2711 East Madison Street
Seattle WA 98112
Small Local Bakery Serves Up Big Tasty Treats
By: Grant Y
Nestled into the junction a block North of where MLK meets Madison, you'll find the quaint little European-style bakery and deli of Bella Dolce. Translated into Italian as literally Beautiful Sweets, you'll begin to understand why it is so named as you peek into the windows. Inside, you'll find a display case full of tempting sweets that include fist sized red velvet cupcakes, warm chocolate walnut cookies, sugar powdered lemon bars, plump bread pudding, decadent German chocolate cakes and even homemade granola and yogurt cups.
With a natural sweet tooth, I staved off the initial urge to order a slice of the German chocolate cake, when I realized my plans were already foiled as the cakes were only sold whole to begin with. Sweets before eating is always a bad thing anyway, so we looked over the lunch menu, which consisted of various sandwiches and a curry lentil soup of the day.
Steve honed in on a homemade cracked wheat turkey sandwich while Robin eyed the portabella mushroom sandwich, only to be informed that the shop was currently out of the items. This left only a small handful of choices to choose from, which had Steve going with the flank steak sandwich ($6.95) and Robin going for the egg sandwich ($6.95). I went ahead with the tuna sandwich($6.95).
Sitting down, I get the impression that even though Bella Dolce has a mere three tables, it serves a fair number of lunch diners. We saw two sets of mothers and daughters walk in for a meal while two other couples walked in on our way out. I assume the restaurant does most of its business with the bakery and coffee side of things, but there were three cooks in the back constantly working, which made me believe that Bella Dolce also has a robust catering business.
Madison is home to many small shops and eateries with a certain style. Bella Dolce is no different, as it will appeal to any culture enthusiasts who enjoy a European styled deli, with its quaint seating and intimate atmosphere. The interior is bright, with large windows facing out toward Madison Street and cream custard colored walls, Bella Dolce is likely never gloomy from the inside. A few pieces of artwork hang from the sides, while an antique cupboard holds some plates in the corner, but otherwise there's not much to distract from the baked goods or conversation while enjoying a treat.
My tuna sandwich was made with artichokes, kalamata olives, capers, red onions and lettuce on a herb baguette. Each of these ingredients has a strong flavor, which made for an overall flavor that stood out with a zing. Even the tuna had a salty taste that livened it up past the regular bland canned tuna. Perhaps the only drawback was that the baguette was not as soft as I had hoped, being a bakery, and that the amount of sandwich filling was rather sparse. To Bella Dolces defense, the tuna sandwich may be too intense for some if piled high, but I would have certainly enjoyed more.
I also ordered a red velvet cupcake, which was wonderfully soft and delicious. The frosting was cool and lightly whipped while the cake was just the right amount of sweet. Highly recommended.
We got directed to this place by a local, which was fine for me as I thought we might end up picking a second-rate again as our first option to eat was not opening until 5pm. I was a little disappointed that they ran out of turkey for the day as I was really looking for to trying it out, but the alternative wasn't too shabby either. The flank steak sandwich came served with very tender chunks of steak topped with its favorite partner in crime: provolone cheese. It was topped with a homemade chipotle sauce that was smoky and smooth. Coupled with a cup of their daily soup, the flank steak sandwich is a cant-miss that I recommend to everyone.
For desserts, Bella Dolce offers a wide variety of delectable cakes and cookies. The chocolate chip walnut was exactly what a good cookie should be: Warm soft in the center with a huge chocolate chips and walnuts directly mixed into the batter.
Like Grant stated, this place is small, but based on the vibe I get from the other customers coming through the door, Bella Dolce seems to get a lot of support from the local neighborhood. While the space inside of Bella Dolce looked pretty small, it makes up for its size with a mastery of desserts and pastries.
It was interesting to see the variety of offerings herein addition to the sandwiches there were salads, frittata, various pastries and sweets, and even entire cakes. A sandwich board outside advertised wedding cakes. Despite the small locale, they offer a selection of lunch options comparable to the much larger Essential Baking down the street.
I ordered the Egg Salad sandwich, which was served on fresh brown bread with fresh greens and had a small amount of raw red onion mixed in. Oddly, I found the sandwich to be a little on the bland side, with only the raw onions standing out.
Both the frittata and bread pudding seemed freshly made, but having them served chilled muted the flavors quite a bit. Perhaps a lower volume of sales means dishes have to get refrigerated to preserve quality? In any case, between the chilled food and the lack of dining space, I would suggest getting items to go instead of eating in. Enjoy these fresh. fine-quality delights warmed up at home or at the office!