at Rosen's Shingle Creek: Italian for the Upper Crust
I recently reviewed Cala Bella for Orlando Style magazine. Here's the review:
It’s been a little over two years since Harris Rosen opened the jewel in his pantheon of hotels, Rosen Shingle Creek. In that time, the elegant Italian restaurant Cala Bella has become a bit more refined and the food a bit more certain.
It’s still shockingly expensive.
When I dined there in 2006 I was stunned by the $40 price tag on the seafood pescatore. It’s now $46 – and there are still no flecks of gold in the broth. Well, if you don’t count the saffron that seasons the fish stock tinged with tomato. And, in truth, there was a lot more seafood in the soup this time, headlined by an Australian lobster tail, two impressively plump scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels. Under it all was a nest of fresh pappardelle pasta.
The al dente ribbons were part of my companion’s entrée of pappardelle ai bistecche, which was listed under the menu’s pasta heading, though in truth this was a steak dish. It featured 10 ounces of New York strip from Harris Ranch, cooked to a perfect medium-rare and sliced, the noodles piled on top with a sauce of mushrooms and tomato ragout. Quite nice.
We had started our meal with the mozzarella stuffed Bella meatballs, three bocce ball-sized orbs of moist ground meat braised in Barolo wine. The meatballs were more enjoyable than the calamari fritte, which was a little too damp.
The highlight of the dessert menu is the deconstructed tiramisu, which takes the various elements of the omnipresent dolce -- chocolate, mascarpone, lady fingers – and presents them stacked instead of blended. I first found it odd, but its uniqueness has grown on me. The chocolate sabayon, with dollops of white chocolate garnished with diced strawberries, was also good. (Mention you’re a local, I’m told, and dessert is on the house.)
Service was exceptional. Menu knowledge was impressive, and the meal moved with a leisurely pace.
The dining space is cavernous, but has been softened a bit with swaths of burgundy draperies that now frames the high archways.
This is still one for the expense account crowd, but the quality is more consistent and closer to matching the prices.