Bellini's cheesecakeBellini’s divine dinner offerings include popular chef features.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Bellini’s Ristorante has satisfied foodie appetites in Hoover since 2008. Located at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road off Highway 280, Bellini’s is open for lunch and dinner on Monday through Saturday.

The Place bellini's cocktails
Bellini’s has an outdoor patio, bar and two dining rooms. Entering through the separate Bar at Bellini’s, warm tones of Tuscany and exposed brick provide a welcoming, first impression. Also inside the bar space, there is a curtained alcove space to the right with arched entrances for semi private dining. Inside the main dining room, where we are seated tonight, the exposed brick continues with wine stored in the wall along with Reidel wine glasses. Drapes hanging from the ceiling here separate the space into smaller ones. And a second dining room is located down the hall. In addition to serving lunch and dinner in the restaurant, Bellini’s also provides catering. Catering By Bellini’s has its own location at 5511 Highway 280, which houses a cafe open for lunch on weekdays and provides healthy meals delivered to homes or businesses.  These meals are scratch made with a focus on low calorie, paleo and gluten free.

The People
Owners Doug and Niki Hovanec conceived the concept of Bellini’s Ristorante over a bottle of wine in 2008. The Hovanecs are also planning a new chef driven concept, Revolve Kitchen and Brew opening soon in Doug Baker Shopping Center, below the Melting Pot. Ryan Zargo is executive chef at Bellini’s.

Favorite Farebellini's duck stew
Having reviewed local restaurants including their cocktails for more than ten years, I know where the cocktails are special and where they are ordinary. I have never had a cocktail at Bellini’s that was not memorable. And tonight is no exception. The Charred Grapefruit Gin and Tonic arrives in a low ball, on the rocks, is golden in color and is garnished with a plump slice of ripe, red grapefruit. On first sip, there is a hint of char, which adds a smoldering complexity to this tart and tasty cocktail.

bellini's steakI receive Bellini’s e-newsletter, which pictures and describes the weekly chef features. So I already know what they are before the server describes them. But tonight in addition to the weekly features, chef has whipped up some special dishes for this evening, which he describes and recommends to us. .

Our first course is Duck Stew. It arrives laced with carrots poached in a brown butter caramel. Digging in we also find it chock full of pulled duck, first of the season pea tendrils, and cauliflower. This earthy stew with its remarkable flavor profile is one of the best duck dishes I have ever tasted. Our next course is small on size and big on flavor. A beautiful Brussels sprout is seared to perfection and served with lemon hoison, olive oil and aged balsamic. Next is a meal in itself, Boursin Cheesecake, which rests atop lamb sausage covered in spicy tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. And it is crowned with a lovely leaf red veined sorrel for a touch of acidity. Chef also sends us a lovely intermezzo (palate cleansers) between courses.

For entrees this week’s chef features bellini's tiramasu include two dishes that we did not order, but bellini's snapperwould love to catch if offered again—Seared scallops with poached ricotta gnocchi and oven baked squash and a Seven layer white lasagna with spinach, artichokes, goat cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. And we made a great choice with our order of the Wood Grilled Filet of Tenderloin feature. The tender and juicy steak was hand cut in house and comes cooked rare and thinly sliced, over a comforting bed of roasted fingerling potatoes in a creamy Mornay sauce, finished with veal demi-glace.  And for our other entrée we include one dish on the regular menu. A golden piece of Gulf Snapper arrives floating atop fire roasted asparagus and Reggiano risotto. The creamy rice makes a hearty accompaniment for the delicate, succulent fish.

And for dessert we pair a creamy, chocolaty Tiramisu with a divine Godiva Martini. 

Published by B-Metro magazine, March 2016

Categories: Casually Upscale, Reviews
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