Tag: Pasta Bella

A Long Minnesotan Goodbye: The Viking, The Landing & The Lady #FarewellTour2015

My farewell tour to North Iowa was like a Minnesota goodbye. It was long and drawn-out in the best possible way.

Beth and I said many of our farewells together. As we unpack in St. Louis, she packs for North Carolina. Here are some highlights from the final leg(s) of our Farewell Tour:

I visited Amy Hild’s gravesite with several North Bloggers. After we paid our respects, we convened at The Viking Drive-Inn where she used to speak fondly about working many summers ago. It’s a tiny restaurant that serves summer treats like soft serve ice cream, corn dogs, and burgers. If you weren’t specifically looking for The Viking, you might not know it’s there, except for the people milling around outside with ice cream cones. There didn’t appear to be a sign. Customers can sit at several outdoor tables a small or find a stool at the small dine-in counter.

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Small ice cream cones really aren’t that small and large cones are behemoth. The Viking’s chocolate ice cream hit the spot, but I did notice many people enjoying their most popular flavor, black raspberry. I can see why Amy enjoyed working at the Viking so much.

  • River City Sculptures On Parade

I’ve had my eye on Humpty Dumpty since the new River City Sculptures came to town in May.

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His real name is Mr. Eggwards and he’s one of 40 sculptures sprinkled throughout downtown Mason City. River City Sculptures on Parade partners with SculptureOne, a nonprofit that also brings a similar public art program to Sioux Falls, SD, Mankato, MN and Eau Claire, WI. Artists allow the cities to borrow the sculptures for one year. In September, residents can vote for the statue they want the city to keep, while they’re all available for purchase. The entire River City Sculpture walk is 1.6 miles long.

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I crashed Beth & Donna’s sculpture walk long enough to meet Mr. Eggwards. It appears that he has his eye on Beth.

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I’m not sure if you are supposed to ride this bird. Beth and Donna made me do it.

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  • Enjoying a meal with house vinaigrette, red sauce & calamari at Pasta Bella.

Pasta Bella opened in Mason City about one year ago and it’s the only Italian restaurant in town. Fortunately, we really enjoy their food. I am especially fond of their intriguing house vinaigrette, which is thicker than most and red-hued, and like their well-balanced red sauce. It’s not too sweet and not too tangy. Pasta Bella serves generous portions of their fried calamari (rings only) with a lot of lemon. On our last visit, the calamari was fried perfectly and tasted fresh. The 1910 Grille at the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel serves delicious fried calamari (both rings and tentacles), albiet the portion is a little smaller. 

Pasta bella farewell Collage

A basket of warm garlic knots come with each meal and staff pack carefully them in to-go orders. In fact, the last to-go meal we ordered here was packed immaculately so that nothing dribbled or tipped. The pizza here is delicious, too.

Strangely enough, there aren’t that many lakeside restaurants located along Clear Lake, Iowa. I’ll always remember The Landing because it’s where I tried my first Moscow Mule. This cocktail is typically made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice and served in a copper mug.

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Moscow Mules aren’t Iowa specific, but they seem to be more popular in North Iowa than any other place we’ve lived. The Landing also offers a concise menu and dishes are served in big metal baskets lined with newspaper. The sweet potato fries are especially delicious and worth the swap.

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If it’s sunny, don’t forget to bring a hat or sunglasses. The sun shines bright onto the patio. Live bands often play on the patio in the evenings and it’s really a relaxing location to watch the sun set.

Lady of the Lake
Our final farewell tour event embarked on a cruise on The Lady of the Lake, a paddle wheeler boat that circles Clear Lake. Many of our friends who have lived in the Mason City-Clear Lake area have ridden the Lady of the Lake many times. People often rent the boat for weddings or work functions while public cruises are offered daily.

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You can only pay for admission and snacks/drinks with cash or checks. Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle on board if it’s a warm evening, otherwise water costs $1.

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This evening was perfect for a cruise. We enjoyed the clear skies and slight breeze.

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  • Ritz Onion Rings at the Clear Lake Farmers Market. 

The Farewell stop I made before driving to St. Louis was at the Clear Lake Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I heard about the famous Ritz Onion ring food truck and craved a taste. The Ritz was a famous Clear Lake supper club that opened in the 20’s and operated until a fire destroyed it in 1999. Their onion rings were beloved and I’ve heard the version from this food truck taste the same.

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So hot coffee and onion rings might not be the best combination at 9 a.m., but it was totally worth it for a taste of Clear Lake history. One portion of onion rings ($7) is huge. The batter is shiny like lacquer and very crisp and the onion is tender instead of sliding out of the shell. If onion rings is not your thing first thing in the morning, you can also order donuts and breakfast sandwiches from the food truck.

Now that our farewell is over, it’s time to get acquainted with my new home of St. Louis, MO. Thanks you for joining me on this crazy Midwestern journey! More to come after I unpack a few more boxes. 

