Taste of the city: Casa Bella offers beautiful and comfortable Italian cuisine | Culinary news


Casa Bella means beautiful house. It is aptly named. For those who come to dinner regularly, this is a beloved retreat. The location is downtown, but far enough from the hustle and bustle of Laurens and Newberry streets to feel like a peaceful enclave. The large brick wall that surrounds it also ensures a feeling of seclusion.

The Iannelli family, who created Casa Bella in 2007, have made their several comfortable dining rooms and outdoor garden tables a romantic and gentle setting. It’s a good place for a first date, idyllic and welcoming – expensive, but not insanely.

The kitchen is comfortable in the Italian style. Every list on the menu is something you’ve seen before, although off-menu evening items may be far off. A few such specialties were sea bass with puttanesca sauce, cannoli toast for Mother’s Day, and tiramisu pancakes for dessert. Whatever you choose to eat, rest assured that nothing at Casa Bella will shock or disturb your taste buds. In this place, straightforward honesty trumps culinary dazzling.

All dinners begin with a basket of warm, crispy slices of bread. With bread comes a bowl of roasted garlic cloves basking in a puddle of olive oil. They’re tender enough to crush into bread and spread as easily as butter. The roasting tempered their garlic bite considerably. I only wish they were hot like bread.

A homemade soup or salad accompanies dinner. Make the salad memorable by opting for a Caprese salad enriched with mozzarella. For a hearty appetizer, order button mushrooms stuffed with sausage and draped in melted cheese.






Casa Bella mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are one of the hearty appetizers on the menu.



The printed menu is now a page with a dozen entries. It was longer; and sadly, the current one omits what was once a splendid signature dish – boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast marinated in rosemary, garlic and olive oil. You can ask for a facsimile of the much loved breast, but without the garlic-rosemary marinade it lacks the magic. Still, it’s hard not to love the tender white meat they provide, with its crisp flavor of fresh poultry and lovely grill marks under a crowd of minced garlic on top.

Regular menu items fully satisfy a craving for favorites from Italian-American restaurants. Here you’ll find veal and chicken in such familiar incarnations as parmigiana, piccata, and marsala. Creamy fettuccine alfredo can be garnished with chicken, shrimp or crab. The prawn langoustines on linguine with a lemon and white wine sauce are a garlic triumph.

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Of course, there are spaghetti and meatballs. It’s a delicious comfort food with no surprises. You can’t go wrong ordering anything with Casa Bella’s Sweet Tomato Marinara Sauce. And rest assured that high quality pasta is always perfectly al dente.






Casa Bella penne alla vodka

Penne alla vodka is one of the main dishes on the main menu at Casa Bella.



Casa Bella is a great place to eat pasta with vodka, the disco-era dish that has become an American staple. The gravy noodles which are a mouth-watering blend of Alfredo and Marinara with a hint of chili keep you eating even when the appetite is just a memory. Like any good thing that comes out of this kitchen, it’s prepared with enough confidence that it doesn’t have to show off.

Casa Bella: 120 Chesterfield St. S. Aiken. 803-641-3107.


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