* Prices may differ from that shown
I used to visit Bella pasta quite frequently a few years ago and I always found it to be really good, the food was fresh and plentiful and the desserts like the godfather were amazing.
I remember ordering a Godfather to share, which came in a huge glass ice cream dish, it was filled with warm gooey chocolate browny with chocolate pieces and ice cream with chocolate sauce and topped off with sparklers- It was incredible, but really a meal on it's own.
The staff did seem to change a lot but they were always attentive.
However recently since it changed to Bella Italia I noticed a big change. The staff were very slow and didn't bother with you and I didn't get the same feel of being in a traditional Italian style restaurant instead it was more commercialised.
I really couldn't find anything I liked as I didn't eat meat and in the end I had to choose a kind of lasagne with goats cheese.
When it came there was so much Goats cheese that it overpowered any other flavour to the point were it tasted more like old socks.
My partner had a pizza with duck over it, which we thought had to be good otherwise why would you put it on the menu but it really wasn't. I don't think that combination works at all.
At the end the waitress came over and after seeing what we had left asked us if everything was ok-I explained politely that we didn't enjoy our dishes and she went off. She never came back and she never said anything to us at all.
I really felt let down that day, we spent a lot on a meal that we didn't enjoy and after being in such a good mood we left really deflated.
I love to eat out and am always trying new places and returning to places I have eaten and enjoyed. Youve guessed it, Bella Italia (previously Bella Pasta) was one of those places, so could it live up to my first visit. When I first went here the restaurant seemed to be very big on pasta dishes and didnt really sell much else. This was good though because there was a huge variety of dishes and so much choice that it was a great menu. They have changed their interior now a well so its a whole new dining experience.
I am reviewing the Manchester Piccadilly restaurant here. I was going out for a friends birthday and so we all decided to go here because I did like it before and I liked how the main window was open since it was a hot day making it like an open terrace, very Italian. As we went in we were quickly shown to our seats but then they took 10 minutes to finally ask us what drinks we wanted and this was a hot day I was dying of thirst, another 10 minutes later the drinks finally arrived which was ridiculous as usually this procedure is done in 5 minutes within my entering a restaurant.
So, the food, well there is currently an offer going of 2 courses for £7.95 which to me sounded really good so I looked at the menu. There wasnt really much choice here, none of the starters were anything great and the main courses were not up to much. Some of you will probably say I am fussy but usually when restaurants have these kinds of offers they put good starters and main courses in but here to be blunt it was the reject foods from the menu that hardly anyone orders that they had selected. We disappointedly handed these back and asked for the other menu.
The real menu was definitely an improvement, a better choice and I could find something I wanted. A major difference now from the Bella Pasta menu to the newer Bella Italia menu is that they have minimalised the pasta section and now have fish, pizza, meat and more starters. This is good as it will probably appeal to a bigger range of people. I wanted pasta so I picked Penne Pollo e Crema which was very nice. I was going to go for Lasagne but decided on this. There is linguini, spaghetti etc. They also have grilled meats, salads and paninis and side orders.
So it took roughly 15 minutes for the food to arrive which didnt seem to take too long. The pasta was cooked quite nicely and was well presented, some pieces were a little hard but overall nice. The only thing that annoyed me here was that I thought the prices were a bit steep. It cost £8.25 just for this dish and pasta to me isnt really that expensive a food. Also when it came the waitress asked if we wanted pepper or cheese. This was nice but she then flicked the cheese onto me instead of into my plate which annoyed me as she barely apologised.
I wasnt really wanting dessert after but I had a look at what was on offer. There was a good selection and I could have easily chosen, there was Bannoffe Pie, Tiramisu, Brownie, Ice Cream and more. These were all reasonably price at around £3.95 which is normal for dessert these days, maybe next time.
So, the service well I cant say it was the best I ever had. The waitress took ages with drinks, threw cheese on me and then threw our dishes down onto the table. She never asked us once if we wanted anymore drinks and also preferred to stand talking in the bar than help anyone else.
The general atmosphere of the place inside was nice, I cant deny that fact. Everyone seemed to eat quietly without too much noise. I also noticed a lot of people coming in alone in a welcoming way to eat food without being made to feel odd. I personally havent done it but I probably would have done it in this restaurant. There was a wide range of customers from families, couple, and younger groups of friends.
