“ Address: 96 Hope Street / Glasgow / G2 6PH „
Last week, I went in to Glasgow for a concert with my friend Charlene. We decided to make a night of it and go for a meal. Normally when we go out together, we opt for somewhere that offers Italian cuisine and on this occasion, we decided to dine at Bella Italia.
~Bella Italia, Glasgow~
96 Hope Street
0141 221 5321
This branch of Bella Italia is just around the corner from Central Station and a few minutes walk from the shops. There is no onsite parking though there are plenty of pay car parks in the City Centre. It is easily reached by both bus, foot and train. This restaurant is open 7 days a week.
Monday - Thursday and also Sunday : 0900-2230hrs
Friday and Saturday : 0900-2300hrs
Bella Italia is a chain of restaurants and the website states this restaurant is 'a traditional Italian restaurant offering a broad menu of pizzas, pastas, salads, grills and more'.
The exterior of the restaurant is pleasant and they do offer al fresco dining. Inside, the restaurant decor is very warm and welcoming thanks to the choice of paint and accessories used as well as the traditional wooden features. The dining area isn't huge and I found the tables to be a little close together for my personal liking as well as being quite small. The restaurant was clean throughout and the bar and kitchen area are visible. I wouldn't say that this restaurant is particularly wheelchair friendly.
There isn't much room to move between tables and the toilets are located down two flights of stairs with no disabled toilet being present or baby changing as far as I could tell. The other Bella Italia (in Braehead) is, however, wheelchair friendly. It seems a common thing for toilets to be downstairs in Glasgow restaurants but this is worth keeping in mind if you have mobility issues. I did pay two visits to the little girls room (exercising off the pudding) and found the toilets to be immaculate and well stocked with the essentials. High chairs are available on request.
~Food on Offer~
This branch of Bella Italia offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, Autumn Specials, desserts and kids menus. The full range of menus can be viewed online so I will just give a brief run down of what is on offer.
*Breakfast - porridge, pastries, pancakes and cooked breakfast (from £1.95)
*Lunch (available midweek from 1100-1700hrs) - starters of salad, bread batons or toasted ciabatta. Mains of burger, various pasta dishes, pizza, risotto and salad. This set menu is priced at £6.95 for one course or £8.95 for two courses.
*Main menu - a selection of breads, olives, pizza bread and soup (from £2.45). The selection of main courses is varied and includes various types of pizza, calzone, pasta including carbonara and bolonaise, steak and chicken breasts, burgers and Bella favourites such as stew and seabass. Vegetarians have the choice of a few dishes including mushroom burger and tagliatelle. Main course dishes are priced from £7.95.
*Kids menu with an activity pack - veg or breadsticks to start followed by a selection of dishes including pizza, oven baked chicken and lasagne to name a few and finishing off with ice pop, a cone or mini doughnuts. The kids menu is just £5.25 for three courses.
*Desserts - a choice of 15 desserts to suit all appetities including tiramisu, cheesecake, sundaes and mini treats. Desserts are priced from £1.95.
Bella Italia also offer a range of hot, cold and alcoholic drinks. I found the range of drinks on offer to be good but expensive as you would expect. An Appletiser was £2.35 and a fizzy juice was £2.25. Beer was around £3.70 a bottle and cocktails at around £4.95 a glass.
We arrived at the restaurant at around 4pm and it was quite quiet at the time but the tables soon began to fill up shortly after we arrived. We were seated near the window which I prefer. We found our waitress to be friendly and efficient. There were only two people serving and they seemed to cope well at half capacity but I did find it difficult trying to catch their attention to ask for the bill at the end as they were really busy. The food and drinks were brought to the table in good time. Our tummies were given time to settle between each dish but not to the point where I started to wonder where my food actually was.
We were given both the main menu and the lunch time menu as we had arrived before 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon. We ordered a diet Coca Cola each and another one each further in to our meal. I found the main menu to be excellent and there is definitely something to suit all tastes in my opinion. We decided that we fancied the look of the set lunch menu which, I may add, is excellent value for money give the portion sizes. It took us a short while to decide on what we would like to have and we didn't feel rushed at all. Presentation of all meals was excellent.
