Saturday, 18 January 2014

Restaurant review: Bella Italia

Bella Italia is definitely one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Cardiff. There are two Bella Italia restaurants in Cardiff city centre, but my favourite by far is the restaurant in the Brewery Quarter. It's much bigger than the little restaurant on St Mary's Street so the tables aren't squashed so close together which generally provides a nicer dining experience.

We usually order a starter as well as a main course when we go to Bella Italia as they have such a good selection. Also, we're big fans of Italian food so like to make the most of the occasion we visit an Italian restaurant. When we visited in December, I decided to order the Polpette for my starter (baked spiced pork and beef meatballs). If I'm ordering a starter and there are meatballs on the starter menu, it's very likely that I'll end up ordering them. Bella Italia always provide plenty of meatballs and they're smothered in a rich tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. The toasted ciabatta is a nice carby bonus! Although the restaurant was very busy, the starters arrived within ten minutes of placing our order.

There were definitely no complaints from me on the starter. Delicious as usual! The meatballs were packed with flavour without being too spicy, and the melted mozzarella and tomato sauce were the perfect accompaniment. I am a massive fan of mozzarella... some call me boring, but I love it!

I decided to order a calzone for my main course. I tried the Pollo e Spicani calzone a few months ago which was very tasty, but this time I fancied trying the Carne calzone as I was craving a bit of a meat feast. This variation of the calzone contains pancetta, spicy meatballs, red onion, mozzarella and beef ragu. For those of you who have never heard of a calzone, it's basically a pizza folded in half. 

This photo isn't very impressive as it looks a bit like a very ordinary pasty. I should really have cut into the calzone then taken the photo, but I was too hungry at the time to think about the most effective way to photograph my food. As you can see, Bella Italia's calzone is always served with a generous dollop of tomato sauce . 

This calzone tasted like a cross between a bolognese and a very meaty pizza... two of my favourite things! The dough doesn't look very appetising in the photo but it was just the right consistency and was crunchy in all the right places. Again, the mozzarella was a very effective addition and the beef ragu was spectacular. Also, I definitely exceeded my meatball allowance on this particular day as the calzone was packed full of them. 

I love the rustic interior in Bella Italia. The rustic theme is consistent from their bar area to their menus to their tables and chairs. I love the combination of a good theme and striking branding in restaurants.... I've always got my marketing hat on. The staff are always friendly and attentive, and we're not usually kept waiting too long for our food. 

Bella Italia is cheaper than Bellini's, and I would argue that both restaurants are very comparable in terms of quality and their menu choices.  Although Bellini's serves an amazing bolognese, I prefer Bella Italia as the atmosphere is always more relaxed and homely. I feel under dressed when I go to Bellini's as it seems a bit more 'posh'! 

Have you been to Bella Italia recently? What did you think?

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