We’re living in a fast-food era. Even if you’re not lining up at McDonald’s or Wendy’s seven days a week, chances are most of your meals are eaten on the go — coffee for breakfast, a bag of chips and a Twix for lunch, a microwaved entrée for dinner. We forget how important it is to slow down, to sit and have a nice, relaxed meal in an environment where you don’t feel rushed, where your waitress doesn’t drop the check as soon as you take your first bite. Caffe Bella Vita, a little Italian café in Beacon Hill, is just the place.
The almost-floor-to-ceiling windows dominate the space, creating a bright and airy atmosphere, but the berry-colored walls, white Christmas lights, and classical music add a cozier feel. The menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastas. The best deal is the soup-and-sandwich combo ($7.95). With at least five homemade soups and more than 10 sandwich options, there are quite a few combinations. The delicious lentil soup — soft, rich lentils mixed with big chunks of carrots and potatoes — goes perfectly with the mozzarella sandwich, a simple bite of fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil, served warm on toasted French bread. Another good choice is the clam chowder. Light and creamy, it complements the smoked-turkey sandwich, a classic staple featuring thinly sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
For something a bit more unique, the tuna-and-potato salad ($8.95) is a must-try. It starts as a standard green salad, then is topped off with a mix of red-bliss potatoes and tuna marinated in a blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard.
Bella Vita is the ultimate late-afternoon lunch spot, where you can escape the cold with a cup of hot soup and a good book. After your meal, take your time. Have a shot of espresso ($1.75) with an almond biscotto ($1.90) or some mocha-chip gelato ($3.50), all while musing on the restaurant’s motto: "Home of the Sweet Moment."
Caffe Bella Vita, located at 30 Charles Street, in Boston, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 720-4505.