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Bella Italia in General

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43 Reviews
  • Great food
  • Affordable
  • Not sure of the new look
  • check out the website for the plymouth barbian make over.
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    43 Reviews
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      06.11.2014 17:15
      Very helpful


      • "Cmopetitions and promotions galore"
      • "Great meal deals"
      • "Good customer service"
      • "Great food"
      • Affordable


      • " check out the website for the plymouth barbian make over."
      • "Not sure of the new look"

      HASTA LA PASTA! Oh dear

      I like Bella Italia, I use to love it but sadly no more.[Ssh I found another restaurant don't tell anyone, I'll reveal all in another review later!]

      BUT! I would like to encourage those who haven't tried this restaurant to do so because the food is great, fresh and a good menu to choose from.

      You have:
      The main menu
      Evening Menu
      Lunch [ my favourite menu]
      Dessert menu
      Christmas party menu [which I took my work team to, two years in a row because it was so good and the price was amazing. The food great and the company fantastic, the staff there were lovely also]
      Kid menu
      Drinks menu
      Wine menu [great advice they know what product goes with dishes]
      and a Special menu that they recommend in each section.

      But the best thing about this is the menu and choices they have for
      Gluten free
      and meals under 600 calories.
      They cater for everyone and with a skip, hop and a smile.

      When you sign up for the emails they really do keep you informed and present great opportunities for you to get some friends together and head to their restaurant.
      At the moment [ today on their website] they are promoting a Christmas, three-course meal for £19.95 come on ladies and gentlemen, this is a great deal.

      Calling all STUDENTS they have a £5 deal!! You'll never go hungry again.

      You can even enter competitions and win on facebook they are social media friendly.
      And you can even buy that person you love most a gift-card [ and then tag along hehe]

      OVERALL: My experience has been nothing but positive.
      I have been going there for years for work events, meetings, dinner with family and friends and each and every time I left wishing I didn't have to.
      The atmosphere is very chilled, relaxed and you do get a sense that you're in another time and place. The decor is reflective of Italy[ in some places] but recently they are one by one, slowly but surely, changing the style and that's where for me they lost a star :(
      It no longer feels authentic and a mature place but look similar to an American diner and they seemed to be aiming just for very young people.
      It looks family friendly but the pop colours, seating and the decor overall no longer reflects the BELLA ITALIA brand we know and love and I don't feel welcome there anymore and its certainly not a place I would head to now if I had to choose.
      They show a virtual tour of a new look store online so head over and see what you think, this is just my opinion.
      I can't fault them really on any thing else. The customer service is relaxed and welcoming and they deal with anything very professionally without getting flustered or making you feel you're putting them out.
      This new look might grow on me I haven't turned my back fully on them, that would be wrong Lol. x


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      15.11.2013 21:37
      Very helpful



      tasty food just off the Royal Mile

      **There are several Bella Italia restaurants within the UK and I have dined at two. My review is based on the Edinburgh restaurant.**

      Whilst in Edinburgh recently, my fiancé and I decided to dine at Bella Italia for lunch. There are two Bella Italia restaurants in Edinburgh city centre but the first one we went to was very busy so we decided to go to the other restaurant.

      ~Bella Italia~

      54-56 Northbridge
      EH1 1SB

      0131 225 2044

      Open daily 8am until 11pm

      Bella Italia is a chain of restaurants offering Italian food.

      This particular Bella Italia is located at the corner between the Royal Mile and the North Bridge in the old town area of Edinburgh so is in a good, accessible area. The restaurant has no onsite parking but can be approached by foot or bus. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and children's meals. The website allows for tables to be booked but a potential diner arrived at the restaurant and asked to book a table for 8 and was told that they do not take bookings so I'm not sure what the situation is with reservations. Children are catered for with activity packs and the restaurant has high chairs for younger children.

      ~Exterior and Interior~

      This restaurant occupies a prime position and is easy to find. Being located on a busy street does have its downfalls as the tables are at street level and if you are given a table at the window, you will have people staring at your meals as they walk past, as we discovered. Inside, the restaurant is set over two levels. Access to the restaurant is up a step and the restaurant isn't particularly spacious so wheelchair access may be difficult. I didn't notice any disabled toilets either and the other toilets are down three flights of stairs. The toilets, I may add, were acceptably clean and tidy. The interior of the restaurant was welcoming but I didn't find it to be as nice as the Glasgow restaurant I dined at recently. I did feel the tables were a little close together so a romantic dinner wouldn't be advisable here. There is a pleasant atmosphere within this restaurant.

      ~Food On Offer~

      The full menu can be viewed on the website so I will keep this brief. The restaurant offers a few different menus for different days and times.

      *Breakfast - a lovely selection of cooked breakfasts, pastries and ciabattas from £1.95
      *Lunch (midweek 11am-5pm) - salad and garlic batons to start. Main courses include a selection of pasta and pizza dishes and also burger and salad. 1 course is £7.95 and 2 courses are £9.95
      *Main menu (available all day, everyday) - the main menu is extensive. Starters include olives, sharing platters and mini pasta dishes from £2.75. Main courses extend to various pizza dishes, calzone, pasta, burgers and steaks from £7.75.
      *Desserts - plenty of choice here including sundaes, ice cream and cheesecake from £1.95.
      *Children's menu - garlic bread followed by a choice of pizza, pasta, salad or chicken and a selection of desserts for little ones. This is well priced at £5.25 for three courses and includes a drink.
      *Vegetarians - Bella Italia offers a decent selection of vegetarian dishes across the different menus including veggie pizza, tagliatelle, mushroom burger and other pasta dishes.
      *Drinks - a well stocked bar offers a selection of alcoholic, soft and hot drinks.

      The current specials menu offers Autumn dishes and can be viewed online.

      ~Welcome and Service~

      We arrived at the restaurant around 2pm on a Saturday and were pleased to be seated right away despite the restaurant being busy. The waitress appeared to be friendly. We were given a selection of menus to look over and given time to decide which drinks we would like. I would say that the speed of the service was acceptable based on how busy the restaurant was. It was a peak time to visit and as it is the capital city, I did expect it to be busy. I informed the waitress on arrival that I had vouchers to use and these were taken happily when I wished to pay the bill.

      ~Our Meal~

      This was my second visit to a Bella Italia restaurant and my fiancés first visit. We were soaked through and very hungry when we arrived so were happy to be seated. My fiancé ordered a bottle of Budweiser whilst I opted for a bottle of Appletiser as it was a bit early for me to drink. We were aware beforehand the restaurant doesn't offer a set menu at the weekend. I do think they would do well to offer some form of set menu at the weekend but sadly, this was not to be so everything is full price and you to choose from a wider selection of dishes. Bella Italia isn't super cheap but it certainly isn't the most expensive Italian restaurant that I have ever dined in and generally, the quality of the food and the portion sizes reflect the price in my opinion.

