“ Address: 83 High Road / London / E18 2QP „
Bella Naples is a family owned and run restaurant in South Woodford, East London. Situated on the High Road, opposite the cinema, I parked in nearby Sainsbury's car park and walked over to the restaurant, when I dined there as a part of a group of seven one Friday evening. There are local buses that run nearby or you can walk up from the tube station (Central Line) which will take about 10 minutes up hill.
The restaurant is fairly small, but has a lay out that means it isn't too cramped. Upon arrival at 7pm, there was only one other table occupied, and only a few others got taken throughout the evening. The décor is simple and understated - wooden tables and chairs in a well-lit, glass fronted space. To be honest, a week on and I can barely remember what it was like, so it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. At the end of the day we were here for the food, and if that is nice, does the décor really matter? The lavatory is at the back, up a few steps. It was clean, but running low on toilet paper.
The food menu doesn't mention all the drinks; they have a separate wine list that wasn't on our table when I arrived. I decided just to have a glass of house white (£5 for 250ml) whilst we waited for the rest of our party to arrive. The House white was perfectly chilled, crisp and refreshing, leaning towards the medium end of the scale. People mostly had wine, bottled beer (Peroni, Stella and Bud were available) or soft drinks. Prices are not on their online menu when I went to double check, so are based on my memory. It does, however, clearly highlight dishes that are home made.
To start, many of us had one of the different types of bruschetta that they offer. The Bruschetta con Funghi (mushrooms) was popular, as was the Bruschetta Melenzana (aubergine). I went for the Bruschetta Napoli, which was more like the classic bruscheeta with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and olives. All were priced about £4. I was a bit disappointed with mine, as I found the toasted bread a bit overdone and hard to cut with my knife. Others didn't seem to have this problem, so I guess I was a little bit unlucky. One of our party had the Parmigiana (Tomato, Mozzarella, aubergine, Basil) starter as it was recommended by our server. He was a little bit disappointed with it. I am not sure of the exact problem, but he felt it didn't deliver what he expected. It was a good size though, and I am glad I didn't have it as it would have been too large for me as a starter. It would have been a good size to share though.
Most people had pasta or risotto for their main courses. The seafood spaghetti and risotto were both well received and made with fresh fish. I was the only one to have a pizza, the Pina Colada Hawaiiana (Tomato, Mozzarella and Pineapple) which was about £7. I was quite excited about having a vegetarian Hawaiian pizza. To be honest, it wasn't that exciting, although nice enough. I think if we visited again I would try a different one - they had a good choice. It was a good size and I couldn't finish it, but it was well cooked on a thin base.
All fairly full, we decided not to have a dessert except for one person who went for a chocolate mousse cake. He kindly asked for six extra spoons so we all had a taste. It was very nice, and a large portion, so again, ideal to share. Some of our party had coffees, and we decided to linger and chant for a bit longer in the restaurant than go across the road and fight for a spot in the pub. They seemed quite happy to oblige. The bill was itemised so you only need to pay for your share, but we split it for ease. I believe it came to £108 without service for the seven of us, which I think is very good value as we all had two courses, and perhaps one alcoholic drink apiece.
Service was friendly but I think our waitress was a little bit inexperienced, although polite and helpful. We did meet the chef-owner who came over to answer some questions and had a little chat. The restaurant has been open for two years now, and surrounded by pizza-pasta chains in all directions, so it is nice to have one that is a bit different.
I enjoyed my meal here but wasn't blown away by it. I don't think I was alone in that opinion amongst my companions, although some others did love all they had. I would certainly return, and perhaps try something different.
83 High Road
T.: 020 8616 4345