italian

It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting,The outside is unassuming: a little Italian restaurant in a strip mall off the Bothell-Everett Highway. Inside, though, is a lovely place for dinner with a friendly staff and food bursting with flavor.

I have probably driven by Villa Nuova dozens of times without taking any notice. Recently, though, I was looking for a spot to have dinner while my mother was visiting. I let her hunt online for local restaurants, and Villa Nuova was the first name she mentioned. Italian sounded great to me, so my mother, my husband and I paid them a visit for dinner. The restaurant is a cozy spot with crisp white tablecloths. Our server brought out tiny loaves of bread in a basket, served with olive oil for dipping. The olive oil was fabulous, especially with the seasoning of garlic and red pepper and something else delicious. I asked the server what was in it, but he simply smiled and told me it was a house recipe. Fair enough. I think I'd be willing to come back just for the olive oil.

My husband and mother both ordered wine. (I'm nine months pregnant, so I stuck with water.) Villa Nuova has a selection of wine for $5. The pours are generous. My husband was especially fond of the Montepulciano he ordered. Feeling hungry, and not able to decide on an appetizer, we ordered two. The Cozze and Vongole ($10.95) featured mussels and clams in a buttery white wine sauce with garlic and lemon. The mussels and clams were perfectly cooked and fresh. The sauce was a pleasing complement without overpowering the flavor of the shellfish. We also ordered Caprese ($10.95), with the familiar fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinaigrette. This was also delicious, and with three of us eating it, it vanished fast. I particularly enjoyed the balsamic vinegar, which was thick and slightly sweet, perfect for the Caprese.

Selecting an entree was a challenge; the menu offers many appetizing options. I eventually settled on the Linguini Mare ($17.95), because seafood sounded appealing.The linguini was served with mussels, clams, calamari and prawns. You can select a white or red sauce; I chose a white. The seafood was all tasty and fresh, again, and went nicely with the simple white wine sauce. My mom settled on the Gnocchi de Patate ($12.95), which is potato dumplings with Italian sausage, garlic, mozzarella and basil in a tomato sauce. The gnocchi were hearty and rich. The red sauce was thick with cheese, and the sausage was full of spicy flavor.

My husband order cannelloni ($12.95). The pasta was stuffed with veal and covered in a bolognese sauce, with includes beef and pork in tomato sauce covered with mozzarella. Again, the sauce was amazing. The cannelloni was bursting with flavor. My husband really enjoyed the meaty sauce and filling. After all that, we barely had room for dessert. We made some space, though, for the Tartufo ($6.95). The menu described it as a “chocolate truffle for the true chocolate lover.”

We all qualify as chocolate lovers, so it was an easy selection. The Tartufo was a perfect finish to the meal. The two layers of ice cream were covered with a rich chocolate powder with just a bit of sweet crunch.

Villa Nuova earns my hearty recommendation. The food was great and the service was professional and friendly. The food, for the quality, was worth the price.

Don't let the unassuming cover fool you; Villa Nuova is certainly worth discovering for yourself.