Bel Lago is a tastefully-appointed, Italian-inspired eatery that has beautiful views of the Hoover Reservoir. Although the outdoor seating is far less enjoyable in the winter, come summertime, it will be a beautiful place to enjoy a cocktail while admiring the sailboats.
Bel Lago is located in the same location as the now departed Hoover Grill. The decor is far better at Bel Lago. They have replaced the cold, metallic interior of Hoover Grill with a combination of tan and brown accents. The fireplace makes the dining room warm and inviting.
The menu at Bel Lago features Italian cuisine, sandwiches, salads and assorted Mediterranean favorites. My biggest complaint is that with a menu this expansive, it should have been possible to offer a vegetarian sandwich and another vegetarian entree. Although the food is excellent, variety is the spice of life, and it feels like the vegetarian choices on the menu might have been added as an afterthought.
The staff is very helpful. Our server took the time to explain what items on the menu were vegetarian-friendly.
Bel Lago also has a nice selection of wine, cocktails and draft beer. I was impressed by the Bell's Best Brown and Goose Island Matilda beers available on draft.
I started with a twin hummus plate. Regular and spicy red pepper hummus are served on a platter with pita triangles, green, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, carrots and celery as dipping accoutrements. While the plain hummus was good, the spicy hummus was fantastic. I almost wanted to send my plain hummus back and get a full two servings of the spicy stuff. The veggies and pitas provided a variety of flavors with which to scoop both dips up.
My main course was linguine in a pesto cream sauce. Bel Lago makes all their pasta by hand, and the results turn out with great texture and flavor. The pesto sauce was rich but mildly flavored, with subtle hints of fresh basil and garlic alongside the delightful crunch of pine nuts. Fans of local eating will also be impressed that the basil was grown down the street by Westerville North students in their hydroponics class.
Other vegetarian options on the menu include pizzas. There is a Mediterranean pizza as well as a margherita pizza. There are also three vegetarian salads as well as a grilled vegetable plate.
The interior is not the only thing that Bel Lago has improved upon from Hoover Grill. The parking lot at the Hoover Grill/Bel Lago spot is too small for the amount of people that can be seated in the restaurant, and Westerville is not the most walkable community. Bel Lago has fixed the parking shortage by offering valet service on busy nights.
Despite shortchanging vegetarians on their menu options, Bel Lago makes quality fare that can be enjoyed with beautiful views of the landscape. If you aren't opposed to a limited number of vegetarian options, Bel Lago prepares quality food that, while somewhat expensive, pays close attention to presentation and preparation.