After an exhausting week of triathlon training, interning, and fighting with my apartment's Internet connection for my online class, I was in dire need of the physical and mental boost that only great Athens, Georgia food can provide me. So I drove straight to Broad Street to indulge in a hearty Friday night Italian meal at La Dolce Vita. This downtown Athens restaurant is on the second floor and overlooks the historic North Campus of the University of Georgia. Perfection.

I met my parents for dinner because my mom had been out of town for a few weeks and I hadn't seen her in a while. (Of course, I wasn't about to pass up a free meal. Especially because La Dolce Vita is normally a tad bit out of my regular price range when dining on my own.) I greeted her with a big, traditional Bertrand hug, then sat down to nibble on pieces of freshly baked bread dipped in olive oil, while listening to our waitress read off the specials of the night. I didn't even need to look at the menu after hearing her, I knew exactly what I wanted to order- the tagliatelle pasta served with a lamb bolognese.

Perhaps I could improve on my photography skills
 a bit, but here it is: my Tagliatelle pasta
with lamb bolognese! Magnifico!
For me, pasta is right up there with chocolate and pizza on the list of foods I could eat all day, every day for the rest of my life. However, after years of fighting with uncoordinated hands that can never seem to successfully swirl and twirl lengthy noodles around my fork, I usually go for something shorter, like a penne or a rigatoni. But when seasoned ground lamb is served in a bubbling red wine and tomato-based sauce, you don't question the type of noodle that lies beneath. You neatly tuck that white cloth napkin into your shirt, prepare your knife and fork (and maybe yourself, mentally) and then impatiently await to be served this glorious pasta.

It was just as, or more, delicious than it sounds. I was definitely approaching full less than halfway through, but I simply couldn't put down my utensils. As I continued to eat, I fell more and more away from the conversation Mama and Papa Bertrand were having, in order to focus intently on getting heaping forkfuls of pasta into my mouth. And I didn't stop 'til I had licked the bowl clean.

The Tagliatelle al Salmone! Absolute perfection.
(I promise it was presented in a much
prettier manner than I captured in the picture!
I'm workin' on it..) 
I cannot close, though, until I rave a little about my mom's dish. I only tried a bite, but it was a bite I feel worthy of mentioning. She ordered the Tagliatelle al Salmone, a regularly-listed menu item. It was an eggy tagliatelle noodle served in a vodka cream sauce with smoked salmon and black fish roe. This might be a bold statement, but I really don't believe I have ever had a piece of salmon that was this tasty. The intensely smoky flavor hit the taste buds beautifully just before the smooth cream sauce coated the tongue with a savory flavor, followed by a faint twinge of sweetness. It was absolutely divine.

Work and school have continuously become more overwhelming and stressful. This, along with the beautiful Athens summer weather that incessantly beckons me away from my desk, sort of makes me want to quit everything and take an impromptu vacation to the coast. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, at least every once in a while. My suggestion would be to do the next best (feasible) thing- stuff yourself with outstanding Classic City food from La Dolce Vita, preferably while surrounded by friends and family! They're even open for lunch, in case you just can't wait until dinner for a great pick-me-up Italian meal. 

--Elizabeth Bertrand