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Getting Your Ital-Mex Fusion Fix at Bellissimo

Bellissimo is the Heights-area trattoria with a tinge of taqueria.

That same butter sauce is also put to good use on the grilled red snapper, plated on a bed of angel hair pasta and covered with crabmeat, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and twin grilled shrimp that are paired in an embrace on top of the whole affair. It's a tiny little touch, but one that brought a smile to my face when I saw it. As with every dish at Bellissimo, you can both taste and see the effort that went into its execution from start to finish. Nothing here comes from a box. Nothing is frozen. Nothing is cooked ahead and reheated. Everything is fresh.

Not everything is perfect, naturally, as with a couple of so-so salads: a Caesar that desperately needed dressing, and a caprese salad with somewhat bland beefsteak tomatoes under otherwise nice ingredients: broad, plush basil leaves and hunks of passable mozzarella cheese. And the carcioffi fritti — fried artichoke hearts — sounded terrific in theory, but I was puzzled to see only one artichoke heart quartered and fried instead of the promised four. There's a pretty substantial difference between "four artichoke hearts," as the menu states, and one artichoke heart cut into four pieces, but I couldn't fault the wonderfully spiced poblano pepper sauce underneath nor the $5 price tag (which should have been my first clue that I wouldn't be getting four whole hearts).

I'd also like to see more of a push at lunch, since Bellissimo is already open during the day anyway. Take one of the terrific menu items — the thin-crust pizzas that cleverly repurpose the most popular pasta dishes into pizza toppings, or the meaty lasagna or the eggplant parm that's bursting with fresh vegetables under more of that chile gravy-like marinara sauce — and make it the daily special. Offer a smaller portion with a correspondingly smaller price.

Black beans, jalapeños, cilantro and diced tomatoes shouldn't work in an Italian pasta dish, but at Bellissimo they do.
Troy Fields
Black beans, jalapeños, cilantro and diced tomatoes shouldn't work in an Italian pasta dish, but at Bellissimo they do.

Location Info

Map

Bellissimo

1848 Airline Drive
Houston, TX 77009

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Heights

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Crab cakes: $9.95
Pasta alla Bellissimo: $9.95
Calle 25 pizza: $8.95
Calle 25 pasta: $9.95
Lasagna: $11.95
Grilled red snapper: $17.95



More On Bellissimo:

Slideshow: Bellissimo: Trattoria with a Tinge of Taqueria
Blog: Opposites Attract: Italian-Mexican Fusion Works Wonderfully at Bellissimo



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Luckily, there are two lunch-only sandwiches that are served on crusty Italian bread like a classic grinder. The meat-filled sandwich with plenty of pepperoni and sausage is my favorite of the two, and you can offset at least some of the protein and carbs with a pleasant spring mix salad that comes on the side (this one dressed nicely in a tangy vinaigrette).

Lunch is just one area in which I hope to see Bellissimo grow and mature over the years. And I do say "years" intentionally, because I have a feeling this wonderful little Heights trattoria will be around for many to come.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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7 comments
john1934
john1934

Pasta with black beans, chicken, cilantro and tomatoes is one of Prego's best dishes. It works so well I make it at home minus the jalapeno fettuccini since I can't find it anymore.

AwesomeMargie
AwesomeMargie

My Mexican-Italian self is super happy right now.  Yum!

jeffbalke
jeffbalke topcommenter

So glad they moved. I could never stomach the long wait at the old location no matter how good I heard it was. Can't wait to try it now since it is less than five minutes from my front door. If they get lunch rolling, it will be worth the 6 or 7 minute bike ride.

KublaConn
KublaConn

Whenever I try out a new Italian restaurant, my go-to, test dish is always eggplant parmigiana and Bellissimo passed the test with flying colors.  

Jenandtonic
Jenandtonic

Bellissimo serves up fantastic food. I haven't been to their new location, but their old location had a good, reasonably priced wine list which I'm excited to see return once they get their booze license.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@KublaConn I didn't get to expound on my own eggplant parm, but I really enjoyed it. In particular, the terrific amount of fresh spinach stuffed between the layers along with the ricotta cheese.

KublaConn
KublaConn

@kshilcutt I agree with you, the spinach was a key factor in my enjoyment of the dish.

 
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