaurant and started eating the food before taking the photos. My apologies.
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