Whilst the set menu is quite limited with starters, we both decided that we would like the bread batons. To be fair though, even if there was more on offer, I would have likely have gone for this dish as it sounded delicious. We each received a little basket of six bread rolls, a little dish of garlic and parsley dip and a wipe for cleaning our hands afterwards. Oh my, this was a good choice of starter and I didn't expect to receive so much! The bread rolls weren't massive but they did offer a good few bites each. They were warm, soft inside and perfect for dipping in to the flavoursome dip that it arrived with. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and felt quite full afterwards. I appreciate the short spell of rest between my starter and main.
I was just ready for my main meal when it arrived. I struggled to decided between a few options on the lunch menu but knew that I wanted something pasta related so that cut it down a little. In the end, I decided to order 'pasta polpette' and received a large bowl full of casarecci pasta topped with meatballs, garlic mushrooms and a chilli and mascarpone sauce. I was offered some parmasean which I happily accepted. My dish was full of delicious flavour. This is the first time I have experienced casarecci pasta and it was unusual to have something different to my usual penne or spaghetti pasta. There was plenty of it and it was cooked to perfection as it had a very slight bite to it. A number of spicy, meaty meatballs were mixed through the dish. I don't usually bother with mushrooms but decided to eat them and really enjoyed them especially with the creamy yet slightly spicy sauce that covered them. My dish was piping hot and very satisfying so I would be happy to have this again. I also ordered some 'fries' but was quite disappointed that they weren't skinny fries. They were slightly overcooked on the outside and resembled oven chips as they were thick. They were nice enough to dip in my pasta sauce but the portion size wasn't great and I don't think they resembled proper fries personally.
Charlene loves pizza so I wasn't surprised when she opted for a pizza. The restaurant allows to you to create your own pizza by choosing from a selection of toppings but Charlene opted for cheese and onion. The pizza was huge and filled a large plate. It arrived whole with a sharp knife for my friend to cut it up herself. This proved to be rather difficult due to the limited space around her and I cannot understand why they didn't slice it up before serving. Anyway, the pizza was a thin, crispy base with tangy tomato sauce, flavoursome cheese and a decent amount of red onion. Charlene enjoyed her pizza but couldn't finish it all.
I very rarely knock back a dessert when eating out so it would be rude not to choose something at Bella Italia. I love something sweet to complete my meal and was spoiled for choice here. Charlene had planned on ordered a milkshake but couldn't manage anything else. I had originally hoped to order the cheesecake from the main menu but on asking if the honey could be left off, I was advised it was actually through the cheesecake. I'm not a fan of honey so decided against this.
I was drawn to the Autumn specials menu on the table which included a crumble of some sorts and a brownie sundae. I decided the brownie sundae (£5.95). sounded appealing. I personally chose this based on the description of having brownie chunks, caramel sauce, honeycomb ice cream, whipped cream, toffee popcorn and a lady finger biscuit. All of this came served in a large glass and looked very delicious. It wasn't under I started to eat it that I discovered that there was an extra in the sundae in the form of a scoop of chocolate ice cream...
Now, I know a lot of people wouldn't mind this added treat but I personally do not like chocolate ice cream and wouldn't have ordered this dessert had I know that it was present. I didn't have time to send it back but did find the description to be misleading. Anyway, my dessert was okay but I don't think I would bother with it again - chocolate ice cream or no chocolate ice cream. It was well presented and there was plenty of different flavours in the glass but the chocolate brownies at the bottom weren't warm but were quite tasty and soft. The honeycomb ice cream, caramel sauce and the whipped cream were delicious. I looked over at another table and spotted the mini doughnuts and wish I had ordered them instead. I will know for my next visit!
Our bill came to just under £40.00 and this included both two course lunch deals, a bowl of fries, a separate dessert and four soft drinks. I think this was reasonable good value for money as our tummies were full and we did enjoy most of the meal. I paid by cash and left a small tip but they do accept card payments and also Leisure Vouchers. I would like to go back and try out the breakfasts and will update this review on my return. Overall, I would recommend this branch of Bella Italia. It is the ideal place to have some lunch whilst out shopping in the City Centre. The other diners around us appeared to be happy with their meal choices and I was pleased to see that they catered for young children with activity packs and a great selection of meals.
Thanks for reading :)