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Romance and Italian Comfort Food at Bella Gioia in Brooklyn

To me, Valentine's Day is an over-hyped holiday. So I'm usually happy to spend it at home with my husband and a bowl full of his pasta and homemade sauce. This year, however, we took a walk on the wild side and dined out the day after V-Day and savored scrumptious Sicilian comfort food at Bella Gioia in Brooklyn.  


Located on the edge of Park Slope and Gowanus, Bella Gioia is a blink and you might miss it hidden gem. But inside the cozy, 62-seat eatery with vaulted ceilings and a rustic wine cellar charm, owner and executive chef Nick "Nico" Daniele is serving Italian cuisine that can rival any hotspot in Manhattan.  

The millennial chef hails from Staten Island, his family has roots in the Sicilian seaside town of Cefalu (there's a map framed on the wall) and he even honed his culinary chops in Parma, Italy.  And with the creativity represented in his menu, it's not surprising Daniele was a contestant on the Food Network's Chopped.

For our post-Valentine's Day meal, we were treated by Gail PR to a three-course feast that began with a yummy arancini (rice balls) appetizer served with several dipping sauces including garlic puree and a balsamic reduction, and a festive watercress salad with strawberries, citrus and a drizzle of chocolate vinaigretteThe second-course consisted of fresh pappardelle topped with a juicy lobster tail and a dark chocolate-infused marinara, and the crowd-pleasing baked gnocchi rustica with tomato sauce, mozzarellaparmigiano cheese and bread crumbs. By taking some of the pasta to-go, we saved room for dessert -- a melt-in-your-mouth Mela green apple and limoncello mousse and cinnamon crumble. 

So if you're looking for delicious Italian fare and a casual date night done right, look no further than Bella Gioia.  It's the Brooklyn way.

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