Having enjoyed a recent lunch at Belle Italia I had a beer alongside it. I ordered a Birra Moretti and a very nice beer it was too. A a 4.6% abv pale lager. Very refreshing and a great accompaniment to the Italian food.
A quick lunch at Bella Italia was on the cards and not fancying pizza or pasta I went with a sharing platter all to myself…
Our selection of oven baked lemon & rosemary chicken wings, spiced meatballs, calamari, mini garlic filled calzoni and lightly battered courgettes served with flamed pepper and lemon herb dips.
I have talked before about platters, sometimes they consist of a bundle of stuff that was thrown into a deep fat fryer. This one from Bella Italia was more imaginative than most.
The chicken wings were, as I expected, reheated from cooked, but you could smell and taste the lemon and rosemary. The problem with reheating is that it changes the taste and texture of the chicken. Freshly cooked chicken wings are much more succulent and have more flavour and when you have had freshly cooked, you are always disappointed with the reheated versions. These, though reheated, were very nice, and it was also a nice change not have them covered in a sweet sticky sauce.
The meatballs were nice and spicy and were something I wasn’t expecting to find on the platter. They came in an earthenware tumbler and were covered in a pleasant tomato sauce.
The calamari were typical of the calamari at Bella Italia, covered in flour and deep fried. Slightly overcooked for my liking, but it was proper squid and not just rubbery rings as you find at some places. I do like calamari.
The mini garlic filled calzoni were simply small pizza bases, with garlic butter, folded and baked like a calzone pizza. Soft on the inside, but with crunchy edges, the garlic was subtle and complemented the bread.
The lightly battered courgettes, reminded me of a dish I had ordered on Kefalonia. Chunky strips of courgette, covered in a batter and deep fried. These were crispy on the outside and the courgette was lovely and tender, almost melt in the mouth on the inside. Really nice.
Overall I enjoyed my platter and would be happy to order it again.
As well as liking real ales I also do like Italian beers, especially when I am eating Italian food. I have always thought when eating a particular cuisine that you drink what would be drunk with that cuisine in that country. So when I was eating an Italian meal recently at a branch of Bella Italia I took the opportunity to have an Italian beer, this time I had a Birra Moretti.
This was a very nice Italian beer, full of flavour and perfect with the Italian food and Italian-esque atmosphere. It was stronger in flavour than some Italian lagers.
Once place I do seem to frequent a fair bit, is Bella Italia. Mainly as it is convenient and also they accept Tesco Clubcard deals. Yes it is a chain and they probably use some kind of step system for cooking, but compared to some traditional Italian places I have eaten it isn’t that bad.
One thing I seem to order from the menu a lot is the calamari.
They coat it in parmesan before deep frying it. Sometimes it can be overcooked (not how I like it) but generally they do get it right.
I also quite like the pasta and pizza at Bella Italia too.
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.