      We decided to forget about starters as nothing, on this occasion, took our fancy. We went straight to main courses and were pleased with the selection of dishes on offer to us. I opted for carbonara as I was in the mood for a calorific pasta dish! My carbonara was presented in a large, deep bowl. The menu promised "spaghetti with smoked pancetta, egg and pecorino cheese with a splash of cream" priced at £8.65. I really enjoyed this dish. It was hot but not piping hot though it was thoroughly cooked through. The pasta had a nice bite to it and there was plenty of it. There was a decent amount of pancetta mixed in to the pasta which I was thankful for as some restaurants skimp on it! The sauce topping the spaghetti was delicious - creamy, cheesy and perfectly seasoned. I opted for a topping of paramsean cheese too. There was sufficient creamy sauce to coat the pasta well and prevent it from being dry. I would order this dish again as I found it to be tasty and filling.

      My fiancé opted for 'Pizza Cotto' which consisted of a thin pizza base topped with ham, garlic mushrooms and mozzarella. He received a hearty sized portion of pizza and a knife to slice it up himself. He enjoyed it and I had a small slice too. I do prefer a thick pizza base but the thin base was cooked to perfection with a nice texture as opposed to being too hard and crunchy. There was a plentiful amount of toppings on the pizza and it was well flavoured. The smoked ham was particularly tasty and complimented the tang of the tomato sauce base and the cheese perfectly well. This pizza was priced at £8.45 which I considered a fair price. Side portions are available (at a cost) but we didn't personally feel the need to order extra items as the portion sizes of the main dishes are really good.

      As we were treating ourselves, we ordered desserts. On my last visit to Bella Italia, I avoided the cheesecake after discovering that it had honey in it but something drew me to it this time and I couldn't resist ordering it out of curiosity! I received a good sized wedge of lemon cheesecake, a sprinkle of chocolate tagliatelle and a small pot of pouring cream. I am really glad I ordered the cheesecake in the end as it was absolutely delicious. I couldn't really taste the honey so that was a positive for me personally. The biscuit base was crumbly and buttery whilst the actual cheesecake tasted very refreshing and creamy as it was lemon flavoured. The chocolate tagliatelle was not to my liking. It was thin chocolate slices but was too rich for my tastes. The cream was delicious too and I made several "mmmm" noises whilst indulging in this after dinner treat.

      My fiancé opted for 'Molti Strati' which was similar to a cheesecake. The slice consisted of a chocolate crumble base, white chocolate mousse in the centre and a topping of caramelised orange glaze as well as some chocolate tagliatelle. Fresh pouring cream was also present on the plate. I couldn't resist a taste of this well presented dessert. Oh my goodness - nom nom! This dessert was delicious and we compared it to the taste of Jaffa Cake but a very expensive and high quality Jaffa Cake! The crumble base was sweet and chocolatey whilst the white chocolate mousse just melted in the mouth. The orange glaze gave the dessert an additional boost of rich, sweet flavour and we would both highly recommend this dessert. At £5.25 and £5.55, these desserts were well worth it and rounded off a delicious meal on a very delicious sweet note.

      ~Final Thoughts~

      We spent around an hour in the restaurant and enjoyed chatting and people watching. We thoroughly enjoyed every dish that we ordered and found the quality of the food to be excellent. The lady brought our bill over and excluding any vouchers, it came to around £34.00. This cost included two main meals, two desserts and two drinks - good value for money in my opinion. The restaurant accepts card and cash payments as well as vouchers. I embarrassed my fiancé by paying with all vouchers (except for a cash tip) and I am happy to confirm that they accept Tesco clubcard vouchers as well as Love2shop vouchers and Leisure vouchers so I paid with a mixture of all!

      I would return to Bella Italia in Edinburgh in the future as we were pleased with the food and service we received. It isn't the most accessible restaurant for those with mobility issues but other than this, it is a nice place to dine. Some dishes are quite expensive if not purchased as part of a set menu but you can decided what you fancy and fit it in to your own budget. I recommend this restaurant.

      Thanks for reading :)


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      • More +
        28.03.2013 07:33



        You don't have to eat there

        n the 2nd March 2013 my partner and I dined at Bella Italia
        We had, pane aglio mozz, Pollo alla crema, gamberi, timamisu, plus wine.

        Our plan after dining was to go to the Madden theatre for which we had ticket.

        By the time we had reached the theatre my partner had stomach cramps,
        progressively getting more and more intense. She then started to vomit
        several times.
        We went in to see the play but had to come out as she was in terrible
        pain. The manager of the theatre tried to help to no avail.

        As she was getting worse I got a taxi and took her to the hospital. By
        this time her whole body was in shaking fits as she couldn't keep
        At the hospital she was put on a intravenous drip. She was given
        liquid paracetamol and a litre of fluid to stop dehydration, through
        the drip.
        She then was given an injection to stop the incessant vomiting, Then
        tablets to ease the stomach cramps.
        Blood was taken and it was found that she had food poisoning. We
        assume this was from the prawns in your food.

        At about 2.30 am she was allowed to leave the hospital. As at that
        time of night there is no transport we had to get a taxi to take us to
        the hotel near Norwich airport.

        The rest of that night she was poorly, although she had stopped
        vomiting she still couldn't get warm.

        It was a very frightening experience, given that food poisoning can kill.

        The complaints dept don't take the matter seriously nor reply


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        07.03.2013 07:59
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        Just ok

        Just recently, my flatmate and other friends have been going out to eat quite a lot due to it getting closer to the end of university and with all of the work we have to do, we just cannot be bothered to cook sometimes. Somewhere I had never been before was Bella Italia, just because somewhere like Pizza Hut has always been a quicker option. However, we felt like a change and headed to the Bella Italia close to The Corner House cinema.

        == Address ==
        Unit G4, The Corner House, Burton Street, NG1 4DB Nottingham

        == Telephone number ==
        (0115) 950 9480

        == Location ==
        Bella Italia is extremely accessible in Nottingham as it is right in the city center. There are many buses which stop just around the corner and the restaurant is only a 15 minute walk away from the train station. Bella Italia is a part of Nottingham's The Corner House which is an entertainment and dining area/ building. Here, you can also find a cinema, casino and various other bars and restaurants.

        == My experience ==
        Bella Italia describes their restaurant as an 'Italian restaurant offering a broad menu of pizzas, pastas, risottos and meat and fish main dishes'. I absolutely love Italian food so I'm a bit shocked with myself that it has taken me this long to go for a meal here. However, before going I hadn't ever looked at a menu so I wasn't quite sure what I would be getting.

        Heading into the restaurant on a Thursday night at 6pm, it was semi-busy. The restaurant has dim lighting, plenty of tables and candles on each of them which makes for a lovely setting. There were couples, families and groups of friends occupying the tables so a whole range of different people. I really liked the look of the restaurant before even sitting down. Our friend Laura had already gotten us a table as we were running slightly late.

        Our waiter quickly came over and gave us menus and to take our drinks order once we were all sat down. We also had a couple of options with vouchers that we wanted to use and honestly, we were a bit of a pain when it came to asking about them but the two different staff members, one of which was the shift manager, were extremely helpful and patient with us. Due to having a thing with vouchers going on, we also took quite some time deciding what to eat. The restaurant offers a main menu at night as well as a special menu where you can get two courses for £9.95. However, this does only include a starter and main with very little choice. This special menu only has 4 starter options and 6 mains, which none of us wanted to eat.

