For tea we did nachos with beef fajita, all served with salad.
I use a box pack for the nachos, just adding cheese before baking in the oven.
For the salad I made a nice mixed salad with butternut squash, sliced radish and artichokes.
I don’t always get my first choice when looking for somewhere to eat as a family, even when it’s my birthday. It’s not that I like different places, a member of the family has a gluten-free diet and despite the wider choice you have these days, it’s not always about the choices. So after a game of bowling we ventured off to Pizza Express.
I do quite like how the different branches of Pizza Express reflect their locality. The Pizza Express at Southampton has a ocean liner styling, whilst the one up at Cribbs Causeway has a lot of Banksy style artwork up on the walls.
Though it was a Friday night, and we had booked, the place wasn’t too busy. I wonder if it’s busier during lunchtimes, because of the shopping.
As it was my birthday I decided to start with the sharing antipasto platter.
On the menu this is described as containing a selection of Italian meats: Finocchiona, Coppa, Milano salami and Calabrese sausage, with olives, artichoke, roasted tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, sweet Peppadew peppers and dough baked with Gran Milano cheese, accompanied by garlic butter and pestorissa, a harissa spiced tomato dip.
We went with the bigger sharing platter and that was just about right for five (combined with some gluten free dough balls). Okay if you are really greedy then you might want to order two of them. The salami was nice and fresh. Sometimes with these kinds of things, they are prepared so far in advance that the salami has dried out. The bread was interesting, but tasty. It could have done with some more artichoke, there were just two pieces.
For my main course I went with the Campana on a thin crusty Romana base. On top was crumbled pork & fennel sausage, friarielli, tomato, garlic oil and mozzarella, finished with Gran Milano cheese and parsley on a Romana base.
This was an enjoyable tasty pizza. I think it could have done with a little more friarielli. Friarielli or rapini is sometimes referred to as broccoli, but is actually a kind of turnip greens. Quite tasty.
Overall it was a really nice meal and I did enjoy it.
In the Guardian, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes about how much he enjoys the artichoke.
Raw, boiled, grilled, baked or stuffed, the globe artichoke is one of summer’s most welcome treats. Who’d have thought a thistle could taste so good?
Personally I really like artichokes, I think my preference is for the chargrilled ones that are then marinaded in olive oil, herbs and spices.
I do also like fresh, but preference is for the Italian style anti-pasto type ones you can buy.
I quite like Bella Italia, yes I know it is a chain and they use a range of pre-made ingredients in their cooking and it’s all systems and less about flair and passion. Even having said that compared to other places I enjoy the food, the service, the atmosphere and the Italian’ess.
I was there on Monday for lunch and had an enjoyable meal. I started with the calamari and unlike other places which serve pre-cooked rubbery squid rings, at Bella Italia they do use the whole squid. However they do seem to overcook it, it would be much better if they cooked for half the time that they do. Still nice, but not how I like it. It arrived with lemon and mayonnaise.
I had pizza for my main course, a Quattro Stagioni, the four seasons; pepperoni, smoked ham, roasted mushrooms and artichokes. It was quite nice, I prefer the pizza from Pizza Express, but this is so much better than the pizzas you can get in other (so-called) pizza eateries. The smoked ham was too salty for me, so that went off, but the mushrooms and artichokes were done well. The pizza base was just right, thin and not too crispy or too soggy. The tomato sauce was slightly too salty, but did taste of tomates. I would have liked a little more cheese.
The pasta dish ordered by my other half was very nice as well, Penne Funghi Pancetta. which was pancetta bacon, mushrooms and penne pasta sauteed in a creamy cheese sauce.
We had soft drinks and left before we could have coffee as we were pushed for time.
The service was fine, though it did take a little time for our main courses to arrive, and it felt like they had been waiting for a while.
Overall it was a nice place for lunch and I would make a return visit.
A variety of bruschetta with cheese, tomatoes (fresh and sun-dried), artichokes and mushrooms.
Start off with a ciabatta, though in theory you could use a baguette or french stick (and I have done so).
Butter one side only.
Dribble olive oil over.
Bake in a hot oven for less than ten minutes.