Friday, September 02, 2011

3 of 10: Sweet Bella

[This is the 3rd restaurant I'm reviewing from the "binge bucket list" my friend Yang and I drew up.]

I hate the color pink, but somehow the very pink interiors of Sweet Bella didn't repulse me as I entered the dining area on the second floor of the cute cafe in Burgos Circle. I actually chose a table with one of the fat pink couches and sank into it with the cozy feeling of having come home. Indeed, there's a very homey vibe to Sweet Bella, from the furniture down to the food. The menu is what I call simple chic, uncomplicated fare created with quality ingredients and presented prettily.

Yang suggested we try the Quatro Funghi pizza, a thin-crust pie with
oyster, button, shitake, and winsu mushrooms. It turned out to be the best thing we ordered. The crust was crisp, the toppings generous, the cheese rich but not cloying. The combination of the 4 types of mushroom was earthy and tasty, leaving me half-wishing I hadn't ordered an entree so I could have had a second slice. Yang and Angelo split a seafood chowder, while I had the French onion soup. Yang said their soup was good, and was "light for a chowder". Mine was satisfying, but definitely not the best French onion soup I've had. The onions weren't caramelized enough, and the broth could have used a tad more onion flavor.

For entrees, Yang had the salpicao with garlic rice, Angelo had the "Cafe Monster Burger", and I, going on our server's recommendation, had the Spaghetti Amatriciana with Seafood. The salpicao was cooked perfectly, judging from the pink color inside each morsel of beef, and my carnivorous friend polished off everything on her plate. Angelo said his burger (which came with a poached egg instead of the usual fried) was ok, and I'm sorry I neglected to take a photo of its impressive size (we were so hungry I totally forgot to take photos until desserts). My pasta came in a big bowl, with the noodles cooked al dente, and adorned with 3 big mussels and lots of plump shrimp. I loved how the briny taste of the seafood mixed with the mild tomato sauce, and I didn't mind that as a whole the dish was a wee bit dry.

As if we hadn't stuffed ourselves silly yet by this point, we ordered 2 desserts to share: a lovely strawberry tart served with thick chocolate sauce, and Sweet Bella's famous creation, the Chocolata, described as "
moist chocolate cake layered with rich ganache topped with chocolate glass". They were as divine as they looked, and we thoroughly enjoyed them paired with excellent coffee (a Nespresso latte for me) and tea (TWG Moroccan Mint for the Quimsons).

I only have 2 (minor) gripes about Sweet Bella. One is that the service was kinda... scattered. I guess it's understandable given that the waitresses have to keep going up and down the stairs, shuttling between the dining area and the kitchen. But oftentimes the dining area was left unmanned, and it would have been helpful if they had those little buzzers on the tables. Second complaint it that it's pretty pricey. The desserts especially are overpriced (P300+ for a small cake or pastry), and even with our 2 Cash Cash Pinoy coupons (good for P2,000), we still had to shell out a thousand bucks to cover our bill. Then again, considering we ate enough food to feed about 5 people, I guess it wasn't as exorbitant as it sounds. That's what we get for being gluttons!

Sweet Bella would be a nice place for an afternoon or evening hanging out with your girl friends, or for guys, it can be a cute place to bring a date for coffee and dessert (trust me, the cakes make a great impression!). It's everything you'd want in a cafe: cheery ambiance, comfy chairs, and of course, good food to share with good company.


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