Location: 3985 Steven's Creek Blvd., Santa Clara
Reviewed: January 23, 2007
Espresso: Bellano serves Zoka's famed Paladino and pour it short. My double (doubles only) was ~1.75oz. The barista went through the paces slowly and methodically: ground, tamped, flushed grouphead, poured directly into preheated ceramic cup. I noticed that she was using a naked portafilter, which may have been behind the somewhat bubbly crema. Otherwise, the crema was good: dark and thick, it persisted throughout the cup. The shot was heavy-bodied and tasted of nut and caramel, tending toward dark chocolate in the aftertaste.
Atmosphere: Bellano is a smallish yet open-feeling shop in a small stripmall. Fairly typical, it contains the standard cafe tables and chairs and a couple of armchairs. They really need a couch. Free wi-fi.
Verdict: Good: a very serious contender.