We noted a similar problem with the minestrone ($4.50), a run-of-the-mill vegetable soup heavy with carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, potatoes, and shreds of spinach but no tomatoes, white beans, or pasta. Both lasagna and minestrone responded to salting, the latter more smartly than the former.
A nice feature of the menu is that you can get little versions of pizzas, pastas, and salads for $3 to $6 each. A pair of these makes a nice two-course dinner for someone who isn't starving or is watching carb intake or feels a little jet-lagged. Pizza regina ($4.75) is a daughter of the full-figured pizza margherita, topped with the same combination of tomatoes, oregano, basil, and mozzarella plenty of mozzarella. Pizza salsiccia ($8.95) is (to extend our familial imagery) an uncle, a brawny pie of meaty mushrooms and lots of fennel-charged Italian sauces. If the current vogue of thin-crust pizza has left you fatigued, you will appreciate BV's slightly thicker, breadier crusts.
Two of the restaurant's best dishes turn up as appetizers. Caprese salad ($6.95) is often routine, a tried-and-true medley of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, but here it is lightly doused with a pesto vinaigrette that enlivens each constituent while bringing them together. (All salad dressings are supposed to do this, but few do it this well.) And sautéed mussels ($9.95) arrive in a pool of garlicky tomatowhite wine sauce that will have you motioning for more of the house-made focaccia to sop it up with, since it is impolite to do so with your fingers, even if you've just flown in from Venice and have jet lag. *
CAFFÉ BELLA VENEZIA
Dinner: nightly, 5 p.m.midnight
720 Post, SF
Beer and wine