Pollo Cacciatore at Bella Italia

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, which I enjoyed.

For my main I did initially think about having their new(ish) Pinsa Pizza.

With a bigger, thicker, crispier base, this traditional premium Italian Pinsa is hard to beat

I suspect if they had a white base pizza with mushroom and truffle then I would have gone for that. In the end I decided I would go with a pasta dish and I chose the Pollo Cacciatore – Roast chicken, pancetta, chestnut mushrooms and red onions tossed with pappardelle pasta in a white wine and tomato sauce. I did look at the image on the online menu and liked the look of the dish.

The dish which arrived didn’t quite look like the picture on the online menu!

This is what I received.

This is what the online version looked like.

Having said that the pappardelle pasta was cooked well, and I liked the mushrooms and red onion in the dish. I could have quite easily lost the chicken though. The sauce was tasty and I had some extra parmesan added which enhanced the dish.

For dessert I had the Tiramisu.

Overall I did enjoy my food and I enjoyed all three dishes I had from the set menu. I think after having such an excellent meal back in June 2021, I was a little disappointed. I think that it didn’t help that the dishes I received on my table didn’t reflect what was on the menu. Maybe they shouldn’t publish photographs of the dishes on the website. I probably will visit again at some time.

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.

Incomplete Tiramisu

I was out for a meal at Bella Italia and I had a dessert, Tiramisu.

An italian classic! Espresso & Marsala soaked sponge layered with sweet mascarpone cream and finished with Amaretti biscuit crumb and a dusting of cocoa powder. 

Tiramisu

Yes, I also did wonder where the Amaretti biscuit crumb was too!

One of the issues I find sometimes in places, is you read the menu, order the dish, the menu is taken away and then you receive your dish. You feel something is not right. You then later review the menu, and in this instance you realise that the Amaretti biscuit crumb was missing. It also did not look like what was on the online menu.

I have found that this sometimes happens too often. It has happened before at Bella Italia up in Leeds with a mushroom dish I ordered, then I did complain.

I was a little disappointed with the look of the dish. The photograph doesn’t really show how sunken the Tiramisu was. It did look like it had been in the fridge for a long time!

As a Tiramisu it was okay. I think there needed to be a stronger espresso and Marsala flavour in there. The missing biscuit crumb would have added some much needed texture.

I had this as part of a set menu (so about £3.50) but this was not worth the price of £5.99.

I don’t think I would be ordering this again in the future.

Chiquito

I’ve only been to Chiquito a couple of times, but I have always liked the idea of the menu.

We went as a family and had some interesting dishes. I don’t think we were overly impressed with the experience, and I can’t see us making a return visit anytime soon. The food was okay, buy nothing special.

I had the chilaquiles, these were nachos tossed in sauce, oven baked with mozzarella until crispy on top and soft at the bottom, topped with a fried egg. I had mine with the barbacoa beef and chimichurri sauce.

It was just okay, I thought it was interesting with the egg. I didn’t really enjoy the soft nachos.

My eldest went with the chimichanga, fried tortilla packed with rice, refried beans, mozzarella and jalapeño cheese sauce. Served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

He did enjoy the dish.

My other son with the topped salad with a chicken + chorizo skewer. 

The salad was mixed leaves, grains, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, pink onions and crumbled feta cheese in a citrus dressing. Interesting salad and combination of flavours.

The other dish on the table was a 6oz juicy tender steak, mixed salad and homemade sweet potato wedges.

The steak lacked flavour, and the sweet potato wedges were undercooked.

Overall it was just okay as a meal out, the service was lacklustre.

Time for Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit

We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.

Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.

I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.

I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.

Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.

Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza

I have had the Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza before, which apart from the chilli I had enjoyed. On a visit to Bella Italia for my birthday back in April I decided to have the pizza again. The Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza comes with basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

I did enjoy the white base, and toppings. I did this time remove most of the chillis.

Time for a Raisukare

We went out to eat at Wagamama at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, which is one of our regular haunts for meals out

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was busy and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

This time we had to wait a while as they were understaffed, but it didn’t feel too long before we were shown to a table.

I looked over the menu, I was tempted by dishes I had before but in the end I decided to have the Tofu Raisukare. This was a vegan curry of tofu, mild and citrus coconut sauce, mangetout, peppers, red and spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, coriander, served with fresh lime and white rice.

This was a nice fresh mild curry, though the red chilli added a bit of heat. The tofu had an interesting texture and wasn’t quite what I expected. I had thought the tofu would have a little more bite. The sauce was nice, the vegetables were very crisp.

Overall I enjoyed the dish and something I would order again.

Time for some yasai yaki soba

One of our regular haunts for meals out is Wagamama at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. It was the last place we ate out at, before the March 2020 lockdown.

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino. I quite liked the concept of Café Giardino and their sandwiches, but as I recall I didn’t eat there very much.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was full and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

It wasn’t long though before we were been shown to our table.

I looked over the menu, I did think about having a ramen, but in the end decided that I would have something that I wouldn’t usually choose, and went from a dish from the teppanyaki side of the menu.

I went with the yasai yaki soba. This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

yasai yaki soba

It looked great. There was some great flavours in the dish and I really enjoyed eating it. I did feel though it could have done with a lot more mushroom. My son had the prawn and chicken maki soba and compared to my dish, he had a lot more prawns and chicken than I had mushrooms.

I think I will try and create this dish myself at home.

Time for Bakers and Baristas

There are a fair few places you can grab a coffee at when visiting the Mall at Cribbs Causeway. I have been to fair few of them (well would you expect anything less). Back in May we were shopping at the Mall and decided to stop for coffee. Bakers and Barista wasn’t busy so we went there and had a flat white and a muffin. 

The muffin was just okay (not enough raspberries in it) and the coffee was nice.

There was a good range of food when we visited. Not a bad place to have a coffee and they have real china cups as well.

That was an interesting pizza

Back in July we went out to eat for a family celebration. We went to Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway, having quite enjoyed our last visit there in June. The fact they do some good gluten free dishes was also a factor in us choosing it.

We had a lovely warm welcome from the staff and they showed us to our table. We had a good look over the menu.

I had a starter, it was the Tomino con Parma. This was soft Italian cheese wrapped with prosciutto ham and fresh sage, baked in the oven and served with pasta fritti. I hadn’t seen a picture and was a little surprised by what I got.

Having said that, it was an interesting starter, but I really didn’t think much of it, and I wouldn’t have it again.

For my main course I went with the Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza, this was pizza with Basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza, this was pizza with Basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze

What I liked about the pizza was that this was quite different to regular pizza, the addition of broccoli and a white base was really nice. I liked the different cheeses as well. It was tasty, but for me there was a little too much chilli on the pizza.

Overall I have been impressed with my most recent visits to Bella Italia. The food has been more interesting, better quality and the service we have had, has been excellent. Well impressed.