        The main menu is much more extensive. There are options of Bread and Olives, Baked Pizza Breads, Sharing Platters, Starters, Pizza, Pasta, Calzones, Grills and more. I think the range of the menu was fantastic, with plenty of options for everyone. There is also a children's menu available if you are dining with kids. I'm more than happy with a margherita (£6.75) but my friends went with a Pesto Rosso e Legumi (£8.75) which is roasted red and yellow peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms, topped with mascarpone and buffalo mozzarella on a red pesto base as well as a Pizza Cotto (£7.75) which is smoked ham, mozzarella and garlic mushrooms. The side of fries cost £2.95 while a glass of coke cost £2.25.

        By the time we had finally ordered, the restaurant had cleared about a bit and near enough everyone else was already eating. We ordered three pizzas between us and a side of fries but waiting for our meals took nearly 30 minutes which I don't think this was very good considering what the restaurant was like at the time. Our order was not at all complicated and I would have thought that the wait would have been a little shorter. However, when the food did arrive, it was fantastic. The pizza bases were thin and crispy, with two out of the three pizzas loaded with toppings. Each of us finished off a whole pizza because they were so nice. The fries were disappointing though. Due to the price of £2.95, I would have imagined the serving would have been good but what we actually got was a tiny bowl full which held barely anything.

        After our mains, we asked our waiter how long the wait for desserts would be as we had a film to go and watch. He told us 5 minutes as the restaurant was pretty empty by then so we decided we had enough time to have something else. Kate and I shared a Cookie Dough Lava Cake which is 'Moist chocolate chip cookie cake with a melting chocolate middle, served warm with vanilla pod ice cream and caramel sauce' and this cost £5.50. Laura had a Godfather Banana Ice Cream Sundae which is 'vanilla and honeycomb ice cream, sliced banana and caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream, fudge pieces and a wafer curl' and that cost £5.95. We ended up waiting 15 minutes for these which we were all very annoyed about as it meant that we missed the beginning of our film. The Cookie Dough Lava Cake was only barely warm so the chocolate in the middle didn't quite melt as it should have but it was still really nice. It was just enough for two of us to share but I think a full one would have made me feel sick.

        Overall, Bella Italia was only okay for me. The waiting times were silly considering the amount of people in the restaurant at the time. We were lucky to get 20% off our meals because we're students but I don't think I would want to pay the full prices.


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          24.07.2012 14:27



          Non existent service and poor attitude

          Visited to Bella Italia Deansgate Saturday 21st July with my partner and 3 month old son. The restaurant was probably 15% full with lots of free tables.

          After getting inside we asked for a table and got refused on the grounds that there wasn't enough room to move a (single) pram. The person who refused looked to be a manager - only person in a shirt and tie.

          Obviously I can't comment on the food but the service is horrendous, surely this this must be unlawful. Would people in wheelchairs also be unwelcome? We didn't argue our cause because this soured the whole experience for us. Needless to say we wouldn't ever visit this chain ever again.

          I think that this restaurant either needs to change its table layout or its poor attitude. We pushed the pram in easily enough so I'm sure the problem is the latter of the two.


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          01.07.2012 20:13



          Thanks to Tesco Clubcard vouchers the food part of the bill is reduced by 75%.Unless you really want a steak ,try something else as it's basic rump that's really tough and tasteless,unless you add a sauce-at extra cost. Hope you like Rocket salad,as that's all you get for accompanying trimmings.The Pizza's are really basic and much too spicy. Unless you are fond of chocolate based deserts,there's not much else.The Sorbet of strawberry,rasberry and cherry sauce is usually unavailable. Good news is they do cater for gluten free diets . The Marco Polo Duck pasta is good,as is the Salmon .Cafe Rouge,which is under the same ownership,and often nearby, do a really nice Beef Bourginion.Take-aways are usually possible,though not on Saturdays.


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          05.03.2012 22:42
          Very helpful



          You'll feel like your in Italy

          We go to out local Bella Italia every month or so and often save up the Tesco Clubcard points which normally knocks off a big chunk of our food bill, but even when we don't have these we still find our selves coming back for more.

          Bella Italia is an Italian Restaurant and there are around 70 in the UK. We go to the restaurant in Stafford and the menu's and offers can vary slightly so please bear this in mind, but we have also been to one in Blackpool and London.

          The restaurants are rustic in their style. They have cafe style windows often stating dishes on them in Gold writing, and inside the tables are cosy with candles. The restaurants are rustic and homely so are not flashy and modern. Think little cafe in an Italian town rather that a flashy restaurant in Milan.

          Belle Italia have an extensive menu and there is everything from 7 selections of Pizza and a wide range of pasta, chicken, steak and classic Italian dishes such as Lasagne and Penne Ricce Marco Polo. There are also a wide range of starters, sides and deserts so you won't struggle to find something you like. The food is always fresh and piping hot when it gets to you. We haven't had a bad dish ever, and have never heard anyone complaining in the restaurant. Everything is well cooked and prepared with style. A particular favourite is the Garlic Bread sticks which are so light and airy you can eat tons! :) Pepper and Parmesan are always offered and if you ask they will supply other condiments such as vinegar or mayo.

          The food is reasonably priced with a pizza costing around £9 and a Lasagne costing £9. For the price you get a good sized meal that will fill you up. The drinks menu is more expensive so we tend to stick to soft drinks with a 250 ml glass of rose costing between £5.40 and £6.10. Likewise a 330 ml bottle of Stella setting you back £3.45.

          The customer services when you enter the restaurant is lovely. They welcome you and often offer you a choice of tables. They soon appear to take your drinks and food order and will talk you through the menu should you need assistance. I have not found 1 member of staff that wasn't helpful and polite. They will check everything is OK and offer advice but do not do this in an over the top or false manner. On a downside there often seems to be a long wait before the food arrives and in-between courses. And we have got to the point where we book an earlier table knowing we will be there a while. You can easily wait 15-20 minutes before a starter will arrive and then it can be another 20 minutes before the main arrives. Also although your first drinks order is dealt with quickly if you order another that can take forever and a round of drinks have often been completely forgotten about. If you do question the staff they do sort orders out then, but we have got used to the slow service and have come not to mind it at all. Obviously we don't go here if we are in a rush.

          Another issue is that you have to really check your bill. We have had an incorrect bill a few times where alcohol has been added, or a drinks order has never arrived but they have billed it. When we have pointed this out the staff are always more than apologetic and have sorted the bill out immediatly. I think both of these issues may be partly due to the young staff that Bella seem to favour and also the fact that we go on a Friday or Saturday night and they are always fully booked. Saying that, the young staff are very polite and helpful and well presented.

          This brings me to another point - on a Friday and Saturday you really have to book a table in advance. We have seen many couples turned away after just dropping in, in the hope of a free table.

          If you don't get wound up with slow service and are in the mood for a relaxed Italian meal Bella Italia is for you. A great menu selection, plus dish of the day and a cosy setting and some lovely staff make for a relaxing laid back experience.


