Bella Italia is an Italian inspired restaurant in the Uk that tries to cater for everyone, its part of the Casual Dining group that also owns Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge, the Restaurant that we will be visiting was located in Norwich City Center. We choose a standard day, around lunchtime and used our Meerkats offer to try a selection of food.
When visiting Bella Italia I was keen to look at the decor and atmosphere, as well as the food for us and what’s available for families. We have fussy eaters in my house so I’m always on the lookout and what a restaurant has before I take the kids. I’m also keen to see how it feels and whether its the right place for my kids and for others who are near us lol.
The restaurant itself has had a refurbishment in the last few years, downstairs is the main part with the kitchen overlooking the restaurant and a minibar/coffee bar. ITs not a sit at the bar area, its where they make the drinks, next to this a Gelatto Cart with there flavourings etc.. Upstairs is Toilets and a little more space for the restaurant for I assume busy day or parties etc.. there is a disabled toilet downstairs.
It’s not a huge layout and can feel a little close together, we in fact heard most of the conversations from the table behind us lol, though they were loud as well. I would be a little worried if my kids, who are generally well behaved, would be disturbing a table near us.
After ordering the soft drinks from a normal selection including alcohol, there was Italian Beer like Birra Moretti if you prefer. We choose our dishes, we instantly regretted not ordering the Garlic Flatbread that was on the share section, as we saw others get it and it looked delightful. We received our starters, I had chosen a Calamari as it’s my favourite and I wanted to compare but while we were waiting, I was informed they didn’t have any, so I ordered Polpette instead.
This was a pork and beef meatballs served in a spicy tomato sauce with Mozzarella and Toasted Ciabatta, this was lovely, I find some times meatballs can be a dry, especially cooked in this style, but these were bang on, really nice. I’ve had Meatballs before but I could have had more of these and as main, it was overly spicy, had flavour but not overpowering. Boo opted for Garlic Dough balls, they aren’t on the actual starter menu but on them while, you wait for section, however she was able to have these instead for her starter.
These were also very nice, the butter was melted and looked more like a dipping butter sauce which is should be, but some places don’t melt it enough and its half done and you get big clumps of butter. The bread was also cooked well, again these can be overcooked and hard, but they were warm and light, felt very fresh.
For mains Boo, who is much more of a “plain jane” type girl opted for a Carbonara, this version had Tagliatelle, leeks and Crispy Planchette sitting on top. It wasn’t a huge portion which was good as we were having a 3 course meal, sometimes you get lots of pasta and not much else, as this can be the cheapest ingredient, more fill you up and looks more on the plate, but with this the balance was right, the Pasta itself had sauce running through it, there wasn’t much excess on the plate, as I thought there would be more, but there was enough sauce within the pasta to make it pleasant.
I opted for a Gnocchi Luganica, a new item on their menu, this was Gnocchi in red onion, garlic and cannellini beans in a creamy tomato sauce with Luganica Sausage also, when I ordered it I didn’t see me having the meatballs as its similar but obvious it was a change of plan at the time.
However, I wasn’t disappointed! this was delicious, as I don’t have the chance to have Gnocchi often I think enjoyed it more than normal lol, but it was cooked very well, the sauce was light and creamy, the meat in the sausage much like the starter was again full of flavour but the Gnocchi was very nice.
For deserts, I went for a Tiramisu, which is an Italian classic, but is also my favourite dessert, let alone I wanted to compare it to others. I will never say no to it, and this one was no different, however, it was very nice, one of the better ones I’ve had. It was a good-sized portion which again isn’t always the case, however, the cream the coffee combination was great, I like a strong one and the sponge was soaked in it. As for boo, she chooses the chocolate brownie, partly because she likes them but she is also a worrier, and trying something new isn’t always her first choice.
This had a generous amount of honeycomb which was there twist on it, if you are fine with it then great, if not you may struggle as there was alot, but the brownie itself was also a sizeable portion with vanilla Gelato. The good thing is it was you wanted, soft inside with a slight crisp on the outside, though the added white chocolate and no nuts made the honeycomb useful for texture.
The kid’s menu options again surprised me with the offers and choice, they have two types of offers, one for £5.99 and one for older children at £7.99, but both come with 3 Corses and a drink. If you look at £5.99 this is a very competitive price, you can a child something cheaper at a takeaway type thing or just a sandwich but you would not get the amount or the quality of food, and compared to other restaurants this is a good price. If you were weighing up the price it’s a good option, the only alternative and suggestion would be kids eat free during select hours as other restaurants have cleverly done.
The dishes have vegetarian and Gluten-free options throughout, and the same is on the kid’s menu, with Mini vegetable skewers and cheesy garlic bread, to customising pizza and pasta for the mains. But there are also chicken, fish and chips, sausage and chips and even a salad to add some simpler dishes. For dessert Gelato, Brownies, Dougnuts but also a fruit mix and Fruit Lollies. So a very good range, even for my fussy eaters there’s something for all.
Overall the experience was good, it has been a while since I have been to a Bella Italia, and I do like the option of variety, not just simply pasta, pizza and that’s about it. Sometimes you don’t want that, and with feeding the whole family the chances are at least one, or in my case, most, are all different and can be fussy.
The Service was good, even though it was really busy for random lunchtime, the food itself was delicious, every part of it for both of us was bang on. Being sat near the kitchen I was able to look at a lot of different dishes coming out and was looking forward to perhaps trying other things in the future, I even saw Afternoon tea?! which isn’t really advertised in house, mostly on the website, but it looked good.
The kid’s menu had far more choice than I expected, and I’m keen to try the kids there now I have vetted it. Like any restaurant in the world, you will have good and bad days, and I’m sure some people have had a bad experience, but for me, this was a very pleasant and somewhat surprisingly good meal, now I need to try the kids.