The Every Bar In Mason City Quest And More: Tailgaters & Pasta Bella

After a holiday hiatus, The Every Bar In Mason City Quest returns.

This time, we visited Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill, an establishment we’ve heard friends and community members mention. The first thing we noticed was the bar set-up. Jake loved it! Three flat screen televisions sat above the bar and the tables were arranged in such a way that everyone could comfortably watch the game.

Jake chose a high top table while I visited the bar to place an order and inquire about food. I told the bartender I was interested in a cocktail and inquired about popular choices. When she asked if I liked sweet drinks, I said I was game.

Mmmm. . . it tasted like a grapefruit soda. Kinky Liqueur & 7-Up hit the spot.

Tailgators

I tried a Kinky cooler once and liked that it didn’t taste too sweet. Grapefruit’s my favorite fruit and I’m a sucker for anything that tastes or smells like it. If you also like grapefruit, don’t let the bottle scare you away. The name Kinky is horrid, the liqueur is pink, and appears like it would taste very sweet. Now, don’t get me wrong. Drinking a cocktail with Kinky isn’t like sipping a fine glass of scotch, but if you like grapefruit, you might like Kinky.

Tailgaters’ menu offers typical bar food like pizza, burgers, and wings. A friendly woman at the bar recommended the pizza and the taco pizza her party shared did look good. We had just eaten pizza for lunch, so we ordered a cheeseburger and wings with mango-habernero sauce. The mango-habanero sauce coating Tailgators’ breaded wings tasted more like a traditional wing sauce than what Buffalo Wild Wings serves and was milder (for us, anyway), but we liked its flavor. The sauce tasted different enough to be interesting and I swiped-up all of the extra sauce from the bottom of the basket.

Jake’s burger experienced a kitchen mishap and the bartender automatically removed the charge from our bill. We were full enough with the wings and fries from the burger basket that we did not want additional food, anyway.

Wings Tailgators

The crinkle fries in the burger basket arrived fresh from the fryer and were seasoned with an addicting seasoning salt. The perfect amount of seasoning salt can really boost a frozen fry.

Overall, we enjoyed our visit. The vibe was really friendly and our bartender provided excellent service. We keep hearing pizza’s the way to go. I noticed at least one person ordering a take-out pizza, so we’ll have to return and try one.

While I’m discussing local restaurants, I’d like to share how much Jake and I enjoyed a take-out meal from the new Italian restaurant Pasta Bella. In fact, it’s our city’s only Italian restaurant. Jake and I enjoyed our meal courtesy of a Christmas gift from two of my Godcats Buddy & Holly. I’m possibly not suitable as a Godmother for real human children, but I rock as a Catgodmom.

Pasta Bella’s parking lot is usually packed in the evenings. My friend Beth noted they do a nifty take-out service, and we found that they do. From phone call to pick-up, our order was ready in about 20-minutes. We were impressed with how carefully the kitchen packed each item. Not a sauce or dressing was missing, and they even included a huge pile of the freshly baked garlic knots they offer to diners free of charge.

Pasta Bella fries their calamari rings in a light coating and we liked the half-lemon garnish.

Calamari Pasta Bella

For entrées, Jake chose chicken parmesan while I ordered eggplant parmesan. Each comes with a green salad or cup of soup and we chose the salad with house dressing. The salad greens were very fresh and the house dressing was unlike any I’ve tried. It was like a thick, red vinaigrette that tasted both sweet and savory.

Pasta Bella Collage
The red sauce tasted nicely balanced and we enjoyed our leftovers with the extra garlic knots. Our whole meal cost about $33 before tax and tip. We have no complaints about our experience and it lined up with the positive reviews that friends have shared with us. We hope this local, family-owned and operated restaurant has a long future in Mason City. You can reach them on their new website or by calling 641-201-1891.

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The Every Bar In Mason City Quest
Burke’s Bar & Grill
Candy Bar Nite Club
Homer’s Sports Bar & Grill
Kozy Korner
Mason City Brewing
Mulligan’s Bar & Grill (11/24/2014)
Mystic Lanes Bowling
Patrick’s Bar
Ransom’s
Sidewinder Bar (11/29/14)
Spike’s Tap & Grill
Sportsmans Lounge 
Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill (01/10/14)
VFW Post 733
Willow Run Lounge (11/01/2014)
Wise Guys Sports Pub (11/08/2014)

Restaurant/Hotel Bars
1910 Lounge
Chop Eleven
LD’s Filling Station
Loredo’s
Papa’s
Pastime Gardens
The Quarry Tapas Bar
Rib Crib
River City Bar & Grille at the Clarion Inn
Whiskey Creek
Wok ‘n Roll

Reader Suggested Bars Throughout North Iowa
Bernie’s Bar, Forest City
Elly’s Lakefront Tap, Clear Lake
Lake Time Brewery, Clear Lake
Signatures Sports Bar & Grill, Northwood
Tanks Bar & Grill, Rudd
West Fork Wharf, Sheffield (12/12/14)

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