Bettola’s story is very unique. Giga Leszay, the long-time manager, was in need of a chef. Chef Vlado Kolenic, the rockstar that left Czechoslavakia for the US in 1979, discovered a love for global cuisine while touring around the world with his band TAKTICI. Giga and Vlado met on a ski trip when one of Giga’s friends recognized Vlado from the band. The two became friends and took ownership of Bettola in May 2016.
Vlado incorporates the influences and techniques he cultivated on his travels as a musician to create the progressive dishes at Bettola.
Vlado’s love of music and food comes together on Sundays with a Beatles Brunch, during which music by The Beatles plays, and dishes are named after band members and songs. Bettola also offers a late-night happy hour, nightly, from 10 p.m.-11 p.m. Occasionally there is even live music by Chef Vlado himself at the piano. And starting soon, you can experience their movie nights, where pizza is just $10 and drinks are just $5, and you get to watch a movie for free on their TV.
It’s a really fun joint. The restaurant features a beautiful and rustic wood-burning oven that’s used for signature pizzas and some special dishes. The interior is cozy yet spacious, with a majority of seating being four-tops.
We sat down to enjoy our meal with two glasses of wine; a Malbec and a Montepulciano. Bettola has a sommelier who comes in twice per week, so the selection is curated by a professional.
We tried two apps. First was the oven roasted eggplant Napoleon.
The cheese blistered up to a nice crisp in that gorgeous wood oven, and the tomatoes shriveled to a soft and juicy compliment. The best bits of the eggplant were the slices that had developed a really great char in the oven.
The meatballs were very tasty.
The sauce really popped here, and with a portion size of three you can almost just grab a salad first and get this as an entree.
Just ask for extra bread for sopping up that yummy sauce.
I was intrigued by the Fantastico entree. It’s sliced filet mignon, cooked with 17 spices, and served on a bed of fettuccine and mushrooms.
All pastas are made in house, and that fettuccine was the star of the show in this dish.
I’d definitely try some other pasta dishes here. In fact, there are daily specials that constantly change, so you can try something new and unique every time you dine.
Where Chef Vlado really shines, though, is when he is messing around with your taste buds. His global travels have exposed him to lots of interesting flavors and dishes, and he’s used that experience to develop a host of his own recipes. I suppose you can call a dish like Shrimp Prosecco an “Italian Fusion.”
With elements of middle eastern and Thai cuisine, this dish really pops. There’s a coconut milk and Prosecco base in the sauce that almost acts like a curry, and the Israeli cous cous is mixed with zucchini and carrots. The cook on the butterflied shrimp was perfect as well; so tender and flavorful.
For dessert, we had a bread pudding that happened to be made with focaccia bread! But that’s not where the fun ended. It was topped with sliced green apple, garnished with sliced dates, and dressed with a whisky cream sauce. Really unique.
Note: I was invited to dine as a guest of this establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review; all opinions expressed are my own.
412 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024