White columns frame the red-tiled awning of Bellissimo Ristorante, a slice of Tuscan villa welcoming guests to a restaurant full of Sicilian and Neapolitan art and cuisine. The patio features classic statuary and a burbling stone fountain, while the interiors boasts rich wooden tables and chairs atop a terracotta tile floor. The flavor of authenticity extends beyond the d?cor to the menu, which features filet mignon douses with gorgonzola cheese and topped with lumps of crabmeat and thin curst Italian-style pizzas cooked in real brick ovens.
In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.