January 23, 2013

date night (hold the blood)

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

Bella Italia, 118 E. First St., in Port Angeles, Wash., was the site of Edward
Cullen and Bella Swan's first date in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight.

Bella Swan is already interested and intrigued in Edward Cullen when he saves her from a pack of hoodlums in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. After the rescue, Bella and Edward go on their first unofficial date at an Italian restaurant in Port Angeles, Wash.

Fans can recreate the moment and try Bella's meal at Bella Italia. Located at 118 E. First St, Bella Italia is located two blocks north of the coast in the heart of downtown Port Angeles. Street parking is free with advised time restrictions, and the restaurant is conveniently located to other sites of interest to Twi-Hards.

According to its website, Bella Italia was established in 1996 to provide Italian fare with an Olympic Peninsula twist. It is opened daily for dinner at 4 p.m., which means you should schedule your time in Port Angeles for late afternoon or early evening.

Menu items include traditional Italian items, such as minestrone soup, pizza and pasta. With its close proximity to the ocean and a list of local producers, the menu also features more unique items, such as crab cakes, mussels and clams. Take a look at the full menu here.

Twilight enthusiasts will want to try Bella's Mushroom Ravioli (TM) and a Coke to duplicate Miss Swan's meal. I ordered it myself, only I subbed a Diet Coke. (Shh... don't tell.) I attempted to recreate a version of this dish for Reading in the Kitchen last fall, so I was particularly interested to see what this dish was in real life. Read about my creation here.

Different than my version and expectation, the original is served in a white sauce, topped with sliced mushrooms. The ravioli itself has minced mushroom inside, and it is heavily spiced. Despite a few of my ravioli pieces being a little tough around the edges, likely from baking in the oven, this dish was delicious. It makes me want to make another version that better compares, or to schedule another trip to the area immediately.

Bella's Mushroom Ravioli (TM)

Priced at $17, the portion was generous and filling, especially with the bread and oil provided to accompany the meal. According to a sign in the restaurant, a portion of the sales goes to support education in nearby Forks and La Push, which were also popularized by Meyer's novels.

If you would like to try the dish for yourself, but do not foresee traveling to Port Angeles in the near future, the restaurant sells Bella's Mushroom Ravioli (TM) online. You can order it here. The shipped 20-ounce dish serves two and costs $21.98 plus shipping.

Aside from the food, the restaurant's ambiance was warm and inviting, which seemed perfect for a first date -- even if the couple is boring and mortal. The service was helpful and efficient, and my water glass was never empty.

Decorated in a manner fitting an Italian restaurant, my favorite touch was the salt and pepper set on my table. The colors suited the Olympic Peninsula well, and I would like to find a matching pair for my kitchen.

Twi-hards will also appreciate the tidbits of Twilight information available. On a table near the bar, patrons can read about the famed ravioli. A window display outside highlights the full menu and a brief story about the author's visit to the restaurant.

If driving to Forks and La Push on your Twilight journeys, stopping here is a must. You will also be close to the bookstores Bella may have visited to find the book about local legends. More importantly, the town itself is adorable. I was smitten with the artistic vibe and coastal scenery, and I would gladly visit again to enjoy the area.

Related Links:
Bella Italia Restaurant
City of Port Angeles
Olympic Peninsula
Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce

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