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            23.02.2012 10:49




            I was persuaded to visit my local Bella Italia on the strength of a 40% off voucher last night. It was my first visit and will certainly be my last. Even with a 90% reduction it would still have been a total rip off.
            The garlic dough bread was off so we were given a substitute which consisted of a dozen slices of toasted french stick with a table spoon of garlic oil, for this they charge £5.98. Then came my lasagne, it had been placed in the oven unevenly so it had half an inch of bechamel sauce at one end and an inch uncovered burnt meat at the other, there was no hint of pasta. My wifes pizza was just as disappointing, the base was made of, well I'm not sure if it was old leather or thick blotting paper, but it was virtually inedible.
            On the whole I would rate Bella Italia as the worst eating experience ever.
            Please do not even attempt to feed this pap to an Italian.


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            02.02.2012 16:48
            Very helpful




            I visited this restaurant last week with my friend. Neither of us live in Manchester but like to meet up there and decided on this particular Sunday to meet for lunch. We wandered round the newer section of the Arndale Centre and came across this restaurant. Neither of us had ever been to any Bella Italia before so were curious about it.

            It is located on the upper floor of the new section of the Arndale and is at the far end of the shopping centre not far from the entrance to the Arndale Market. It is very convenient if you are already in the city centre particularly if you are out shopping.

            **The Restaurant**

            The restaurant is mainly made up of 'outdoor' seating which is in a cordoned off area that literally joins on to the general shopping routes, however you are actually indoors obviously but you know what I mean!! There are also some indoor tables and in addition to this there is a balcony area up above with roughly 6 tables.

            We stood at the entrance and didn't have to wait long before a waiter came over and asked how many of us there would be. We were told to choose any table in the outdoor section, which meant the indoor and balcony areas must have been closed. This seemed fair enough as it wasn't particularly busy and meant service would be more efficient. It was nice to have a choice of where to sit too. We sat right near the edge which meant people could literally walk right past out table, but this suited us quite well and the shopping centre wasn't too busy in general anyway. The overall look of the area we were in is quite basic but is what I expected. I would have liked to be seated on the balcony area ideally, but could understand why this wouldn't be open at the time we came in.

            The waiter immediately asked us what we would like to drink and we both ordered a coke. He then brought over menus and we started deciding. After just a few minutes the drinks arrived and we were asked if we had decided. We asked for a few more minutes, some might think it was rude to be asked about food that soon but I would prefer this to being left waiting forever! He returned after a further 5 minutes and we were both ready to order.

            There wasn't any particular atmosphere to speak of where we were sat as any music playing inside wasn't audible from our table and we were well spaced out from other diners. This didn't bother me with it being a lunchtime meal, however it might have felt a bit impersonal if you were to eat there at night, and I think the indoor area would be better for evening dining.

            **The Food**

            The menu features a wide variety of Italian dishes including pizzas, pastas, bakes, meat and fish dishes, salads and choice of starters and sides. The menu offered choices for every taste and included a vast choice of vegetarian dishes, which meant the friend I was with, who is vegetarian, had plenty of choice. The menus are a large sheet of card and typical of other chain restaurants like Pizza Hut etc but it was colourful, appealing, well laid out and the dishes were described very well.

            We both ordered the same main course which was the 'Rigatoni alla Norma' which was described as: "Wholewheat rigatoni, roasted aubergines and garlic in a cherry tomato sauce, with fresh basil and baby mozzarella."

            The food arrived surprisingly quickly and it looked great and was a really generous portion with plenty of pasta. The meal was nice and hot and the pasta was well cooked. The sauce was delicious and actually much better than I expected. I was worried it might be slightly bland, however it was rich and full of flavour. I could also detect the garlic but without it being overpowering.

            The sauce was the right consistency, not too thick but also not watery, and it stuck to the pasta well. There was plenty of sauce which was nice as there's nothing worse than dry pasta with a measly bit of sauce! There were plenty of aubergines in the dish and they suited the dish really well. I wouldn't have thought of having aubergines in a pasta dish like this before, however it worked very well. The aubergines were cooked and well and had absorbed all of the flavours in the dish.

            The mozzarella had been chopped and scattered onto the pasta when serving and was a really nice touch to add to the dish. I would have preferred more mozzarella, however for other diners it probably would have been considered enough. Overall the meal was of an excellent standard and there was nothing processed or fake about it, and I could definitely tell it hadn't been re-heated.

            I initially expected to struggle to finish all of the pasta, however managed to eat all of it as it was just too good to leave. However I was very full afterwards and would say that the portion should satisfy most appetites.

            Despite being quite full we both decided to order dessert too. There was a nice variety of options for dessert and in the end I decided on 'Torta Limone' which was described as: "Lemon sponge layered with lemon cheesecake and zesty lemon custard, with a pot of fresh cream" and my friend ordered the 'Cookie Dough Lava Cake' which was described as: "Moist chocolate chip cookie cake with a melting chocolate middle, served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce"

            As with the main meals, the desserts arrived in very good time and looked just like the pictures on the menu. The only thing lacking in my dessert was the pot of fresh cream, which turned out to be a squirt of whipped cream on the plate...but this didn't bother me particularly. Other than that the dessert was excellent, the lemon cheesecake was fresh, light and chilled, and the lemon custard was indeed zesty, as described. The slice I got was generous and ended up leaving some of it as it was just too much, but rather that than not have enough! I also tried my friends' dessert which comprised warm cookie dough with melted chocolate in the middle. Again this was really lovely and tasted nice and fresh.

            Prior to the visit I had always assumed that the food in Bella Italia would be a bit disappointing, as it is a chain and often things taste a bit mass produced and lack personality when eating in chain restaurants. However the meals we had were on a par with most privately owned Italian restaurants I have eaten at, and was also much cheaper.

            **The Bill**

            The main meals cost £7.50 each and the deserts were £4.95. All the food was excellent so we were happy to pay these amounts, however I felt the dessert prices were slightly too much. But the main meal price in my opinion was very reasonable, especially considering the quality of food. The bill was given to us shortly after finishing the desserts, and we didn't actually ask for it. I would probably consider this rude if I was dining at a restaurant in the evening, however I didn't really bother me on this occasion as it was a casual lunch.


            We had the same waiter throughout our time there, who actually appeared to be the only waiter on duty. He handled everything very well and was very polite and professional, and didn't seem troubled by anything we asked or the fact that we wanted longer to look at the menu etc. We received all the treatment one would expect from a visit to a restaurant and were asked if our food was ok a few minutes after starting to eat, which is a nice touch.

            We didn't need to ask anything out of the ordinary and didn't need to complain so cannot comment on how he would have handled these situations.


            The furniture and floor in the restaurant area looked very clean, as were all glasses, cutlery and plates we used. This made me trust the kitchen and trust that the food was being prepared in a clean surrounding. We didn't use the toilet facilities so can't comment on these.

            **Overall Opinion**

            Overall I would definitely return to this restaurant and would be very curious to try more options on the menu. We experienced good efficient service and excellent quality food which was on a par with none-chain Italian restaurants I have eaten at. I don't have any children however think this restaurant would be very accommodating and well suited to families and that children would easily find food choices on the menu to suit them.


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              07.11.2011 23:39
              Very helpful



              Pleasant and I would probably go back.

              WHERE TO DINE?