The décor inside was very sophisticated and Mediterranean. There was the dim light room with mahogany coloured walls, the classic Italian bar and the Italian phrases on the wall amongst paintings and statues. I felt very comfortable at the table and I really liked the real feel you get for the country inside the restaurant. It was designed with a touch of class and as I said again with the open window and the fact smoking was near there.
So, would I go back? I cant blame one unfriendly waitress on the service here. I do like Bella Italia and their food is very nice, their pasta dishes are very nice. I like the atmosphere inside. The prices are a bit high though they should do better offers to attract more people. My favourite Italian restaurant has a lunch menu which would easily rival this chain and put them to shame. I cant say I would frequently use this chain but if I pass by and am starving then maybe as I have some desserts I still need to try.
If you want more information on where your nearest restaurant is go to http://www.bellapasta.co.uk . Here you can get a menu for your local Bella Italia it also tells you all about the latest offers on and more.
Id seen Bella Pasta restaurants, in just about every city Ive been in there seems to be one somewhere, but hadnt ventured in until I finally visited the branch in Leicester Square, in the hurly burly of central London.
There are many throughout the UK 64 in total at the moment. Not many in Scotland (only 6) and Wales (only 1 in Cardiff).
I love Italian food, so Bella Pasta was a natural choice for me, but Ive tired of the Pizza Huts of this world, so wasnt sure how it would be. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised.
Good choice of pasta from around the £7 mark, for the linguini with rocket pesto, or if your after a really cheap meal out the Penne Pomodoro, with a plain tomato sauce, is only £4.95. There are a few veggie choices the Caserecci Aspargi sounds especially wonderful, with asparagus, courgette and spinach (£6.85)
Pizzas are also in the region of £6 to £8 (Margerhita is £4.95), and you can get extra toppings for 95p each.
I can recommend the Rosemary and garlic potatoes (£1.95) These came with a cheesy mayonnaise dip perfect for what I wanted. Other side dishes include garlic bread (£3.95 for enough for 2 people), side salad £2.95, and herb diced potatoes £1.95.
I havent had a dessert, but they sound delicious around £4.00. Tiramisu, panna cotta with orange ice cream, lemon tart, creamy cheesecake, tartufo (chocolate ice cream bombe) anything there that tickles your fancy?
I had a good meal deal, the menu espresso, where you get 2 courses for £7.95. Thats a starter and a main course, no choice of having a main course and a sweet, so thats aimed squarely at those of us who like savoury things rather than the sweet-toothed visitor. Theres a choice of 4 different starters and 4 different main courses. Garlic mushrooms followed by tortellini pesto was fine for me.
Now £7.95 aint bad for central tourist-area London, is it?
There are also special discounts for students which vary from branch to branch. For example, 20% off Monday to Thursday (London), or Monday nights 50% between 5 and 10 pm (Lancaster, term-time only). So dont forget your NUS card, if youve got one!
Bella Pasta is reasonably priced, has a good choice of dishes, and definitely has the edge over some of the other high street chains (Pizza Hut, Franky and Bennys). It feels slightly more upmarket than these, somehow.
Still fine for your Saturday lunch between-shopping, though.
Bella Pasta have a chain of restaurants across the country, 63 at the last count and still growing! They would fall into the same category as Pizza Hut and Pizza Express with regards to prices, they aren't exactly cheap but won't break the bank either. Me and my partner have visited the Bath chain on a couple of occasions and have enjoyed our meals there immensely. Being a chain restaurant, I wouldn't be able to say that every single outlet is of the same quality but I would be happy to try out other outlets when I am in another area. Heres a little more detail on the Bath chain ; You can turn up without having to book but at busy periods it is very advisable to pre-book as me and my partner found on our first visit, there is a lounging area where you can wait until a table becomes available. This is a very good idea which many other restaurants are beginning to use to avoid losing customers. We had a drink apiece and were chatting happily for about fifteen minutes when we were beckoned over by an assistant to take us to our table. On our second visit we had booked and our table was waiting for us and were shown straight to it, personally I would advise to pre-book at Bella Pasta but it depends on how much of a rush you are in really. The table itself was very clean and very well presented with an Italian style tablecloth and candle. Our assistant who was to look after us gave us our menus and took our drinks order. The table we were allocated was in my view a little too close to the other tables, on looking around everybody else was in the same position. Personally I like privacy when I am eating out and don't like feeling self-conscious when I am having a conversation. The atmosphere was very noisy and bustling, waitresses were going to and fro all the time and it really looked hard work for them, again this put me off a bit, I really enjoy a bit of peace and quiet when I am out and I like to take my time. Bella Pasta at
