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December 24, 2014


With Christmas just around the corner, I decided to throw a small dinner party for my closest friends before everyone heads home for the holidays. Knowing my apartment was too small and that I can’t cook for one, let alone ten, I made a reservation at La Bella Vita (The Good Life) in scenic Little Italy.


For some reason, Little Italy always feels like Christmas to me (probably because their flag colors are red and green). I knew it was the perfect spot to have a fun group dinner, full of friends, fun, and wine.


I had never been to La Bella Vita, but the pictures on their website gave off a somewhat modern look, differing from the surrounding restaurants that haven’t changed their décor since the fifties. So I chose it. Plus, it was the only place that could take a reservation.


I just have to say: I love dinner parties. I would rather go to dinner with friends, be able to catch up over some great food and wine, and be in bed by 11 than go out and getting wasted. (Ah, is this 28?) 


When I first entered La Bella Vita, I was greeted by an older Italian man who said, “You must be James!” For the second time in my life, I felt like a celebrity. (The first time was when the guy at Dunkin Donuts would have my order ready before I got to the counter).


While we waited for all the guests to arrive, we ordered a few bottles of Pinot Noir and snacked on bread and olive oil. Once everyone was there, we took no time to waste in ordering some appetizers for the table. We had Bruschetta, Eggplant Rollatini, Calamari, and a Mozzarella Caprese salad. What seemed like a lot of food was consumed in less than ten minutes. We were hungry! 

Fried Calamari 

Eggplant Rollatini 

My favorite dish from the round of appetizers was definitely the Eggplant Rollatini; fried eggplant filled with ricotta cheese and marinara sauce, all rolled up and topped with mozzarella cheese. It was insanely delicious. The Calamari was also fantastic. Fried pieces of squid, served with a spicy marinara sauce and a few lemon wedges. Some of the best calamari I’ve ever had.


For my entrée, I went with the Spaghetti Carbonora, a favorite Italian dish of mine that I don’t eat too often due to my lactose intolerance (less on that later). I tried to make sure everyone at the table ordered something different, so I could try a little bit of everything. Yes, while my friends thought this dinner was to get together and enjoy each other’s company, I was using it as a blog post.


Some other items at the table were Penne a la Vodka, Pappardelle Bolognese, grilled Salmon with risotto and cheese ravioli. I was lucky enough to try a little bit of everyone’s dish, but thought my Carbonara was the best. The sauce was so creamy and the bacon added that smoky flavor to a could-be bland pasta dish. 

Spaghetti Carbonara


Pappardelle Bolognese

There is a quote I saw recently that said, “Food always tastes better when you eat it with your friends” and I could not agree more. This dinner party was such a fantastic night shared with some of my favorite people in New York. I am glad that we all had this chance to forget about work and the stress of Christmas, and just spend a few hours together, laughing, drinking, and eating. 

As the year comes to an end, there are a few things I know for sure: I have the greatest friends, red wine makes me drunk, and I most certainly do have the good life. 

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