              My youngest daughter has recently left home to study at university. My husband and I and the daughter in question felt we would give her a few weeks to settle and find new friends before visiting. We did this until a few weeks ago when we felt the time had come for a visit to renew our acquaintance!
              Two of her siblings had prior commitments on the day arranged and so there were five of us included in this outing; myself, my husband, our youngest son and his girlfriend and, of course, the daughter who we were going to see.
              Four of us set off one Sunday morning. Fortunately my daughter's university and its accommodation aren't too far away meaning that we can visit for one day. Because of this we thought it would be nice to collect her from her accommodation and then take her out to lunch before returning home.

              CAR PARKING

              My daughter is becoming familiar with the Ealing area of London and suggested that Ealing Broadway would be a good place to dine and assured us we would find a parking space easily enough in this area. During the short journey from her accommodation to Ealing Broadway my daughter asked if we could eat at Bella Italia which has long been a favourite of hers and we said we would go there if we could park near enough.
              She was right about parking being easy. We parked our car in one of a choice of several car parks in the area and followed our youngest to Bella Italia.

              AL FRESCO?

              On approaching the restaurant we saw there was some seating outside. As this was the time of this country's incredibly lovely Indian summer we could have dined al fresco but, after toying with the idea, everyone seemed to prefer to dine inside.

              THE INTERIOR

              When we entered Bella Italia we were surprised that it wasn't even half full and the time was now about two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. In our home area most restaurants and pub restaurants would have a considerable wait for a table if it hadn't been booked prior to arrival. But we noticed there were many places in this area to eat.

              We were greeted by a female member of staff who seemed to be doing everything in the actual restaurant. We were given a choice between two or three tables which were set for a party of our size, or more. We chose a long central table which, I think was set for eight people. Some other tables were reserved for diners who hadn't yet arrived. There were a few other occupied tables.
              Our table was lovely as it had an empty decorative champagne bottle containing helium filled balloons in the colours of the Italian flag and with streamers, which made our table look very festive.


              The menu here is good as there is an extensive choice for meat eaters and a good choice for vegetarians too. Also the menu highlights vegetarian options rather than having a separate section and, as there were enough meat free dishes on offer, this worked well, I thought.

              *I liked the fact that the menu also highlighted dishes suitable for those with gluten intolerance.

              * It also shows certain healthy choices from the menu which are under 600 calories per dish.

              As expected from an Italian restaurant Bella Italia offer a good choice of pizzas ranging from the ever popular Margherita priced at 6.75 to the Carne Mista at £9.25. This is a pizza topped with Spiced Italian pepperoni, salami, smoked ham and smoked pancetta.

              There was a great choice, as to be expected form an Italian restaurant, of pasta dishes from good old spaghetti Bolognese (£8.50) to a less well known , well to me at any rate, dish called Bucatini Gamberoni (£9.95) Which is (and I quote from the website):

              "(a thick spaghetti with a hole like a drinking straw), 6 succulent king prawns sautéed with garlic and chilli in a spicy pomodoro sauce."

              Also on the menu were fish dishes such as sea bass £12.95) and some interesting sounding salads.


              I don't eat meat and so I always have a good look at what's on offer for non-meat eaters like me. I felt that the starters and main menu offered plenty of choice.

              As already explained the menu doesn't have a separate vegetarian section but I found there was plenty to choose from the main menu and was pleased that all dishes suitable for vegetarians were clearly labelled. My son's girlfriend (also a vegetarian) felt that there was a good selection for the non-meat eater.

              OUR CHOICES

              We were all given a menu along with a smaller supplementary menu showing specials of the day.) Bella Italia's Piatto del Giorno shows various daily dishes available every day from 12 o'clock until seven o'clock pm and these are priced reasonably, in my opinion, at £5.95.

              We began our lunch by ordering drinks which consisted of a two glasses of red wine (Merlot - Biagio, Veneto to be more precise) a Fanta orange, sprite and a cola. Another cola was also ordered during the meal.

              We decided not to have starters but instead to choose some starters and sides to have as accompaniments to our main meal and to share these.

              The sides/starters selected were:

              A large portion of dough balls served with a garlic butter dip, fries, zucchini fritters served with a garlic dip.

              The fries were nice but there weren't many of them. The zucchini fritters were disappointing as they were rather bland, we thought.

              Our main meals were:

              An Americano burger served with French fries and a side salad. The burger bun was decorated with a small paper Italian flag. It looked nice but hubby said it was a little dry and he didn't think it was worth its price of, £9.25.

              Lasagne Porcini was chosen by my son's girlfriend. This is a meat free option of a lasagne of wild mushrooms with a sauce of mushrooms, mascarpone & pecorino cheese, layered with fresh spinach and finished off with a topping of melted mozzarella. Again this looked nice but was a little too rich (so I was told) after a while.

              The meat lasagne chosen by my son proved a good choice.

              My choice was Rigatoni alla Norma, a pasta dish containing roasted aubergines, garlic and cherry tomatoes, basil and pieces of mozzarella. This was a nice choice too.

              My daughter chose her all time favourite of spaghetti bolognese and said that it was lovely.


              The ladies toilets were well equipped and clean and my husband endorsed the good standard of cleanliness also found in the men's toilets.

              DISABLED DINERS

              This restaurant provides disabled access.

              A braille menu is available.


              The lady who waited upon us seemed to be one of only two staff in the restaurant (excluding kitchen staff who, not surprisingly, I didn't see) and she served all of our dishes as well as drinks, cleared the table and also in between waiting at tables, she manned a reception desk sorting out bills, answering the telephone and taking payments.

              We found this versatile member of staff to be both friendly and polite. She would appear discreetly every so often over the course of our meal to ask if everything was alright and did we need anything else etc. She was knowledgeable about the menu and answered any queries that we had.

              Food, drinks etc were served in a good amount of time and all dishes came up around the same time.


              This branch of Bella Italia is set in a busy location near to Ealing Broadway station which provides both underground tube on the central line and mainline national; rail service. There are many buses serving the area and a taxi rank by the station.

              It is a popular area for entertainment and shopping with several shopping centres close by.

              I noticed several car parks which serve this area.


              36 New Broadway
              W5 2XA

              OPENING HOURS

              Mon - Sat:
              9.00am - 12.00am
              9.00am - 11.30pm


              Telephone: 020 8579 7089


              The lunch for five adults came to £72. I don't think this is expensive but then again, I don't feel all dishes were really that special. I would say value wise it was reasonable but could be improved upon.


              The Ealing branch of this large chain provided us with a pleasant dining experience. The atmosphere was nice even though it was quiet on the day that we ate here. The food was quite good and of not too bad sized portions although the portions of chips which my husband had and the side order could have been larger.

              The space between tables was good and our table was comfortable. I felt everything was clean which of course is of the utmost importance when eating out but, both myself and my husband felt that it didn't quite measure up to other Italian restaurants that we have dined at. However I would probably still dine here again.


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                17.09.2011 21:08
                Very helpful
                1 Comment



                Not recommended!

                I love Italian food and living in Leeds there is an abundance of Italian restaurants. Recently I have eaten at a Bella Italia restaurant, after cashing in some of my Tesco vouchers. I had £100 worth of food vouchers, so I decided to take my parents out for a meal.


