Mushroom Crostini at Bella Italia

Mushroom Crostini

I was out for a meal at Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway. It’s being a while since I was last here, but I do remember have an excellent meal here back in June 2021. I did notice that Bella Italia at Cabot Circus which has been closed for a while, is now going to be a Bao Burger. I found that branch lacked character and atmosphere, whereas the Cribbs Causeway branch has a little more character and charm. They’ve updated it over the years and though at some time it had a classic Italian trattoria feel to it, today it is slightly more of a Italian inspired funky look.

We had booked, which having arrive, made sense, as the place was rather full. We were given a friendly welcome and we were shown to our table.

I looked over the menu. I didn’t think it was as interesting as it was back in June 2021, but there were some dishes I did like the sound of. 

In the end I went with the set menu, and I had a starter of Mushroom Crostini.

This was chestnut mushrooms cooked in a creamy porcini sauce served on toasted ciabatta slices.

Apart from the fact I think it may have been sitting for a while as the toasted ciabatta was a little soggy. I really did like this dish. The mushrooms were cooked well and the sauce was rich, savoury and had an excellent mushroom flavour.

This was an excellent starter and so much better than the similar sounding Funghi Arrosto mushroom starter I once had in Leeds in 2019.

I would certainly have it again.

Where’s my spinach?

As I was going through some photographs I realised that this meal I had last September wasn’t on the blog. I was up in Leeds  and staying at the Woodlands Hotel. This was a really nice hotel outside Leeds, so plenty of parking, and it was cheaper than a city centre Premier Inn.

I decided to go out to eat. I planned to go to Morley which had an interesting choice of restaurants, however the road there was closed due to an accident. So in the end I went to the Centre 27 Business Park and as I had a voucher, I went to Bella Italia.

I had a warm welcome and though the place was busy I was shown to a table and I looked over the menu. I ordered the Funghi Arrosto  mushroom starter, which was described in the menu as chestnut mushrooms oven-baked with wilted baby spinach leaves in a mascarpone and porcini sauce. Served with toasted ciabatta. It sounded rather nice. However when it arrived didn’t have any spinach.

Funghi Arrosto

When I complained initially I was told the spinach was mixed into the sauce. Knowing that wasn’t the case, the menu had said wilted baby spinach I had to go to the Bella Italia website and find the picture of the dish with the description.

Funghi Arrosto

I complained again, showed the picture and compared it to what I had received, and this time I was taken seriously. The dish was replaced.

This time it looked more like the menu picture, so much better, though I think the ciabatta could have been toasted more, but I was a little tired of complaining and I was hungry. I really shouldn’t have had to complain twice, I shouldn’t have even needed to complain once!

For my mains I had a mushroom pizza, can you tell I was in the mood for mushrooms. I ordered the Funghi Luganica – A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

I’ve had this pizza before at Bella Italia and I enjoyed it last time, and I enjoyed it this time as well, though it was a little overdone to my taste. The base is mushroomy (is that a word) and savoury, over the traditional tomato that you find on most pizza. The chunks of mushroom on the pizza were very nice and I really enjoyed them.

I decided not to have a desert.

I did later complain and got a £20 voucher to spend on a future visit to Bella Italia.

That branch of Bella Italia has now permanently closed.

Baking the Bread

Homemade Bread

Over the last few months I have got into a habit of making and baking my own bread.

I don’t use a bread maker, all done by hand, but sometimes I will use a bread mix. The key I find is, both good kneading and letting the dough rise.

I use to think that making bread was too much effort, but as with any cooking technique, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Yes I make mistakes, but generally the bread making process is quick and the results very tasty.

My personal preference is for more rustic breads, sometimes with seeds or wheat flakes. However I also quite like making ciabatta style bread, including dough sticks. I have also made olive bread.

Homemade Olive Bread

I have a couple of loaf tins for baking, but these aren’t essential. In theory you can use cake tins.

So do you bake your own bread? Do you have a favourite recipe?