this stage didn't look like my kind of place. Anyway the menu itself was very extensive and exotically worded, it certainly made the juices flow in my mouth and the caves to echo in my stomach. (prices in pounds) Starters 2.95 - 6.75 Paninis 3.45 - 5.25 Salads 3.95 - 7.25 Pastas 5.45 - 7.95 Pizzas 4.95 - 7.95 Extra toppings 0.99 Desserts 2.95 - 6.25 Bottles of wine 10.45 - 14.25 Kids menu 3.95 (3 courses) We both ordered starters, me soup of the day and my partner mussels. They arrived about fifteen minutes later and they both looked and smelt gorgeous. They tasted as good as they looked and if anything I was already beginning to fill up before we had even reached the main course. Onto the main course, I ordered chicken pasta in tomato sauce and my partner her favourite Spaghetti carbonara of which she is somewhat of a connoiseur. The dishes arrived about 30 minutes later which surprised me as I had expected to be rushed and they looked splendid. The portions looked very generous and were very nicely presented, my chicken pasta was delicious and I really enjoyed it and my partner although not fantastic said hers was equally enjoyable. The sauce which either makes or breaks a great pasta was really really good and was heavily complimented by a bottle of Chianti. After we had finished our main course we were both full up and were enjoying the rest of our wine whilst deciding if we were going to have a dessert or just a coffee. Our assistant who had been exemplorary all evening came to clear away our plates and I requested a bit more time and she very apologetic and pleasant which she didn't have to be. We decided in the end just to have a coffee before settling the bill. I would say the service we received was very good indeed, all the staff we met were very professional, well presented and courteous, something which is heavily lacking in todays society, on service alone I would g
ive Bella Pasta top marks and they could certainly teach some of their competitors a thing or two. We were given plenty of time between courses which suggest that the chefs were preparing our food properly. We tipped our waitress because we thought she deserved it. With regards to the food I was very impressed, the main course was delicious and although it wouldn't be the best I have ever tasted it was certainly very tasty and enjoyable. With regards to value again I was very surprised and impressed. I have been to simular establishments where the cheapest pasta dish has been ten notes and hasn't been as generous or as tasty. The bill was forty quid and although not cheap it was certainly better value than a lot of other places considering a bottle of wine was included. The bill didn't include a service charge which is rare for Bath, I always think it's a damn cheek to charge for service anyway. Overall I would recommend Bella Pasta to anyone, perhaps it is not the ideal place for a romantic night out as it gets very hectic but the food offered there is very enjoyable and offers great value. It is ideal for a family meal or an informal meal or for someone on a budget. I would definately pre-book if your going to visit at a peak time (8 - 10 pm Fri/Sat) to avoid a potential long wait for a table. The only slight quibbles I have about Bella Pasta are it's popularity (which of course is to be expected) which result in very hectic atmospheres and the tables which are packed into the restaurant like sardines offering little privacy. BUT the positives outweigh the negatives and I would definately return to Bella Pasta again. Thanks for reading. =========================== WormThatTurned2004
"A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut, MaacccDonaalds, MaaccDonalds, Kentucky Fired Chicken and a Pizza Hut" I either have terrible taste in food or music! Or both, whichever way you look at it! So on Sunday my self and the daughter decided to take ourselves off to Bella Pasta, a place we've visited a couple of time before. Its getting a bit of a reputation as becoming an Italian fast food eatery. I think that's a little unfair, definitely not a traditional Italian, more so one of those foodie chain pubs. A restaurant ion the centre of Bristol is quite a sad and lonely affair on a Sunday afternoon. There were only 3 other tables full. So why the rather surly waitress felt the need to put us on a table close to the other occupied table in the smoking section I have no idea! Perhaps it was so she didn't have to walk so far between the tables? Nay, I'm sure I'm being a cynic! Waiting at least 10 minutes to even be offered a drink, we perused the menu. Its a pity I had to ask about their special offer called 'The Italian Job', which was liberally plastered around the room. Obviously she felt we were too well-off to be shown this special offer deal (ooh, cynicism creeping again). Anyway, it seems for a grand sum of £7.95 you get any pizza or pasta with garlic bread included. So I definitely kept that in mind. Yawnnn, sorry just looking at the starters, Soup of the Day, Bruschetta, Garlic Bread all for about £4. Ourselves, we went for the 'exotic' sounding Assortimento, a meal for sharing at £6.90. MM, there I was expecting a feast piled upon a plate, silly me, setting myself up for a fall! A lovely triangular plate it was spoilt by what was on it. A lovely full plate (sarcasm now) of 4 tiny chicken wings, 4 small dough balls, 2 slices of bruschetta topped with red stuff and a sprinkling of rosemary potatoes with a completely irrelevant bit of salad. The time
