That Food Guy
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
  Bella Vista in Peters Creek, Alaska
Recently reopened after renovations, we went to Bella Vista with some friends. Over the years we have been to this restaurant several time. On a frontage road paralleling the Glenn Highway, in the almost community of Peters Creek, Bella Vista relies on word-of-mouth and repeat business because drive-by customers are minimal. Over the years, the food and the service we received at Bella Vista has succeeded in bringing us back many times.

Unfortunately this was not one of the better visits. Perhaps the late hour, perhaps the pounding rain and wicked thunderstorms (while we were in the restaurant, the lightening strikes did cause a power failure in half the state of Alaska that lasted for hours) or perhaps even the vagaries of restarting the kitchen after a shutdown were all causes. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t as good as it usually would have been.

Our guests ordered fried oysters as an appetizer. They were nice tasty, crispy fried, breaded oysters with a side of snappy cocktail sauce. They disappeared quickly after our friends offered to share.

I ordered the salad. Everyone else ordered the soup, clam chowder. Dinner table conversation was accented by the clack of spoons as the clam chowder, good as usual, disappeared. My salad was the most basic antipasto, a small salad made of some lettuce, a slice of cucumber and a cherry tomato. I was proud of my self for eating my greens but I secretly wished that I too had ordered the soup.

Our guests ordered scampi marinara and egg plant parmigiana. The plates were attractive and appeared well cooked and by reports, was tasty and well prepared. My wife ordered the cannelloni instead of her usual small pizza. (They make Lombardi-style pizzas with a thin and crisp crust but offer a large selection of toppings.) The cannelloni was tasty and well prepared, ample in portion. A bit of the cannelloni was taken home in a box.

My lasagna, alas, was a different matter. They serve the portions in ramekins and heat them in an oven or salamander. The cheese on my lasagna had gone way past melted and golden brown. Although it didn’t taste of burnt cheese (it tasted quite good, in fact), it did limit my appreciation for my Bella Vista favorite.

In mid meal, when the power went out, other patrons hurried and soon the restaurant was nearly empty. All the while the staff was attentive but didn’t hurry us and we finish our meal at leisure. It was a good meal at a familiar and comfortable setting, in the company of close friends. Even though I would have desired a larger and more interesting salad and wished my lasagna had been removed form the oven a bit sooner, I enjoyed the meal and yes, we will make other trips to Bella Vista, Mile 21 ½ on the Old Glenn Highway in Peters Creek, Alaska.

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