                The atmosphere was pleasant and all the tables were candle lit. The restaurant itself was quite dirty; there was grime all over the skirting boards and sauce splashes on the table legs. We were shown to our seats by a member of staff and had our drinks order promptly taken. We ordered a bottle of wine but had to request fresh glasses as two out of the four had lipstick on. Not a big deal though, mistakes happen and we were not out to be really picky about the place.
                Bella Italia is very child friendly; they have a good children's menu available along with balloons and kids packs.


                There is a reasonable range of drinks including some reasonably priced bottles of wine.


                The food is typical of an Italian chain restaurant; lasagne, various pasta dishes, pizza and a couple of meat meals. There is a good range in the menu for vegetarians.
                The menu does not wow me or stand out in any way and neither do the prices. £10 for a pasta dish, which is made from tasteless bleached chicken and spinach in a dull salty cream sauce, is slightly too much. Luckily, we had the vouchers. These took away some of the pain of having to part with good money for such poorly constructed food. My parents ordered a pizza each, my partner a steak and I had a chicken pasta dish.
                The pizzas looked nice and were really tasty though. My mum had a duck pizza which was very appetising.
                There is a good selection of starters and desserts and they serve good coffee.


                The staff were standoffish and rude while they went about their duties. My mum fell over on a wet floor by the toilets that did not have any signage up. This is a clear violation of health and safety regulations. The staff continued to work around her whilst she was laid on the floor and it was a few minutes before the manager came over to assist her. As my mum was in shock, she started slurring her words and could not keep her head up. (we think she was about to faint at this point!) I saw her on the floor and rushed over. The manager sternly asked me how much she had had to drink and then said she had had enough!
                I got quite angry and told him that she had only had a glass of wine, which was true! She did start to come round and started talking more sense. We managed to stand her up and she walked back to the table. The manager was very arrogant to presume that a person is drunk just because they fall on a slippy floor. Once the manager comprehended that she had genuinely fallen, the apologies kept flowing and we got offered free coffees and deserts.
                How did this impact on my view of Bella Italia?
                We all felt quite disappointed with the staff for their lack of empathy, however they did promptly bring us our food and drinks. Perhaps Bella Italia employ robots rather than decent human beings!

                *Overall feeling*

                The restaurant serves poor imitation Italian food and the service leaves a lot to be desired. The restaurant was not very clean and clearly the standards had slipped; leaving a wet floor with guests around. I wrote a letter to head office, detailing the events of the night and received a set of vouchers to return. I sold these on eBay as I do not want to return to such a restaurant. The image of the brand has really been tarnished now and my dining experience was ruined. A civilised, pleasant meal was turned into a disaster!
                I would not recommend this restaurant as I feel that there are much better establishments to spend your hard earned money on.


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                  26.04.2011 03:15
                  Very helpful



                  Not a great place to eat

                  I love Italian food, and for many years I have gone to the same Italian resturant. My friend wanted to arrange a meal at a local Bella Italia for recent birthday celebration, and I personally thought it sounded like a brilliant idea so I went along for a good meal and a good night out.

                  Bella Italia is a chain of Italian resturants, and there are around 70 of them in total in the UK. I had never been to one until recently, but from what I had seen, it looked to be a nice place, with authentic italian food and an authentic Italian feel to it as well.

                  When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted and seated by a young Polish waitress, who was quite sweet but really didn't seem like she wanted to be there. She took our drink orders and went off to sort the drinks out. Our drinks were bought to the table by a different waitress, who this time was an English girl, but she was rude and arrogant!

                  I must say I was not too impressed with the menu, as the font was quite small and hard to read, and due to the background color of the menu, the writing just blended into it on a lot of places. There also was not much of a great selection or variation in the food available, and I was a little disappointed with the place already! One of the friends who was eating with us is a vegetarian, and it was because of this we found there to be no Vegetarian section on the menu, just a small printed paragraph on the side saying to ask for vegetarian "alterations" to the food!! This annoyed me quite greatly, and due to only the rude member of staff being able to speak fluent English, my friend ended up having a plain pizza.

                  Once we had ordered, our food didn't actually take very long to arrive, although the restaurant was not very busy. The food we recieved looked very nice, and was well presented on the plates. The portion sizes were a little bit over normal, and we were offered the usual Parmesean Cheese and black pepper. Sadly, the food didn't taste as wonderful as it looked. Don't get me wrong it was nice, and I enjoyed my meal, but there was nothing special about it, and everyone on the table agreed. I found my meal to be enjoyable, but a little bit bland, even with pepper and cheese added to it.

                  I was expecting to have at least a hint of garlic in my meal, as it is a generally garlic meal I ordered, but I did not taste any garlic and I was wondering as to the "authenticity" of the Italian recipies they claimed to use in their cooking. I also do not believe that the food was worth the high price charged for it, and I do not think I will be eating in Bella Italia again.

                  The restaurant itself was quite nice, clean, tidy and had a good decor throughout. The staff were mediocre. They managed to do the basics of their job, by taking orders and bringing the food and drinks to the table, but none of them were particularly polite, and only one of them had a firm grasp of the English language! I am all for immigration and equality, but I would like to be understood by people who are taking my order! I think the food in the restaurant is highly over priced, and it is not worth the price you are charged. I am annoyed with the fact they add a service charge to your bill also, if I believe the service was good enough to pay extra for, I would have left a tip, do not force me to pay extra for your shoddy staff!

                  I personally will not be going back to a Bella Italia restaurant, and I would not really recommend them to anyone. I will give them a 3 out of 5 stars, as they are not terrible but nothing great either.


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                  01.03.2011 17:27
                  Very helpful
                  1 Comment



                  Decent enough Italian restaurant by Durham river side

                  The Bella Italia chain used to be known as Bella Pasta and was established in the UK in the early nineties. Owned by the Tragus Group who also own Cafe Rouge and Strada, there are currently 84 Bella Italia restaurants dotted around the UK. This is a review of the Bella Italia in Durham.

                  Heading into Durham City from the bus or train station will take you across Framwellgate Bridge. Look down from here and you will see the Bella Italia. The building juts out over the river, and diners can be seen through the windows when you look down from the bridge. I always think it looks very inviting. It's situated underneath another restaurant, (Cafe Rouge), with the main access being via stone steps that lead down to the river banks.

                  I've visited twice this year. On the first visit in early January I was pleased to be directed to a table by the window looking out on the river, but disappointed to realise that the corner was rather draughty. A pleasant enough place to sit in Summer no doubt, but for that visit I put my coat back on.

                  I obviously wasn't too perturbed by this though as I found myself there again last weekend with my husband and daughter. We arrived at 5.30 on a Saturday without a reservation and were told that they were fully booked from 7pm, so we could have a table as long as we were aware it would be needed by then. This time we were directed to a more central area and there were no problems with the temperature.

                  The decor is eclectic and has a somewhat cluttered feel. There are lots of different sized pictures on the walls. Framed photographs, paintings and maps jostle with wall lights, shelving, and various kitchen implements. Candles in bottles on all the tables add to a friendly, informal and cosy atmosphere. I imagine it would be quite loud when full as there are lots of tables close together in a fairly small space. (It was about half full on both of my previous visits, each of which were at a similar time on a weekend). We were in the central raised area which has a warmer feel to it than the window seating area where I am put in mind of a conservatory. There is also outside seating, but I've never visited on a day warm enough to try this.