pot of cheesy mayonnaise was absolutely gorgeous, well to be truthful it all tasted nice, but where the hell do they get these tiny chickens from? Never mind, the main menu is a lot bigger, I've never been a fan of those Italian style pizza, especially when the description says you can roll it! They're all £6.50 to £8.00, but U really didn't fancy any of them. The inevitable Ham and Pineapple and Ham and Mushroom, but the rest are odd mixes of tuna, anchovies, various vegetables and bits of meat, but if that's your kind of thing..... So on to the pasta...Spaghetti Carbonara, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne, Cannelloni, etc. Humm predictable and Dolmio do it so much cheaper, but there are a few differences, my daughter had Chicken Alpina. This was basically penne pasta with chicken and ham in a four cheese sauce, edible enough but quite bland(£7.95). I did go for the Meatballs and Spaghetti. I don't think at all that the big robust meatballs go with thin spaghetti, it would have been far better with tagliatelle. Again quite nice but no discernible taste about the rather stodgy meatballs (£7.25). I mentioned to the waitress that we may as well have the garlic bread as well, seeing it would then cost only £7.95. The garlic bread was absolutely lovely, like a mini ciabatta loaf it was dripping with plenty of garlic butter. Although the main meals section looked quite large, like the pizzas it seemed to be made up of several elements, loads of chicken, cream and the occasional splash of red wine. Nothing inspiring at all I'm sorry to report. They also do paninis till 5pm, and salads. The portions were very generous so you don't necessarily need a starter. Hurrah we're at the most important part, the desserts. Couldn't be bothered with the tirimusu, cheesecake, ice cream or tarts because the word chocolate wasn't there! My daughter attempted to finish off the Godfather, a mi
x of chocolate brownie, ice cream, whipped cream chocolate raisins and chocolate beans. Pure and utter sickliness, even my sweet guzzling daughter couldn't eat it all. Unlike me who just about managed my over rich chocolate cake thingy, layers of chocolate sponge, mousse and cheesecake and fudge sauce with cream. Rather than being a nice ending to a good meal, it just ended up as a glutinous pig-out which didn't feel very nice. The standard of food was good enough, nothing outstanding, just mass produced. I certainly wouldn't be surprised to find that it consisted of reheated frozen meals. The service was not the best I've even encountered, the waitress was interested and surly from the start. We did not hear a 'enjoy your food', 'is everything ok' or even an offer of more drinks. I was also annoyed that I had to go and find her so I could pay the bill. Upon leaving the daft cow had charged us separately for the garlic bread adding another fiver to the bill. What do I find out? The offer is on another menu. After I asked her what it was , and mentioned it again when ordering you'd think she had the decency to mention it, obviously it was too much effort to do so. Thanks love! Am I being petty? Think about it, yourselves and the two kids go in, thinking exactly the same about the offer I did, it could add an extra tenner on the bill! Thanks love I don't think I'll be rushing back, not with the amount of Italian restaurants that Bristol has to offer, nice decor though.
There’s nothing bella about the pasta at this place. At least, the meal I had last night in the Victoria, London, branch was the worst “Italian” meal I’ve ever tasted in my life. The sauce of the Funghi della Casa starter looked and tasted like it had come out of a tin of Campbell’s condensed soup and the mozzarella topping was non-existent. Likewise, the “rich mushroom, onion, tomato, garlic and tarragon sauce” on my chicken tasted like it had come straight out of a tin, or a jar of Uncle Benn’s cook-in sauce. There’s nothing wrong with cook-in sauces in my opinion, but I certainly don’t expect to be served one in a restaurant charging £8.95 for the dish in question. My friend’s meatballs were pretty tasteless and the accompanying linguine was dry and rubbery. When the waitress asked in a rather offhand manner whether our meal was ok, I replied that I didn’t think it was very good. When I mentioned that the chicken sauce didn’t taste like it had been cooked from fresh, she sternly replied that maybe it was my personal taste that was at fault and that the sauce is in fact prepared every day. Yes, but does opening a new tin every day mean the sauce is freshly made? I don’t think so. She couldn’t have been more unhelpful if she’d tried. Maybe I was unlucky in my choice of branch of Bella Pasta, but I certainly won’t be giving them another chance.
