On a beautiful night, there's Bella Notte.
To be precise, this is Bella Notte North, the big-hearted offspring of what's now called Bella Notte South in Bellmore. The two are dependable, relaxed restaurants for Italian-American favorites.
And, for devotees of Disney's "Lady and the Tramp," for whom the song "Bella Notte" was immortalized at Tony's Restaurant, these local eateries also have very good spaghetti and meatballs.
This address has had so many restaurants over the years that you'd think the site is haunted. Some stick around in memory, among them Nel Blu and Luna Rossa.
But Bella Notte North improves on its predecessors, streamlining the dining room, offering unpretentious and accommodating service, and, most important, having a pretty good idea about what you'd like to eat.
Under the listing for pasta, you'll find zucchini Bolognese, wherein striplets of squash are substituted for tagliatelle or another long pasta and become a surprisingly fine alternative. At minimum, order it to share. Wintry appetites should pick the full-flavored lasagna, layered with meat. The competition comes from linguine with olive oil and garlic or with white clam sauce, penne Angelina with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken, and almost any pasta with those meatballs. Before diving into the farinaceous, you can enjoy the peppery bite of fried calamari arrabbiata and the tender baked clams oreganata. Bella Notte sends out a generous stuffed artichoke, too.
The namesake main dish is a variation on chicken campagnola, fortified with sausages, potatoes, peppers, onions and, in a move that must be to make it all seem very healthful, broccoli. Chicken Siciliano is a tasty rival, with layers of eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella. Purists may decide to stick with the satisfying eggplant alla Parmigiana, which has the same supporting cast as the chicken a la Bella Notte. Dessert: Italian cheesecake, cannoli, tiramisu.
Bland stuffed mushrooms; likewise, the fish of the day, either oreganata or alla Livornese; standard salads; routine shrimp cocktail; overcooked shrimp scampi-style and broiled veal chop.
THE BOTTOM LINE