La Dolce Vita is one of the new restaurants in Placencia which are helping make this colorful village at the tip of the peninsula in southern Belize a serious proposition for those who wish to dine well after a day out on the clear waters of the Caribbean. Many visitors have been delighted with La Dolce Vita since it first opened its doors in 2004, and as a result its reputation has been growing fast. The owner is Simone De Angelis, who is also chef, and his passion for the foods and wines of his native Italy is apparent in every dish he serves. The kitchen is a clean, efficient place where much of the work is done by Simone's family. His beautiful eight-year-old daughter also keeps a close eye on the proceedings. Simone imports his own wine, his pasta, his olive oil and many of his other ingredients ensures that they are always of the highest quality. In fact he is a perfectionist in such matters, and would rather not cook a dish than use inferior ingredients.

The atmosphere in La Dolce Vita is pleasant and relaxed, a cool air-conditioned oasis from Belizean weather. Posters adorn the mellow painted walls, showing scenes from Fellini's great movie, which of course inspired the restaurant's name. De Angelis, who was born in Rome and learned to cook there, works hard to ensure that his guests are comfortable from the moment they set foot in La Dolce Vita. The service is always courteous, and the music, often operatic arias, creates the perfect ambience in which to enjoy Simone's delicious meals. Particularly recommended among his starters are the antipasti, his cold meats and cheeses redolent of Italy; his bruschetta imaginative and delicious - they are the perfect appetizers to accompany a cold glass of Pinot Grigio, or a light Chianti. Among the main courses all the pasta dishes are superb, their subtle sauces created with great care and skill. His meat and fish dishes are prepared with simplicity and taste, and for dessert the Gelato provide and excellent finale to the experience. La Dolce Vita is a wonderful example of just how good a small, family-run restaurant can be when its patron is committed to food and wine of true quality served inexpensively in an elegant and friendly room. Highly recommended.

Patrick McGrath is the author of eight books, and three of them have been made into films, and Maria Aitken has for many years been a distinguished actress and director in film and theater.
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