I have to start with being slightly smarmy, or my review doesn't really work. In Lancaster, at that Bella Pasta, during termtime you could get 50% off your food bill on certain days if you were a student. Now that's why I went so often and that's why I feel I know quite a lot about it. Without that the food is undoubtedly quite expensive....but without money in mind as I used to get it so cheap, I can write a review without sounding penny-pinching so here we go. Bella Pasta serves a wide choice of starters-from soup to bread balls, garlic bread, bread rolls and mixed platters. There is something for everyone, so try something new. But they do not vary as much as the main courses. Pizza with toppings such as duck, prawns, shaved spiced ham and sundried tomatoes, and you're going to feel like you're having a treat. It comes on a huge plate and the base is very thin and rollable, so you wont get too messy but can eat with fingers. The pasta is similarly various. There are baked pastas- cannelonni, lasagne, chicken cream pasta, smoked salmon pasta which although small are very filling cos they are full of sauce. Other pastas- the carbonara, meatball and bolgnaise type come in large round dishes making food look appetising. But don't be fooled- there is plenty in there :) Lunchtime they also do sanwiches like BLT which is a nice hot filling in their speciality bread. Always worth a try! As for the puddings- now they really are worth it. Light creamy tiramisu, ice cream (gelati), cappuccino mousse and best of all the Godfather. Brownie smothered in chocolate sauce, ice cream, marshmallows and biscuits. It's divine- and with a single one or for 2 to share (which seems to come in a huge fruit bowl sized thing) then it's definitly worth it. The atmosphere is quite relaxed, but it can get really busy. I did feel sometimes that I was half being pushed out of the door. It is quite good for parties and they
do have a thing if it's a birthday or anniversary where the staff come and sing to you. So it is good, really diverse foods and certainly tasty. And dare I say it..definitly when there is 50% off food!
To celebrate a few child-free hours over the Bank Holiday weekend, my partner and I had a rare trip out to the cinema, followed by a meal afterwards. The cinema we went to (Warner Village, Bristol) is surrounded by restaurants, but I quite fancied pizza, so we chose Bella Pasta, an Italian place neither of us had tried before. Eating out is often a traumatic experience for me, as I have problems eating in public, with stress meaning I physically cannot swallow. Therefore, it is quite difficult dining out, but we managed to have a nice time and things went well. For starters, we ate between 6 and 7pm, when it was quiet, with those that were there nicely spaced out. It is a well sized restaurant with reasonably sized gaps between tables, which gives you some privacy. We also managed to find a lovely table for two at the very end of the room, next to the wall, which felt secluded enough. The menu consisted of mainly pizza and pasta dishes. There were starters available, including soup of the day, but we decided to skip straight to the main course. I wanted pizza, usually preferring Deep Pan, but only thin crust was available here. Still, that’s my problem, not theirs! I chose a Margherita pizza (£5.25) with three extra toppings at 55p each – pineapple, mushrooms and spinach. It tasted delicious and was huge! It was baked well, not too dry and not at all greasy. Each ingredient seemed nicely balanced, with nothing being too over-powering. My partner chose Spaghetti Americano (£7.15) which was basically meatballs with spaghetti and sauce, but it looked much more impressive than it sounds. It was another generous portion and he really enjoyed it. Being a vegetarian myself, I was pleased to see the menu clearly displaying the ‘V’ symbol on the vegetarian options, of which there were many. Often being a vegetarian can seem restricting when eating out, but I was impressed by the variety of choice
s available to me here. For drinks, we both fancied coffee, but I am not keen on those strong dark Italian ones, so asked our waitress, Anita, about the different coffees on the menu. When I explained I like creamy coffees, she offered to make us one of those instead, which she did and it was lovely. (£1.25 each) The service was excellent, with the staff appearing to be very friendly and accommodating. While the pizza was gorgeous, there was far too much of it to eat in one go, so I asked if the rest could be put in a box for me to take home – and this was done immediately for me, the box being presented to us with our bill. The staff were smartly dressed too, with long hair tied back. They seemed to work well together, with no raised voices or audible tension. They gave us enough time to ponder the menu, but were there whenever we were ready to order. The wait for each course was minimal and we never felt rushed. The most important part of a meal for me is usually the dessert. The ones on offer at Bella Pasta all sounded very tempting, but I fancied something light, so we both chose Gelato Limoncello (£7.10 for two). This is a mountain shaped delight of lemon and creamy vanilla ice-cream with a lemon and vodka sauce. Again, the balance of tastes was perfect, with just a slight tang of lemon and a hint of vodka. Beautiful. Our bill came to £23.65, but service was not included, so we gave some extra to our wonderful Anita. It did seem rather pricey, but that was really the only fault. We couldn’t afford to go there too often, but would certainly consider another visit.