                  We skipped starters. My husband and I shared a pizza for our main; the Pesto Rosso e Legumi, (£8.50) with a side order of chips, sorry fries, (£2.50). Described as "A feast of roasted red and yellow peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms, topped with mascarpone and buffalo mozzarella on a red pesto base," the pizza was perhaps more oily and salty than necessary, but it was also very palatable. The toppings were plentiful and the crust was nicely crisped and tasty. The fries were good, thick and well cooked, but there weren't many of them, not really enough to share.

                  Dessert for both of us was Gelati, (ice cream). Three scoops with a wafer curl for £3.95. I chose three different flavours; chocolate, toffee and vanilla. It was good ice cream, but nothing amazing.

                  We chose soft drinks, I had an Appletiser, (£1.95), and my husband had a generous pot of Earl Grey, (£1.75).

                  There was plenty of vegetarian choice on the menu, although I did notice the lack of a V symbol which most menus use. This meant I had to study each individual meal description to check for meat. The dishes were mainly pasta and pizzas, lots of Italian bread on there too and an Italian wine list.


                  Once seated our daughter was swiftly handed a tub of crayons and a children's menu with activities on it. The only problem here was that the menu was on the other side of the activity sheet which meant I had to prize it up from the table and interrupt her colouring in order to see it.

                  A main course with dessert and drink for children is priced at £5.25. There's a range of soft drinks; squash, fruit juices, fizzy drinks and milk, (nice to see the ubiquitous Fruit Shoot absent from the list). A decent six choices for the main meal, we opted for Freddie's Fish Fingers; chunky fish fingers with chips, peas and sweetcorn. Desserts were a choice of a scoop of ice cream or fruit flavoured jelly. The helping of ice cream was quite meagre, but I think one scoop is that's all that's needed really, especially after eating a big meal, (says she who ate three). My daughter ate all of her food, (except for the peas but that can't be blamed on the restaurant), and claimed it was very nice.

                  Service - The service was good on our last visit, attentive but laid back. On my previous visit I recall it being a bit too laid back, as I found it a bit difficult to attract attention. On our way out my daughter looked wistfully at some balloons attached to furnishings, at which our waitress asked if she would like a balloon, undid one and smilingly handed it to her. Nice touch.

                  Toilets - The women's were small, clean and well decorated with photo's, plants and a nice hand wash. Only two cubicles so it's possible there could be a queue when the restaurant is full. There was a fold down baby change mat in here too, which would make it very cramped if in use.


                  Personally, an Italian restaurant isn't usually my first choice, because I find the style of food easy to make at home and prefer something a little different if eating out, but if you want to visit an Italian restaurant in Durham I have no complaints about Bella Italia. Although nothing amazing, the food was tasty, filling and reasonably inexpensive and the riverside setting couldn't be more perfect.

                  ~Further Details~

                  Customers with Disabilities - There is no step-free access to this restaurant for wheelchair users. There are braille and large print menus.

                  Seats: 88

                  Opening hours: Sun & Mon 10.00 - 22.30 Tues - Sat 10.00 - 23.00

                  20-21 Silver Street
                  County Durham
                  DH1 3RB
                  Tel: 0191 3861060

                  You can book online at the website: www.bellaitalia.co.uk/location/Durham


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                    15.02.2011 13:24
                    Very helpful



                    A great family friendly restaurant at a reasonable price

                    Having visited most of the restaurants on offer at our local out of town retail area (Fife for anyone who wants to know locality) we decided we fancied trying Bella Italia for a change. Before deciding to go ahead I went online and checked out their menu. Having 2 kids who like completely different types of food means that we need there to be a fairly decent kids menu but I don't really want to compromise on the adults' food to achieve this. The menu looked fine for all involved. I noticed you could book a table on line so gave this a go and found it really easy and liked the text message confirmation. On more than one occasion we have booked a table at various restaurants over the phone and then turned up and have been told there is no booking - this seemed like a good way of avoiding this! Finally I requested one of the online vouchers they were advertising. We were all set.

                    ~~The restaurant~~
                    Our group was made up of 3 adults and 2 children. We arrived at our set time and were seated quickly. It became immediately obvious that this is a kiddie orientated place which is great when you have a five and two year old. The staff seemed to be trying to sit the families together and put couples at another area (which I bet they appreciated especially given it was Valentines weekend!!!!). The interior of the restaurant was nice - bright and airy with loads of stuff for the kids to ask about etc. Your usual range of 'lets make this place look like an authentic Italian restaurant'. I like booths when I'm out with the kids - you can pin them in more easily but there weren't any at our restaurant and we were at a table with normal seats. The kids were given great wee activity packs which kept them amused for a good amount of time. You got playing cards you could colour in, stickers and a wee board game and a pack of crayons. Both kids were happy with their packs. The table was also a good size which is really important with kids, crayons, drinks and hot dishes!

                    ~~Food and drink~~
                    So firstly we ordered drinks. There was the usual selection and everyone was quite happy when their choice arrived. I won't bore you with going through exactly what food everyone ordered but just give you an overview. There was an excellent selection and in the main everyone was more than happy with what they had. The portion sizes were great. The starters disappeared quickly and my five year old in particular was very impressed with his garlic dough stick.

                    For our main course we ordered a big bowl of pasta (listed as a dish for 2 to share) plus a pizza to share between the adults and this went down a treat with everyone and was a great option. I always want what someone else has ordered so eating this way lets me try more than one thing. My one gripe with the food was the kids food. My oldest decided on fish fingers and chips (very Italian!) and they were great, coming with loads of peas and sweetcorn. However my two year old loves pasta and so we got him a cheesy tomato and chicken dish and it was just odd. It was spaghetti which was coated with a sort of cheesy sauce and then had breaded chicken shredded on top but it was very dry and not at all what I expected. He wouldn't eat it and to be honest I don't blame him - I tried it and it was seriously dry and bland. He was more than happy with the adult pasta though. The adults skipped puddings but the kids both wanted some. The options were limited here with ice cream or jelly. Both went for ice cream and they got one very small scoop of ice cream each (which did not go down well as both wanted 2 different types). However the small amount of ice cream they got was very nice.

                    Overall the cost was very reasonable. The kids meal was £5.25 for a drink, main course and pudding plus you could also get cucumber and carrot dips (which we didn't go for). A little more than you might pay elsewhere but still not bad value. The price of the adults food was what you would expect. At this point I should have used my voucher to get the kids food free and therefore be very impressed but the thing never arrived. I checked my email a couple of times but it never turned up which is a bit frustrating. We had a voucher already so used this instead but I think I would have been a bit annoyed otherwise. Another option would be using your Tesco vouchers and we may well try this next time.

