Ponce City Market has a variety of dining options that makes it impossible to choose what's for dinner. One day I'll have to check out the other options, but for now my loyalty lies with Bellina: the small Italian restaurant on the corner.

The restaurant's decor is a more relaxed version of an elegant  Italian scene. There is open seating in the front, or traditional restaurant-style seating with a hostess towards the back. No matter where you are seated, you can smell the delicious aromas of fresh pasta cooking. The waitstaff is friendly and the food is made quick. So now that you're convinced, here is what you should order!

Italian Mac and Cheese

First up, the Italian Mac and Cheese caught my eye immediately. I would say this is less of a classic Mac & Cheese and more of a cheesy pasta – in the best way possible. The breadcrumbs on top add a perfect crunch to balance out the blend of ooey-gooey artisanal Italian cheeses. This pasta dish is one of the heavier ones on the menu, sure to leave you happy and full. If you don't order this one yourself, someone at the table certainly should. 


Stephanie Yormack

Next up, the Ragù: large pappardelle noodles covered in a Bolognese sauce. Bolognese is never my first pick, but it was love at first bite. This pasta dish is covered in rich sauce, cheese and meat without feeling too overwhelming. I added some extra red pepper flakes for a little kick. It was the perfect ratio, with slight heat from the red pepper.


Another great pick is the Carbonara. Besides looking Instagram worthy, it tastes amazing. The egg yolk sits gently right on top of the pasta, so as you take your first bite, the rich egg melts over the bacon, peas, and bucatini. 


Stephanie Yormack

The final pasta worth mentioning is Bellina's own Polpo. This squid ink pasta topped with octopus was more exotic and flavorful than the other classics. Even though it tasted amazing, my favorite part was how the colors contrasted. The black from the pasta made the fresh tomatoes and basil pop. In my experience, squid ink pasta is typically spaghetti; however, the rigatoni shape forced perfection, in terms of flavor, with every bite.


Stephanie Yormack

For all you non-pasta lovers, the "paninos" are fresh and just as filling. Specifically, the "salsiccla" combines the restaurant's house made Italian sausage, agrodolce onions, and crispy ciabatta to make a panini masterpiece.

Though these are my personal highlights, you certainly can't go wrong when enjoying any meal at Bellina. The couple at the table next to me ordered the Chicken Milanese, an honorable mention that smelled almost as good as it looked. Definitely what I'm ordering next time.