Bella Pasta. Just typing the name makes me hungry. I'm known in our halls of residence for my, let's just say, 'picky' eating habits. Fruit, vegetable and meat are all dirty words as far as I'm concerned. My standard daily food intake concentrates on things of the bread and pasta variety. As a result, I very rarely eat out which can be a pain as meals in restaurants are a very social thing and quite frequent, even for broke students. I'm trying to train myself to eat cacky (sorry "normal") food but I'm not quite there yet. Back to the topic in hand. Bella Pasta is one of the few restaurants I can not only find something I like at, but also one I enjoy. Their menu, which is pretty comprehensive, lists various pasta and sauce combinations, but as the staff are more than happy to point out, you can mix and match as much as you want. Who cares if bollonaise is meant for spaghetti - you want it with penne? You got it! This is great for me as I can get my pasta just how I want it - plain! No sauce, no nothing. What's even better is the price they charge me. It generally varies depending on the branch, but between 1 and 2 pounds is standard. My friends scream when they realise how cheap it is to be me, but they are not quite ready to give up their toppings just yet..... Now I know I could buy a whole packet of pasta for 35p in the Tesco across the road, but it's not just the food you are paying for. It's having someone else cook it, serve it and wash up, and for a quid or 2 who can really complain? For those people who have a liking for, well, flavour, Bella Pasta do of course offer "normal" food at very reasonable prices. About 6 pounds is average for a main course pasta dish, with starters including Ciabatta garlic bread (yum!) starting at 1.50. Drinks are also not too expensive, and the puddings are lovely and reasonable (as well as so deicious - I'd definately recommend the "Godfath
er") Bella Pasta has branches around the country (click on www.bellapasta.co.uk for your nearest), and allthough the staff vary, the service does not. It is always good if not great. The waiters are helpfull and know enough about the food to make recommendations when they've been told your likes and dislikes. Although my last few visits have been to one of the Manchester Branches at weekends, we have never felt like we need to leave as soon as the meal is over. There always seem to be enough tables for the masses although they do take bookings for special occasions - "special" is Sundays especially, when they offer students half price meals at my local branch. Having 4 unis nearby means the crowds appear. But at those prices, who can complain? 50p main course anyone?
The chain ------------ Bella Pasta has been classified by some as the McDonalds of pasta but this tag I think is unfair. I’ve been to many Bella Pastas, in Manchester, Birmingham, and now Oxford. The service in these type of chains are usually poor, or ordinary at the most. However the majority of times I’ve been to Bella Pasta, the service has always been good. Whether this is due to the fact that they have to earn their service charge as this is not included and it is printed on the menu and bill. As a rule it suggests 10% of the final bill more for parties of 6 or more. This op will concentrate on the Oxford branch unless where specified. Décor is kept to the continental flavour with wooden tables and chairs. This one is also much brighter than other chains I have been in. Its is medium size, not to small and ensure privacy for those romantic occasions. The waiters look respectable and well trained. The menu consists of ‘traditional’ and variations of Italian food. Garlic bread seems to be missing off the starters, but is available as a side order or starter. Starters are rather pricey, but I guess it is the same as other similar places. Salads and vegetarian options are available as well as pasta and spaghetti bolognaise for those wanting it. Main courses start from 6 pounds and are reasonable. The wine list is adequate rather than exceptional, and price wise is OK, though I would avoid the cheaper red wine selection, but the cheap whites are fine. The Bad ---------- Well lets get the bad things over and done with. The main problem is the inconsistency of the portion size, the Birmingham branch can give out mega portions or then it can go the other extreme. It still early days for the Oxford branch since I’ve been to other places here where the service was good on the first visit but on subsequent returns the service have been abysmal. I was fortunate to come in just in tim
e, as further customers were turned away as they had started to run out. This is the first time I’ve seen it happen and being peak time for tourists in Oxford, I guess this can be excused. Well this surprisingly for me is it. Yes very little complaint in this op! The good ----------- The service was very quick, and was seated on entry. I was asked whether I wanted a drink while I looked at the menu, which is how it should be. I asked for water while I looked and this was delivered to me very quickly. The waiter then came to me and took my order for a salad for a starter, a black and white linguine (chicken and bacon in a creamy sauce) and asked whether I wanted any garlic bread, which I added as well. The starter came very shortly. The salad was nothing special and the dressing was good. I had black pepper added as well. The portion size was good, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cucumber. The main course came shortly after. This wasn’t presented in any special way, a bog standard affair but good. The portion size was good. The sauce was tasty and not too thick. There were adequate chunks of meat as well. The garlic bread, or ciabatta was one of the best I’ve had. It was still warm and very soft. The garlic taste was strong and flavoursome. I could eat this all day long, but I better stock up on parsley to avoid the garlic breath. The ugly ---------- Well I guess the bill was not good, well it was OK, and I didn’t mind paying considering it was good and I enjoyed myself. There was a good handful of lemon sherbert sweets, which was essential to hide my garlic breath, with the bill. Sorry folks couldn’t find too much to much to fault I’m afraid, believe I tried very hard. In fact I felt guilty that I didn’t pay my waiter enough in service charge though this was 15% of my final bill. The waiter was friendly, polite and provided good quick service. Overall
very good for my first visit. Hopefully my next visit in Oxford would be the same.
