Sunday, January 28, 2007

Restaurant Review - Saucy Bella, 1700 West Sand Lake Road, Florida Mall area, Orlando, FL

Update 7/30/07 - Sorry to report that Saucy Bella has been confirmed as closed. Apparently, they were not getting enough traffic to keep going. Very sad - I will miss the tickled pink sauce.

A co-worker suggested I try Saucy Bella in the Cost Plus/World Market shopping center across the street from the Florida Mall. She said the pasta with vodka sauce was incredible and that there were other folks there with kids so it should be a kid-friendly place. So, on a recent Saturday, the boys, Grandma M., and I arrived at Saucy Bella for lunch. Saucy Bella is a fast-casual restaurant which means you go to the counter to order and then sit down and the food is delivered to your table. The decor is very different than I thought it would be with stainless steel tables and kitschy '50's style designs and colors. They have a large menu so we sat down first before ordering so we would have time to look it over. Nothing on the menu was expensive with prices ranging from $6 - $10. The menu was broken out by Saucy Starters (soups and appetizers), Salads (you can order a half salad of each offering, for about half the price - nice!), Saucy Pizza (with interesting sauce choices - not just red sauce), Saucy Sandwiches, and then Pastas. The Pastas are basically "make-your-own". For a $7.95 base price, you first choose a pasta (cavatelli, penne, angel hair, rigatoni, fettuccine or multi-grain penne) and then you choose a sauce. The sauce choices are really outstanding. There are your standard sauces such as Bolognese (meat sauce), Pomodoro (regular red sauce), and Alfredo (white cream sauce), but then they had several more intriguing choices in Vodka sauce (cream sauce with garlic, vodka, and sun-dried tomatoes giving it a characteristic pink color), Basil Cream (wild mushrooms, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and cream), and Checca (chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil). The Vodka sauce appears to be Saucy Bella's signature sauce and it shows up in several "Tickled Pink" menu items including a Tickled Pink Chicken pizza and a Tickled Pink Chicken sandwich. The kid's menu looked pretty standard with choices of macaroni & cheese, chicken strips, pizza, spaghetti & meatballs, and grilled cheese for $3.95, which includes a drink and a cookie.

We finally made our decision so I went up to order. Grandma M. decided to get the "Pick Two" special where you can choose two of the following - cup of soup, 1/2 pasta, 1/2 sandwich, or 1/2 salad - for $6.95. She choose the half chopped salad and the half Italian Job sandwich (your basic Italian cold cuts). BB wanted the pizza and LB wanted the spaghetti & meatballs. I ordered the penne pasta but I was torn between the Vodka sauce and the Basil Cream - both sounded very good. The server said she could get me a plain bowl of the penne and then separate bowls of the two sauces - a very nice idea that I took her up on. I then went back to the table to wait for the food and to ask what everyone wanted to drink before I filled up the cups at the soda dispenser. BB immediately asked if they had crayons and something he could write on. Hmm, I didn't know so I went back to the order counter and saw that they did have coloring sheets and a big bucket of crayons (nice ones, too, Crayola, and some with glitter) so I grabbed a couple of sheets and a handful of crayons and came back to the table. The boys were very happy.

About 10 minutes later the boys' meals arrived... and they was HUGE! I figured BB's pizza could have fed all of us and LB's spaghetti & meatballs was enough for a very hungry adult with two enormous meatballs on top of a big mound of angel hair pasta. I knew right then we'd be taking home leftovers. I couldn't believe that each kid meal plus a drink plus a cookie was only $3.95. A few minutes later, our meals arrived. Grandma M.'s was big as well with a large half sandwich on ciabatta bread and a nice size salad on the side. I received a large bowl of penne, the two bowls of sauce, and then a nice piece of bread on the side to dunk with. The vodka sauce looked as I expected but the basil cream was much more pink - I had expected it to be more green from the basil. I poured some of the basil cream on one part of my pasta and some of the vodka sauce on the other. The basil cream was very nice and had lots of pieces of mushrooms... but it just couldn't compare to the delicious vodka sauce. I ended up pouring the rest of the vodka sauce on my pasta and finished the whole thing. Grandma M. also ate all of hers and declared it delicious as well. LB had given up on the meatballs and was now eating part of BB's pizza. We all ended up having a slice of the pizza and actually finished it between the four of us, so I just brought home the leftover spaghetti & meatballs. Next time, I'll just order the kids' pizza and have the kids split it. On our way out, we stopped by the counter to get the boys' chocolate chip cookies (also large). Saucy Bella is definitely a place you can get a lot of good food for a little money. They also have Kids Nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after 5 pm where kids eat free with every adult entree purchased.

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