While I was in Bemidji last weekend, I was finally able to go to the new Tutto Bene which had been alluding me for the past year. It was so unexpected and….Good.
I’m not kidding. It was SO GOOD.
And so, as often happens when I find anything I love in Bemidji, I immediately start fearing it’s demise via the hand of God or some bullshit mega chain and begin the process of throwing attention at it to anyone who will listen (Also making the list: Yellow Umbrella, Wild Hare). I nearly made my mom sign a contract stating that this will be the only place we eat when I’m in town.
The space is light and airy, with long white curtains covering windows that stretch to the lofty ceilings. There are happy looking plants and jars of house made wonders scattered throughout. The water glasses are little ball jars and the bar looks pleasantly worn and janky, that is, it looks used, in a old world utilitarian way. The ladies room dark and moody and seems like a fine place to touch up your lipstick (I know it’s weird but I have a thing for restaurant bathrooms. It’s so easy to forget the bathrooms!)
We were seated by our server (who was charming and knowledgeable as all get out and put up with my over enthusiasm/shop talk like a champ) and I proceeded to try to narrow down my lunch options. After a half glass of wine, chosen from a very thoughtful wine list, I told myself sternly that I only needed to order one meal. I settled on an sandwich served on foccacia with fork tender brasato (a sort of italian pot roast generally braised in red wine), a horseradish mascarpone and red onion and arugula. Along side were fennel spiked pickles and a potato salad with capers and just a little heat.
I did that thing where I stopped halfway through with the intent on taking half home but then lost all resolve and ate the rest. To compound the fullness issue, we then ordered desert, a flourless chocolate cake, made to order and served with salted caramel gelato. I am still regretting not trying to buy some of that gelato to take home.
By the way, I have refrained from putting “House-made” in front of everything because I’m sick of that phrase though I love everything it represents. Needless to say they make it all: fresh pasta, gelato, venison sausage, that lovely foccacia. Pickles! So many jars of pickles. You should check out their menu and be as happy about it as I am. (One exception: I hate when restaurants have so-called Kobe beef burgers. The chances of that being Kobe beef are so very slim, and it bugs me that this is a trend. That said, I’m sure the burger is really tasty.)
And so, Tutto Bene, please don’t leave Bemidji. Or, if you do, will you please come to Duluth? C