Faisal Hussein and his partner Bill Nakanishi recently opened Bella Italiano (14642 Memorial, 281-493-2903), where Tokyo Steakhouse used to be, on Memorial at Dairy Ashford. Nakanishi also owns Sushi Jin next door, and Hussein owned another Italian restaurant called Capriccio. "We specialize in seafood and pasta and we make everything from scratch, every day," says Hussein. "Everything is homemade, including our desserts, and we're reasonably priced, including our wine list." Speaking of the concept, Nakanishi says, "We're a fine-dining restaurant with a casual atmosphere. We have live music on weekends, the atmosphere is elegant and you can definitely tell it's an Italian place."
Dish found Bella Italiano to be an elegantly decorated neighborhood spot. We took Nakanishi's advice and tried the pasta mista, which consisted of spaghetti Bolognese, shrimp and spinach-stuffed ravioli, meat lasagna and a meat-filled cannelloni. The dish is an excellent sampler of what Chef Martin Bustamante can do. We also tried the osso buco, which we felt came with too much sauce. The zabaglione, an egg custard over a wineglass full of strawberries, was good despite the fact that it lacked some of the traditional flavors and ingredients this dessert normally has. With a wine list with many bottles for around $20 and a great-looking bar, Bella Italiano should prove to be the kind of Italian place that this neighborhood needed.
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