Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant (2002)

Vita Bella

Granted, dishes like the shrimp Mona Lisa, a plethora of jumbo crustaceans sautéed with wine and mushrooms and dressed with a creamy pink sauce, can run you -- gasp! -- up to $15. But that's about the limit, and if you consider that the salad, garlic rolls, and pasta all come with it, you've got yourself a full-course meal for less than the cost of a tank of gas. But the beauty of the place, besides its clean-line décor and refreshingly polite service, is that not only do most pasta dishes hover around $8 and a large Sicilian pizza (16 inches) goes for just a dozen bucks but that the ziti with broccoli sauce and baked stuffed shells is actually savory and generously portioned. A good selection of starters (hey, who can argue with homemade fried mozzarella?) and a kids menu offering manicotti seal the deal. Unless you're in the mood for dessert, whereupon it's the cannoli that quickly clinches.


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