Bella Italia restaurant, Port Angeles, Washington

Bella Italia Restaurant, Port Angeles, WA

July First. I was on my way to visit a Timber Museum in a small logging town located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Fifty-six miles from my destination, I had a sudden, inexplicable craving for mushroom ravioli. As luck would have it, there was a nice little Italian restaurant right there off Highway 101 in downtown Port Angeles.

By sheer random coincidence 😈 , I parked in front of the Bella Italia restaurant at 4:02 p.m., two minutes after it opened for the evening. My party of one was their second table they seated that evening. A family of five had managed to arrive before me.

I was thrilled to overhear the family’s three adolescent daughters all ordering the mushroom ravioli. I figured, “Wow, this place must have really good mushroom ravioli.”  When the waitress bought my Ensalada Mista and iced tea, she said “Yes, our mushroom ravioli is excellent.” I took a brief walk outside and there was a poster board in the front window explaining about how some author had dined there a few years ago. The author liked the mushroom ravioli so much, she wrote it into a scene in her book where two young lovers go on their first date. After reading this, I was really impressed. With an unpaid endorsement like that, I figured this place must have the best mushroom ravioli in the world.

At last, the plate arrived, and I feasted on the wonderful dish. I can’t really say if it’s the best mushroom ravioli in the world, but it was without doubt the best I’ve ever had. The mushroom flavor was strong without being overwhelming (a hard balance to pull off!), the pasta had a subtle wheat flavor without being “wheat pasta”, and the besclamella (Italian white sauce) perfectly complimented these two flavors, without overpowering them.

I was so impressed with the main course,  I ordered a mixed berry crisp dessert, purely on impulse. Made from local berries, right at the peak of Washington’s berry season. The ice cream was a bit plain vanilla, but the berries were outstanding.

It’s a treat when you travel from afar, and find something that was worth the hype. Really, we all know why so many people go to the Bella Italia and order mushroom ravioli, but I’m glad to report they won’t be disappointed.

Right now, I’m kicking myself for not having taken pictures inside the Forks Timber Museum. I’ll go so far as to say the Timber Museum is the first place you should visit if you happen to be in Forks. 😀

Hamburger Mary’s, Denver, CO

It’s only fitting that my first restaurant review has a tie-in with my novel.
Hamburger Mary’s in Denver is the real-life inspiration for the burger restaurant owned and operated my older gay male Vampire couple, Les and Lou. (Yes, my Vampires can live off of normal food indefinitely, provided the diet regularly includes some form of meat).

Since Les enjoys performing as a Vampira-styled drag queen on the stage of his own restaurant, it’s very important that their restaurant’s real-life proxy also features its own regular performances by drag queens (scroll down the link’s page to view the article). The ambiance is strongly LGBT-flavored, right down to the Lettuce-Guacamole-Bacon-Tomato sandwich on Page Three of their menu.

Tempting as that item is, the name of the place is Hamburger Mary’s, so how could you eat anything else besides a burger, really? You can substitute veggie or buffalo patties on any of the burgers, making Mary’s “veggie/health” friendly as well.

My choice was the Big Wahine. This half-pound patty, six-inch-wide, four-inch-high monster really did need the steak knife stabbed through the middle (as shown in the winking Mary logo) to hold it together.

Not the cheapest, but serious burger ecstasy never is. This badboy was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Well worth the ten and a half bucks. The accompanying fries are a high-end version of the “classic fry”, worthy of being paired with this first-class monster burger.

I also had the excellent garden salad. The slight hint of brown mustard flavor in the house vinaigrette dressing was a welcome (and tasty) surprise.

My waiter Jackie was very professional and attentive, always keeping my ice tea full.

All in all, Hamburger Mary’s is a delightful place I will be glad to return to.
If I’m lucky, it will become the new “Bella Italia” (which is the subject of my next restaurant review).