Bella Italia in theory is a great idea: affordable ‘home-style’ Italian food that is just fancy enough for you to wear a nice shirt, but won’t break the bank if you’re the one paying. I think generally it walks this line quite well, the interior is bright and colourful during the day relatively dimly lit in the evening, mostly wood panelling, there are candles stuck in empty wine bottles and I spent about £26 on a three course meal.
I think the only qualm I had with the place before I ate their food, was that there were so many things on the menu. I remember quite a famous chef (or my dad, can’t really remember which) saying that:
“If there is a lot of options on the menu then it won’t be as good as if a restaurant only has a few things, as the latter has less to remember, and, hopefully, perfect.”
On to the food, then. For my starter I had their Calamari, which, I must say, I really enjoyed. Although I don’t necessarily think the portion was worth £7, it was a good amount, very crisp, well seasoned, not incredibly chewy as some squid can be, and the mayonnaise, although lacking in garlic, really worked for me. I enjoyed this a lot and shamelessly fished (no pun intended) the crumbs from the bottom of the deep-fat-fryer-style basket. The leaf was unnecessary token green, limp and warm.
My dinner-mate had the ‘Polpette’ which was also really nice. For £6.30 he got around 10 meatballs. The sauce wasn’t too spicy, but had a good kick, the meatballs themselves were lovely, and again, the portion sizing was spot on (although he does have a large stomach.) He said that the toast could have been improved by just being normal bread for scooping purposes but otherwise he was happy. I found the meatballs nice and herby.
For the mains, I ordered a new item on the menu: ‘Pollo Robiola.’ The only problem is, there was no pollo (chicken). This plate of pasta was average. It tasted nice, but pretty bland, it was a good portion, and the waitresses freshly grate cheese on top for you, should you so wish. However, missing out an ingredient that features in the title was disappointing, and although I didn’t dislike it, I felt that a kick was missing that couldn’t have been solved by the garden of rocket that seems to be trendy at the moment. It was just nice.
My boyfriend had their carbonara, which he was more pleased with, tasted good, and my mum would be proud because there was no puddle of purely cream-based sauce (or at least it wasn’t wholly cream, it had seen an egg.) The interesting dimension to it was the cooked leek, which I enjoyed after thinking I wouldn’t. The pasta was well cooked, and it was tasty. Having to cut up crispy pancetta placed on top of the dish for beauty purposes was difficult, but not really something we can complain about.
Finally, we both had ice-cream for dessert, which is pretty much made-to-order. You can choose flavours, toppings and sauces, and it was pretty nice. We chose four flavours, and the only disappointing one was the honeycomb which didn’t have any pieces in it, which I had expected, but the popping candy made up for it, as I had never had it before, and let me tell you: it’s an experience.
All in all it was an enjoyable meal. All portions were decent sized, the restaurant were under-staffed it seemed but friendly, and although the restaurant seemed a bit empty for a Sunday evening, there was a pleasant amount of people there. We enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend to friends (but steer them clear of the Pollo Robiola!)
I would rate it 3.8/5*.
This is the Loughborough website: https://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/italian-restaurant/loughborough/
This is the general Bella Italia website: https://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/
Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional food writer or critic (a girl can dream). I just write down my personal thoughts and opinions. I do not wish to offend anyone, nor am I being paid for this post. It is merely here for your enjoyment and, perhaps, enlightenment.
The featured image was taken from the Bella Italia website. The rest are my own.