● By Julieta Hernandez
There’s a lot of ways Bellino’s owner and lead chef, Francesco Inguaggiato, will encourage bringing exciting new tastes and aromas from his hometown in Sicily, Italy to his Texas dinner crowd. But, he will admit that pineapples still don’t belong on pinsa, the ancestor of American-styled pizza.
Trying out an original pinsa recipe is something a hungry on-looker can anticipate if you haven’t tried their completely re-written menu. The re-imagined menu and extensive wine list are only a glance of what you can anticipate at the re-vamped Bellino Ristorante Italiano and its brand new bottega.
That quietly hidden, charming little Italian spot inside the Village Shopping Center had been looking to expand for quite some time now. Thanks to some buona fortuna, they were able to open up their space within the same building; this freed up enough space for a separate dining area altogether, as well as a separate kitchen and an authentic bottega with goods and groceries from Italy. Here, you can find rarities like squid-ink pasta, fresh bottarga, and cheeses on the wheel that are new to our time zone, and our taste buds.
“Thanks to the expansion with the bottega area, I was finally able to add pinsa on the new menu,” Inguaggiato mentioned. “We can start making our own pinsa now that we have a new dry kitchen where we do our production of pasta, desserts, and pinsa.”
Fresh, daily desserts and small meal portions line up nicely in the bottega where curious diners can take them home and impress dinner guests.
The Bellino's team was able to re-create their original kitchen area as well, and make space for more in-house meals...not to mention their always fresh, homemade pasta. What they can’t make to-order, they make from scratch daily.
“I don’t put anything on this menu that I don’t like,” says Inguaggiato. “It’s quality first. Then, it’s trying to respect the tradition of the recipe.”
And when it comes to Bellino’s, good food is actually good food. Ingredients are purchased locally, as organic as possible, and oftentimes, at the same farmer’s market the community shops from on Wednesdays. Inguaggiato puts a deep emphasis on bringing up his own local business through supporting and uplifting other local businesses; which is why he’ll always prefer local vendors to be a part of the dish.
“It’s especially important what we choose to eat, and what to buy; as well as where we choose to eat, and where to buy,” he said. Lucky for us, Inguaggiato is just eager to share his culture with the Coastal Bend dining scene, as well as a wine list selected by his and his team’s palates. But, he will admit to always sticking with an Italian beer and a slice of pinsa when he chooses.
3815 S Alameda St | bellinostexas.com