Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bello Ristorante - Québec‏

'A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside
and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you
like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the
world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.' ~ Alice Munro

My Muse has given me much, gives me much, so I like to do things to make her
happy and smile. She mentioned Québec City and its many culinary establishments
and wanting to take a break. Research, Google and on the recommendation of a close
family member, I planned a three-day weekend. Québec City is a very beautiful,
authentic, cosmopolitan and extremely clean government town…and by the way...
NO POTHOLES! In the heart of this vibrant 'ville' is Vieux-Québec (Old Québec).
Old Québec evokes images of closed street fairs of a bygone era, outdoor cafés
and sport bars, specialty shops and bakeries which have always been a major
factor in the allure of this city within a city. The city of Québec, to this wanderer,
was always of no interest to me and partly due to the way it is portrayed in the
media vis-à-vis the English-French dynamic, until recently. Nothing is further from
the truth. The French in Montreal should take lessons from the French in Québec.

Our first night, after settling in at the hotel in the center of the downtown core
and a stone's throw from one of the gates to Old Québec, we began our 'excursion
gastronomique'. It was going to be a culinary journey through the streets of
Québec City.
When the car manoeuvred into a small space between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari,
you couldn't help but feel transported to the streets of St. Paul in Old Montreal,
where the cobblestone streets run perpendicular to the terraces filled with the
young, the hot and the hip. Except these cobblestones were completely shaved
evenly, so no bumpy rocks of extreme shapes and sizes. The concrete façade of
'Bello Ristorante' is like a beacon guiding the ships at sea, across the street,
ther bistros overflowing with patrons, enjoying the cool, warm, early summer
As we were escorted to a table at the edge of the terrace, we are immediately
greeted by a young and very tantalizing server in a skimpy little dress, accentuating
her natural-born assets, who says, "Bonsoir M. Borsellino", and hands us the
wine list and the menu. Every table of the terrace was filled, including most of
the tables inside. There are two arched doorways leading you to the dining room,
the floor-to-ceiling glass doors were encased and out-of-sight. The décor is
neo-classical fused with a brush stroke of Louis the XIV. The twenty-five or so
wooden tables, arranged tightly, accompany well the stone walls. Very artsy -
Old World!

We begin with a bottle of 'Beni di Batasiolo Barolo'. This wine is made from
Nebbiolo grapes grown on the slopes of the Barolo winemaking area located
on the lower spurs of the Langhe. Barolo is distinguished by its ruby-red color,
full-bodied, dry medium nose, featuring refreshing acidity on the palate. It
showcases a marked tannin content which gradually gives way through skillful
maturing in wood and leads to a soft, medium finish --- velvety, delicate flavour.
The food is the story. At 'Bello' the excitement is on the plate. The ingredients
are exotic, the plate presentations are decorative, and some of the flavour
combinations are downright adventurous.
For starters, an 'Arancine siciliane' ... these incredible rice balls filled with
a ragù sauce, mozzarella, and peas coated with breadcrumbs and fried. The
filling was sweeter than regular 'arancini' and the breading was light. Another
entrée, a 'Salade d'Homard', had meaty, succulent lobster tossed with yellow
bell peppers, crunchy celery and spicy onions all in a creamy base. Luxuriously
Flavours come alive again with the main courses one of which a 'Tartare di
Manzo'. Beef tartare with olive oil, lemon, and salt of the Himalayas with a
never-ending supply of thin, crisp bread slices. The meat was tangy in the right
doses…being an aficionado of the dish. Chapeau!
The other was a 'Risotto au canard' --- several roasted duck breasts, trimmed
green beans, minced shallots, duck fat, Arborio rice, red wine, chicken broth,
grated pecorino, mascarpone, and a few drops of truffle oil. It was like Heaven
on your palette.
With our 'café macchiato' we indulged in a delightfully, crusty 'Tarte au
citron'...made of short crust pastry and lemon custard filling. Piquant! A meal
here is most pleasurable, service is so friendly, discreet and professional that
you get the feeling you're eating dinner at a friend's house.
As we are finishing our dessert, I notice a man-about-town, who looks like
Luc Besson, schmoozing from table to table, until he approaches ours. I extend
my hand and present myself... he returns with,

"Bonsoir, je suis Yannick Parent. C'est ma place, vous avez aimé?"

"Nous avons beaucoup aimé! Merci."

He was very charming, charismatic and not the least pretentious... considering
he's got another 'Hotspot' on another hip avenue, Grande Allée, reminiscent of
Crescent St. called 'Savini Resto Bar\Vinothèque', where we met him the
following evening. We exchanged cards and he will look me up when he comes
to Montreal, so I can reciprocate.

* From Where I Sit!
June 19, 2015

* Bello Ristorante
73 rue St-Louis,
Vieux-Québec, G1R 3Z2
1-418-694-0030 Yannick Parent