                    I really enjoyed our meal. The whole experience took just over 2 hours and this was mainly due to the speed of service which was not quick. We weren't in a rush and our kids actually behaved but it could be a bit of an issue if your children were playing up or you were in a rush. The staff were helpful and friendly. The atmosphere was relaxed and laid back which is great in a place which is family friendly - it did not have that frenetic feel you get at some places where you always half expect a large bear to appear singing happy birthday. The food in general was lovely. I really liked booking online which I think is a nice touch. We will definitely be going back.

                    Overall four stars - the lack of my email voucher and the kids food was enough of a negative for me to take away a star. Overall though a great place to take the kids if you fancy something a wee bit different to the other chain restaurants.


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                      06.02.2011 08:20
                      Very helpful



                      An italian restuarant with a good range of dishes

                      Me and my boyfriend went to Bella Italia in York for the first time a few weeks ago. There are some Italian restaurants in York that I really love, so I probably wouldn't normally choose Bella Italia, but my mum gave us one of her £20 Tesco clubcard vouchers, which can be used at Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, and a few other places. As neither of us had tried Bella Italia before, we decided to go there.

                      We arrived at around 7:30pm, so it was a prime time for evening dining. Despite this, we were greeted as soon as we walked through the door and asked where we would like to sit, as there were still several tables available. We strongly requested to be anywhere but near the door, as it was a very bitter, cold, evening! We were taken over to a small table for two towards the back of the restuarant, so nowhere near the door, which we were pleased about. We both thought the interior of Bella Italia was pleasant and attractive, with a cozy feel. It was fairly basic, with dark wooden floors and regtagular tables made from a lighter wood, each one decorated with a fairly standard candle with a wine bottle as it's holder. A few pictures covered the plain cream walls, and although it was all very simple, the dimly lit lights and faint music created a romantic and chilled atmosphere which we enjoyed.

                      We were given menus, and after a couple of minutes were asked if we would like to order drinks. We both ordered soft drinks which arrived quickly and were standard as they were branded beverages. We were then left a while longer to peruse the menu and choose our meals. There was a fairly good range of pizzas, pastas and other italian dishes on the menu, as well as several starters to choose from too. We decided to go for starters and mains, as a lot of the things on the menu sounded nice. We were having trouble deciding what dishes to go for, and not only that but we were chatting as we read the menu. This led to us taking quite a while to make our decisions, and we felt the waiter was getting a little impatient! He came over several times and we felt we were being a little rushed in our decisions.

                      We finally settled on our meals, my boyfriend went for a garlic bread starter and spagetti with meatballs for his main course. I opted for cheese melts for a starter followed by a ciabatta for my main course. After ordering, we waited about ten minutes for our starters, which I feel is pretty average for a starter. My cheese melts arrived with some salad and a balsamic vinegar dressing, and the whole thing was delicious. The portion was what I would call a good size for a starter-not too stingy but not too filling before the main course. The cheese melts themselves were small pieces of a mix of cheeses which were coated in breadcrumbs, there were three or four of them and they were about the same size as golf balls only not as round. They were nice and crunchy on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside, and the tangy balsamic vinegar and fresh lettuce complimented them perfectly. My boyfriend enjoyed his garlic bread, describing it as warm and crunchy, but still moist and not too dry. No complaints with the starters then!

                      After we had finished, we waited about five minutes, until a lady came and took our plates away and asked us if we would like some more drinks. Our original waiter appeared to have forgotten about us and seemed too busy with other tables. We ordered some more drinks with the new waitress we had aquired, who was extremely friendly, chatty, and efficient. After another ten minute wait our main courses arrived. As I said I ordered a ciabiatta, which came served with fries, and was filled with tomato, chicken, and mozerella. I wouldn't normally order something like a ciabatta for an evening meal, as I feel it's more of a lunch time choice. However, I am quite a fussy eater and there wasn't many other dishes on the menu that I fancied, despite the fairly good choice available! My main course of ciabatta and fries was very average. There was nothing too bad about it, but I wasn't blown away either. It was the sort of meal I would expect to pick up quite a lot cheaper in a cafe or canteen. The food was also slightly dry, and didn't have many strong tastes and flavours, I did enjoy it but it was just a bit too bland for me to be really impressed by it.

                      My boyfriend had ordered spagetti dish which involved meatballs and a tomato based sauce. He enjoyed his dish quite a lot and said he would give it 7/10. He said the meatballs were slightly spicy but not too strong, just enough to give a slight kick, and the pasta was cooked to perfection, although the tomato sauce was a little too runny. All in all he was fairly impressed with the dish and would eat it again.

                      After we has finished we again had to wait a while for anyone to notice us, despite the fact that the restaurant hadn't got that much busier than when we had first arrived. Our original waiter finally remembered us, and asked us if we would like a dessert menu, to which we said yes please. No matter how full me and my boyfriend are we always get the dessert menu, even if we don't order anything from it we at least have to have a look!

                      On this occasion I went for Cioccolato Diavola and my boyfriend decided to just order a hot chocolate as he felt a little ill (he already felt ill before we went to the restaurant, it wasn't because of the food there!) Anyway he can't have been that ill as he did manage two courses and hot chocolate! We ordered our desserts and mine arrived about five minutes later. To be honest it was possibly the nicest dessert I've ever eaten in my life. It was a square of moist chocolatey delicious kind of sponge (but way moister than normal sponge) and on top there was a layer of a melted chocolate substance with bits of praline in it. It was served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was rich and had an amazing texture, and although I was full I had to eat it all!

                      I had already scoffed my dessert, when I realised that my boyfriend still didn't have his hot chocolate! We couldn't even get the attention of our waiter who seemed to be flying madly round the restaurant trying to serve everyone (except us.) After quite a while, the waitress who had taken our starter plates away came over to see if we were ok, and we explained we'd been waiting a while for this hot chocolate, which she apologised for and produced within minutes. Unfortunately due to her quick hot chocolate making skills, she appeared to have forgotten to use hot water, as the hot chocolate arrived lukewarm.

                      We waited ages and ages for someone to come over to us again as we wanted to pay the bill and leave. We were pretty dissapointed with the service by now, it started out well but was going drastically downhill as the meal went on. Eventually the waiter came over and we requested the bill, which he went and got for us. We wanted just to pay by card there and then, but as soon as he had given it to us he swooped off again, leaving us with another long wait! Finally we managed to pay and left the restaurant, with mixed feelings on the experience!

                      The bill itself came to around £50, £20 of which we paid with our Tesco voucher. Even if we had paid the full £50 I think it would have been a fairly reasonable price, but we were certainly glad to only pay £30 due to the bad service towards the end, and my very average main course. I forgot to mention before also, that despite being given a table away from the door, we were quite cold throughout the meal, and had to keep our jackets on for some parts of it. I did tell our waiter we were cold but there was nothing he could really do about it.

                      All in all, I think our meal at Bella Italia was more positive than negative. My starter and dessert were amazing, and my boyfriend enjoyed his food too. The service started well, and I said it got worse, but they did appear to be short staffed, so I would not neccessarely say this was the waiter's fault. We would probably return again, but it wouldn't be somewhere I'd be going to regularly. Having the Tesco vouchers definitely made the experience better! I think Bella Italia is nice for a romantic meal, but is probably quite nice for families too, as it was quite relaxed in there, and I noticed a large box of children's toys and books under the stairs, as well as a kids section on the menu.


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