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When you work irregular hours it is sometimes hard to find a nice sit down restaurant open during the time between lunch and dinner. Today we found such a place. This wasn’t our first choice, but wanting to bypass the lines of its neighbours we directed our attention here. Good thing, as I think that what we had for how much we paid was better than the coffee and pastry we were originally aiming for.

We approached the hostess booth manned by two young women, one of which assumed the role of our server. We confirmed that lunch would be a speedy affair and sought a seat by the window, giving us the patio and sidewalk as our view. Great location, but it’s out of the way proximity meant we struggled to get service. Waving hands for refills and attempting uninterrupted eye contact to get the bill.

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The days were getting colder and the handsome patio out front was left unseated. Chairs with light wooden limbs and black faux leather cushions looked as comfy as anything available to us indoors. The large red umbrellas with their logo kept sun or rain out of the way, though the latter was more prevalent these days. The umbrellas were the only things that differentiated this patio from the other adjacent two.

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Inside, the room was cozy and warm. The accumulation of curiosities gave the space character. And the every day wear of fixtures gave aways its age. An antique globe on a weathered cabinet, a book shelf of tattered encyclopedia volumes by the washroom, and a bust in stone smirking proudly on the counter. The restaurant was ready for winter with a trimmed pine tree, a lit garland, and hanging sequinned ornaments. They helped to make the rest of the room festive and more homey.

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There was ample seating during the 1:30pm lull. Still in time for a late breakfast, and not yet time for happy hour. In the corner was their bar. A space set up to serve both gourmet coffees and specialty cocktails. Milk steamers and jiggers side by side. Shelves dedicated to teas leaves and coffee beans came together with bottles for wine and spirits. Each glass table top table was partnered with a bergère, an enclosed upholstered French armchair. It added an nice den-like feel to the room.

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Being an expert in art, my guest immediately pointed out what she felt was “strange”. While the cuisine was Italian the decor took its influences from the Spanish. Spanish colonial architecture in the tiled roof fixtures and iron railings. And Spanish influences in the mezzanine, the second level in a room with one floor. This was a balcony more for show than any given purpose.

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The menu was divided between meal types. Breakfast was a page that included the traditional eggs, bacon, and pancake platters; along with bagels, oatmeal, omelettes, and eggs Benedict. There were even frittatas: an open faced, deep dished, three egg omelette. Happy hour went from 2:30-6:00pm with 50% off all appetizers. Bar classics like chicken wings, calamari, onion rings, and various fries. And Italian inspired small plates like “gamberi fritti”, beer battered prawns with a lemon dill aioli. “Bruschetta pomodoro”, prosciutto, tomato, garlic, and basil in a balsamic reduction. And “truffle Parmesan fries”. For lunch or dinner salads, pasta, and large entrees were available. Again, Italian influences were prevalent: a “meat lasagne”, a “vegetarian cannelloni”, their daily risotto, and “veal parmigiana”.

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There was a lot I considered ordering, but we went with what lured us in the first place, the lunch special. Titled the “Bellaggio sandwich combo special”, this was the “chef’s creation” rotating from day to day, but stagnant at $12.50 each day. We lucked out on having it be vegetarian today, this accommodate my guest’a dietary preferences. The sandwich combo with our choice of soup, salad, or fries.

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My guest had her mushroom pesto sandwich with fries, and I had mine with New England style clam chowder. The marbled rye sandwich was filled with a large portobello mushroom cap, grilled red and yellow peppers, Swiss and mozzarella cheeses, and their in house made pesto spread. Each sandwich was accompanied by a side of spicy mayo, a handful of fried onion strings and a mound of fresh greens. I found the sandwich’s filling uneven, one large mushroom was used as the patty centring the sandwich, this meant not every bite came with mushroom. And worse, bites at each end came without fillings or sauces. Though when you get the right mouthful things were good. This is the type of sandwich you crave again.

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The soup was a New England style clam chowder. With an unexpected tomato base I was surprised to see a red light broth, as apposed to the more familiar thick white creamy one. The soup was filled with chunks of calm and diced vegetables. A soup that ate more like a meal, one that well complimented the vegetable sandwich. I preferred the sound of this over the vegetable barley.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If a simple sandwich special was this good, I can only imagine how delicious their pastas entrees were. I would like to try more in order to given a more concise review. So for now its a “like” and will return. Don’t deny your cravings.

BELLAGGIO CAFE
773 Hornby Street, Vancouver BC, V6C3G1
604-408-1281
bellaggiocafe.com
Bellaggio Cafe on Urbanspoon