A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the grand re-opening of the first Bella Italia to have had a makeover with it’s new branding. It is situated in Irving Street, just off Leicester Square in London BUT I was really disappointed when I knew that there was no way I could make it. However, we were due to travel to London the following week so Ross, Grace and I paid them a visit after our trip to see Phantom of the Opera. It was especially convenient when we discovered it was just a 5 minute walk away.
The staff couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating and it didn’t matter that we were delayed (we were supposed to eat before the show but there wouldn’t have been enough time for us to enjoy it). We returned around 5.15pm and were given the choice of a table inside or out. It was a lovely day so we chose outside.
We noticed that the new decoration was lively and vibrant in a beautiful shade of blue. The menus themselves had a photo which reminded me of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.
The food was extremely varied with something for everybody. On top of that there was a separate specials menu which our waitress, Emelia, brought to us (she was very smiley and friendly and nothing was too much trouble). I was pleased to see that the children’s menu was very fairly priced with a good choice that wasn’t at all overwhelming.
For our starters, Ross chose the Polpette – baked spiced pork and beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with melting mozzarella and a slice of ciabatta, Grace had some Grissini Italian breadsticks and I opted for the Calamari – lightly breaded and deep fried squid with garlic mayonnaise and tomato sauce (which Grace used for her sticks).
For main course, Ross picked Pollo Formaggi Al Forno – chicken and crispy pancetta in a rich four cheese sauce with giant shell pasta and a cheesy crumb topping , Grace went for wholewheat rigatoni pasta with bolognese sauce and I chose Bella Surf and Turf with king prawns cooked in garlic and chilli butter served on top of a sirloin steak cooked medium rare. This came with chunky chips, piri piri mayonnaise dip, chesnut mushrooms and rocket topped with Granello cheese.
Pudding was an event in itself! Grace had some Mini Doughnuts served with chocolate dipping sauce, I decided upon Ciccolato Diavola – a sticky chocolate fudge brownie with praline pieces, a melting chocolate top and vanilla pod ice cream. As for Ross, he chose the amazing Gelato make-your-own sundae which listed a large variety of items you could use to construct your pudding. He decided on two vanilla and one honeycomb scoops of ice cream together with meringue pieces, popping candy and some rather lovely chocolate tagliatelle.
Grace had Diet Coke as her drink of choice, I had a Belvoir Raspberry and Lemon cordial made with soda water and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with my main course, whilst Ross sampled many of the beers on the menu.
My experience in the past of Bella Italia has always been a positive one. The last one we went to was in Exeter for Grace’s birthday party. I think that the new decoration has certainly enhanced the experience and made the feel of the restaurant more authentically Italian. It is a definite win for me. The manager, Marin, explained to me that they were thrilled to be chosen as the first to be decorated and I was really pleased for them.
The staff are unobtrusive, efficient and friendly. The service was amazingly quick but it did not feel like we were being rushed in any way.
I would say that the menu was reasonably priced. The kids menu included starter, main, dessert and a drink and I think was really good value at £5.25. I did feel that the Surf and Turf was on the pricey side at £19.45 but the rest of the food was the standard restaurant price as far as I was concerned.
As an extra sign of the fact that Bella Italia take care of their customers, I must mention the toilets! They have utilised what little space they have really well with slow-close toilet seats so little fingers won’t get crushed and they have put extra padding on the low ceilings to prevent a full-on bump on the head.
Overall, once again, my experience of Bella Italia was a positive one with which has been made easier on the eye with their brighter, happier decoration.
Disclaimer: Please note that we received a meal and drinks for 3 people at Bella Italia in return for this review, however, as always with all my reviews I always tell the truth and all words, images and opinions in this post are that of mine and my family and have not been influenced in any way.