Not typically known for fine dining, Garland recently added what we feel will be a point of pride off of Broadway Blvd. When we walked in, we noticed LaBella’s Spartan decorating style. A couple of pillars and small pictures here and there, but for the most part, the dining area is large and open. Tables are far enough apart that you don’t have to worry about bumping a purse onto the floor on your way to the register or backing into your neighbor, and the front wall is made up of a large window that provides plenty of natural light during lunch.

Since the restaurant had opened only a few days before our first visit, we were one of only a few tables and it seemed the only table not somehow connected to the owners, but that didn’t change the level of service. Our waiter was courteous, and even when we badgered him with questions, as we are prone to do, he answered what he knew and found out what he didn’t.

One of his question-answering trips to the kitchen brought great news: the tomato sauce is just that, tomatoes. Not chicken broth or sausage grease, just tomatoes, vegetables and spices. But don’t worry; your meat-loving friends will have plenty to choose from with the meat sauce, meatballs, and various meat dishes offered. We were just excited to know there are so many vegetarian options available.

LaBella's Cheese RavioliAnd those options are wonderful. A simple Cheese Ravioli (6.49) comes with four large, round ravioli pieces filled with ricotta and spices. The tomato sauce doesn’t hit the hinge of your jaw with bitterness like so many out there. This is a mellow and extremely filling meal.

LaBella's spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and basil

LaBella's ziti with olive oil, garlic and basil

Spaghetti or Ziti with olive oil garlic and basil (5.99) comes in a large portion and eats like Italian comfort food. That is, if comfort food came swimming in super-flavored oil. So good! This is such a simple dish that there isn’t much to say other than in this case, less is definitely more.

LaBella's baked zitiIf you need a little more pop in your pasta, try the Baked Ziti (6.49). You get a nice little zing from the tomato sauce, but the cheese is not overbearing, so the flavors balance out nicely. Like the others, this will leave you full and happy.

LaBella's eggplant rollatiniWe tried the Eggplant Rollatini (8.49) and decided unanimously that while not bad, this was our least favorite. It’s hard to compete with all the other good foods and something had to take the bullet, so this is it. Ricotta cheese wrapped in a slightly bitter eggplant slice under tomato sauce and mozzarella is good if you like ricotta, but if that cheese isn’t your thing, you may want to consider something else on the menu.

To start one of our dinner meals, we tried the Caprese (6.49), which was beautiful. The mozzarella is very soft and tastes fresh atop a firm tomato that is more red than pink. Fresh basil and vinaigrette added spark to the calm cheese and tomato, making this one of our favorites in the caprese category.

LaBella's fresh breadAnd we can’t forget the fresh bread. These are more like mini loaves than rolls and they are exactly the kind of bread that lends itself to pulling out the gooey middle to eat first. But we can’t leave the outer shell, because it’s topped with oil or butter then sprinkled with garlic and Parmesan cheese before coming to the table. You get butter on the side, but honestly there is no need to add anything.

Garland locals might notice that the salad dressing is an awful lot like that served at Vetoni’s before they closed. Good observation! After Vetoni’s closed, the owner partnered with a nephew to open LaBella on Friday, April 20. And, smart guys that they are, they kept the cook that made Vetoni’s so great. The menu has some changes, but old favorites, like the garlic, oil and basil pastas, crossed over. Just like before, these guys have daily specials and offer wine glasses if you’d like to bring your own bottle.

With dine in, take out and delivery, LaBella Italian Grill will be a frequently visited staple.