Bellavitae [Closed]

24 Minetta Lane,

New York, NY 10012

(212) 473-5121

March 2009

Proprietor Jon Mudder left the high-flying world of investment banking to open Bellavitae a few years ago. Based on what has transpired in global markets of late, it looks like his timing was brilliant.

Bellavitae is one of my favorite places in New York for simple, homemade Italian comfort food of the highest level that is based on the freshest and highest quality ingredients. The service is exceptional and the kitchen will split almost all of the dishes, which allows guests to sample a wide variety of the house specialties, an approach I heartily recommend. My two most recent dinners were outstanding, and this article aggregates the food and wine of both meals.

The small plates of fried arancini and meat balls were perfect to share amongst friends. The Galloni prosciutto (no relation) was incredibly luscious yet delicate, as was the Mozarella di Bufala which had been flown in that day. Both pastas we ordered were tasty, but the Pappardelle with Lamb Ragú was perhaps just a touch more flavorful. For the main course, we went to our usual choice, the Tuscan steak, which was cooked and seasoned to perfection. I am not a huge sweets person, so Bellavitae’s simple, homemade desserts are my cup of tea. The Ricotta Cheseecake in particular was divine.  

Bruno Giacosa’s 2007 Arneis was simply beautiful in its floral, honeyed fruit. The wine showed tons of inner sweetness balanced by a clean, minerally finish. It was one of the best bottles of this wine I have tasted and it paired beautifully with the arancini and meatballs. Ceretto’s 1996 Barbaresco Bricco Asili was phenomenal. A big, explosive wine, it revealed tons of fruit in an expansive, generous style. The wine was still young, but the oak was beautifully integrated and the balance was exceptional. Readers lucky enough to own this gem can look forward to another 15-20 years of very fine drinking. The 2004 Barbaresco Riserva Asili from the Produttori del Barbaresco was an entirely different animal. Medium in body, this layered, perfumed Barbaresco revealed remarkable depth and clarity in a less immediate style than the Ceretto. This wine is all about potential, and there is no shortage of it here. I immediately picked up another 6 bottles. Wow.

This was the second bottle I have had recently of Mascarello’s 1997 Barolo Riserva Ca’ d’ Morissio, and it was truly special. Upon opening, the wine appeared a touch tired but it freshened up and blossomed over several hours in a decanter. A kaleidoscope of red fruit, smoke, minerals, spices and licorice flowed from this sweet, utterly captivating Barolo. Everything was perfectly in place. Simply put, this Barolo was pure magic. In 1999 Mascarello did not make his Riserva, but the 1999 Barolo Monprivato has always been one of the finest wines of the vintage, as it was again on this night. The wine showed less stuffing than the 1997 Ca’ d’ Morissio, yet it too was phenomenal in its endless layers of dark, spiced fruit. The tannins have softened a bit, but this remains an extraordinary young Barolo with several decades of prime drinking ahead of it. I only hope I can keep my hands off the wine for enough years to see it reach maturity! Both of these Barolos from Giuseppe Mascarello are essential drinking. 


Appetizers: Fried Risotto Balls with Tomato, Provolone, and Prosciutto; Fried Little Meatballs; Hand-sliced Galloni Prosciutto di Parma; Mozarella di Bufala

Pasta: Fresh Pappardelle with Lamb Ragú, Fresh Fettuccine with Sausage and fresh Mushroom Sauce

Tuscan-style sliced Steak with Salsa Verde

Dessert: Chocolate Gelato with Hazelnut Sauce, Tuscan-style Panna Cotta

drizzled with aged Balsamic Vinegar, Ricotta Cheese Cake 



Bruno Giacosa Arneis



Ceretto Barbaresco Bricco Asili



Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Asili



Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Riserva Ca’ d’ Morissio



Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato


-- Antonio Galloni