When I was in Cape Girardeau, MO recently, I had the pleasure of taking the owner of Stereo One, John Selby, out to lunch. John is one of my industry's true gentleman and it's always great to spend time with him. We went to a spot in downtown Cape Girardeau called Bella Italia.
Actually, I really wanted to take him to one of my all-time favorite places, the Royal N'Orleans in Cape Girardeau. But John wasn't certain they were serving lunch any longer. We stopped in and, unfortunately, he was right. The Royal N'Orleans was closed for lunch. That's too bad as it had been a long time since I last ate the Royal N'Orleans and I don't get to Cape Giradeau all that much.
Bella Italia is literally around the corner and down the street from Royal N'Orleans (see map), so John suggested we try there. They were definitely open for lunch and had a nice sized crowd in the place when we walked in. We were seated at a table by a host and started to peruse the menu.
The interior of Bella Italia is subdued and sort of elegant. The tables are adorned with red and white checkered table cloths. There's a nice bar area with a large walnut bar and a small outside patio in front of the building.
Our waitress came out with a basket of bread and got our drink orders. She gave us a few minutes to go over the menu. And I'm glad she did as there were a lot of great things to choose from. And it gave us time to dive into the great homemade bread.
I was looking at a couple of things - the Europa Cavatappi, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, broccoli, tomatoes, black olives and Cavatappi pasta in a garlic cream sauce. Man, that sounded great. I also had my eye on the fettuccine carbonara, peas, pancetta and proscuitto in their white cream alfredo sauce.
But I ended up going with one of their lunch specials that day - baked rotelle pasta in a tomato cream sauce with Italian sausage, grilled chicken and artichokes topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. John got the canneloni stuffed with ground beef and veal, then topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. We both also got the house salad made with their homemade Italian dressing.
Mainly because we were talking so much, we didn't have our salads finished when they brought out our lunch. The baked rotelle in the tomato cream sauce was very, very good. It had a little bit of a spicy bite to it and was very flavorful. I really liked the Italian sausage. It was nice big chunks of spicy pork sausage. And the chicken wasn't dried out like you sometime get with grilled chicken that is, in turn, baked into a dish.
John proclaimed his canneloni was "excellent". He said, "My wife and I haven't been down here for quite some time. I keep forgetting how good this place is."
And it was very good. I would put Bella Italia up against any Italian restaurant I've eaten at in St. Louis or Chicago. It was that good. John also told me Bella Italia also had very good pizza. I thought they probably would as the Italian sausage was excellent. I'm hoping to make it back to Cape Girardeau sometime in the future to give their pizza a try. All in all, I have to say I was happy Royal N'Orleans was closed or I would have never been introduced to Bella Italia.