With little knowledge of Edinburgh and having eyes only for each other, it was difficult for us young honeymooners to seek out a nice restaurant. We had been married for one day and should really have celebrated this fact by opting for something more romantic than a well-known restaurant chain, but Bella Pasta was for some reason all we could find. It was about seven o’clock on the last Sunday of April 2000 and we were starving, having flown up from Heathrow and eaten nothing but a really disgusting pitta-bread sandwich type thing (full of grisly chicken and flaccid lettuce) on the plane. Bella Pasta was a known quantity – we’d been a few times closer to home and knew that while it probably wouldn’t be the gourmet experience of the holiday, it would be OK. This branch was almost empty and the dingy lighting made it appear cold and unfriendly. Then we realised that it was actually cold, but the waiter was as friendly as could be expected from someone who was clearly desperate to go home. We perused the menus and quickly decided what we wanted – plenty of choice and all sounding delicious. Then the waiter reappeared and told us that six of the dishes were unavailable. No problem – we chose something else. Our first choices, however, were also off. And our second. Bizarrely, so was my third, although my husband had managed to secure a vague promise of a dinner by this time. Fourth choice was something which looked merely “OK” and was obviously so wonderful that I can’t even remember what it was now. While waiting for the meals to arrive, we read the tablecloth, which was plastic and covered in words of wisdom all about pasta. It was difficult to talk over the music, which was far too loud for such an empty place, so we munched on the breadsticks which were as horrible as breadsticks usually are. I hate breadsticks but from a restauranteur’s point of view they no doubt have the useful purpose
of making the food taste better. Considering there were hardly any people in the restaurant and a severely limited supply of ingredients, it didn’t half take the chef a long time to cook our food. I cooked a lot of pasta while I was at university and I know that it does not take three quarters of an hour to boil it up, stick a bit of pre-prepared sauce and cheese on it and bung it in a bowl. I also know how darn cheap it is and can quite honestly say that I could make just about any of the pasta dishes on the menu for round about 50p - a bit off-putting when you're paying a fiver and have to wait a long time. Anyway, it eventually arrived and was, as far as I can remember, reasonably good. There was a large amount of it, however, which was fairly difficult to slog through – especially considering there’s not much variety from one side of the bowl to the other in any pasta dish. It is not really fair to judge Bella Pasta as rubbish just because one visit was not really up to scratch. I have been to a couple of its other branches and have had no complaints – the food is normally tasty and and the surroundings are well-presented. I have focused on the one bad experience because a.) it makes for a longer opinion and b.) once is enough to put people off for life – if I had never been to a Bella Pasta before, I would certainly never go again after experiencing the general mediocrity of this particular meal. Oh, and before anyone comments about the wealth of wonderful restaurants in Edinburgh – I know. We walked past every single one of them on the way back to the hotel.
Ok, I found a decetnly tacky italian title for this review - that's one job out of the way I guess. Now for the restaurants. I'll start by saying that I love Italian food, the way it is served in Britain. The food tastes better in Italy but the way they eat everything seperate really bugs me. I want my meat with my veg sometimes! Bella is very Italian, there is little else on the (centrally set) menu. So if you don't like Italian, you can write it off your list. If you do like Italian you will fare pretty well here. The menu is kind of rigid - the sort of inflexibility you would expect from a chain restaurant. But having said that, do not be put off. They try hard to spread the menu in a lot of areas so that cheeses, wines, seafood, pasta and pizza are all covered, if not in detail. The ice creams, the other good reason to eat Italian, are alright but not perfect. The ambience of each of these Bella's is the same - if you want an example try to tell the difference between the two in Leicester Square! But then again, it's no worse than a pizza hut or express pizza in that respect. I ate Bella in London because I was on a budget and the prices are always at Pizza Hut levels without the place being quite as common as even the most upmarket Pizza Hut seems. Overall, service is usually average, food on the good side of average, the menu fairly steady and the bill reasonably light. If you want a really cracking Italian treat in London then look for Tuttons in Covent Garden - whilst ludicrously expensive and not a through-and-through Italian, they will cook you whatever you like and their Italian dishes are heaven. Bella Pasta is mass-Italian on a budget, but fits the market segment well.
I know it's a chain but I think that Bella Pasta is a really great restaurant. There is a branch of it just around the corner from my college in Cambridge and my friends and I frequent it at least 5 times a term, as a result I know the menu really well! The Cambridge branch is especially nice as it is in an old mill-house so the water-wheel is there. If you're lucky enough then you get a table in the actual mill-house where there are glass panels in all the tables so you can look down at the water rushing under your feet. This is a really nice touch - except for when there's a huge spider just under your dinner!! I've never actually had a starter at Bella Pasta as a poverty-stricken student, not even garlic bread. The drinks menu is very good though with a wide selection of fruit juices and some traditional Italian soft drinks, there's one that's a kind of rose-water thing that is particularly nice. A large juice costs £1.25 and a small £1. They are also very willing to bring a jug of water which is great for students who don't want to be ripped off for coke! Again I've never had anything from the wine list but the glasses are quite reasonable priced at around £2.50. A friend usually has house white and seems to enjoy it so it is recommended! The main courses are divided into lots of sections. The pizzas are particularly good, as you waould expect from an Italian restaurant. They are about £6 - £7 and really tasty! They are quite large and the staff are happy to make up any combination you ask for. I recommend the duck and red onion pizza as it is delicious and very filling. Also they have some quite original toppings eg the duck pizza which make a change from the usual Hawaiian etc. There is also a "breadcrumbs" section of the menu. What I mean by this is dishes in sauce eg chicken in white wine with a yummy parmesan/breadcrumb topping, kind of like Italian shepherd's pie. These are a bit more
expensive, £7 - £10 but also lovely. I had had chicken with mixed peppers and a mushromo dish, both of which are lovely. Here again they will make up pretty much anything you want. There are traditional Italian dishes like Lasagne and Spaghetti Carbonara which are also good especially the spaghetti. There is a final section of the menu containing more exotic dishes one of which, called Marco Polo, is duck in a sweet plum sauce. I love duck if you hadn't realised already and this dish is really very fine. Onto my favourite part of the menu, the DESSERTS! I heartily recommend the Godfather if you like chocolate brownies and cream. It is truly delicious for £3.65. Cioccolato Divino is also sublime, chocolate cheesecakey thing that is very rich. The Tiramisu is a bit more disappointing as the portions are quite small but it is also lovely, if a bit sickly. There is a peach ice-cream thing that is a different kind of dessert and nice if you don't want anything too rich. Overall I think that Bella Pasta has excellent variety in its menu and there are always about 30 things I want to eat. It also isn't that expensive, at about £10-15 per meal.
The restaurants are everywhere and are as a result have the old franchise restaurant touch. I've been twice, just in case the first time was a one off!! The food is average, but (i'm told by friends)it depends on what dish u order (I have only tried the sea food and vegetarian dishes). The pizzas are better then the pasta dishes. I would say the ambience of the place is average and the service is slow. Not one of the best italian places, by all means. Its OK if there is a group of you but avoid if your wanting a romatic dinner for two
Situated at the city centre opposite the Piccadilly Garden. It offers a selection of Italian food which includes pastas, spaghettis and other Italian cuisines. The meals are priced on the average, but in my opinion, it wasnt as good and as genuine as what you can get in Italy. Dont take the seafood pasta, they are horrible. And the portion is little. You probably need to order two main courses to get a full stomach. Try the spaghettis, they are good. Service is slow, I need to wait for so long before the waitress come to attend to me.