Saturday, 30 April 2016
REVIEW: Bella Italia, Watford
No one really talks about how hard it is to be a food blogger. It's HARD, you guys. Always eating slightly tepid food because you've spent so long photographing it. Being stared at in restaurants when you whip out your giant camera. And trying to think of different ways to say 'SO TASTY'. Because sometimes that's all you want to say. And that's pretty much all I wanted to say when I reviewed the new Bella Italia menu recently and experienced the garlicky, chickeny, stuffed crust wonder that's their new pizza. Mmmm.
I haven't been to a Bella Italia in ages (it's still Bella Pasta to me) so was interested to see how it's changed. The branch in Watford is brand new, and has an authentic Italian feel to the decor with super friendly staff. We started with a sharing board, which was a selection of meats, breads and salad. It was really good - I would have liked a little more bread and maybe something to dip, but that's just me and my love of carbs and dips. And to be honest, once our mains came, I was pretty glad that I hadn't had more bread with my starter.
As I mentioned earlier, my pizza was pretty special. The Pollo Pesto isn't so much a white pizza as a green pizza, with a basil pesto base replacing the usual tomato sauce. Plus chicken, mushrooms and loads of cheese. I'll level with you here - it doesn't need the stuffed crust option. But when they ask you if you do want the Ripiena crust - that's stuffed with mozzarella and garlic butter, FYI - you're going to have a hard time saying no. If you're used to the kind of stuffed crust that takeaway joints offer, then you're in for a wonderful surprise (it's real cheese, for a start). This pizza is super rich - the kind of rich that, after a slice, you wonder how you're going to manage the rest - but so worth it. Everything I want in a pizza, tbh.
Matt had the Filetto di Spigola, which was a sea bass fillet with roast potatoes and vegetables. I know. We've talked about how it's just mean to order fish when you have dinner with me, because I don't like it, and so I couldn't try any. That's just the rules of DINNER. He had some of mine, you know. Anyway, he said it was very nice - buttery and rich in flavour with a good mix of vegetables - and a good alternative if you don't want pizza, pasta or something-with-chips.
As a side, we shared courgette fries, which were crispy and tender, although if I had to nitpick, I'd say they really needed a nice sauce on the side. My pizza was so filling though (I ended up taking half of it home) that I wasn't too bothered.
I loved the dessert option - Bella Italia offer an array of different 'dessert shots' for you to choose from. You can order all five, or just a few, and you can share them or eat them all yourself if you're hungry - so many options. We were pretty full (but, you know, troopers) so we shared three between us - the Tiramasu, the Amaretto Mousse and the Panna Cotta. We had one each (hello, Amaretto) and then shared the Panna Cotta between us. They were really good, although having just checked the website I've now found that they're doing a chocolate mousse with a salted caramel topping, which wasn't an option on our visit, and now I'm sad, because salted caramel is everything I love in this world.
It was a lovely dinner, and we didn't feel remotely rushed or hemmed in, which can often be the case in chain restaurants. Additionally, our waiter had a really good knowledge of the menu, making recommendations for eats and drinks, which always goes down well with me. I'll definitely be going back again soon to have the Pollo Pesto again soon, and am tempted to suggest a lunch trip with my work pals to try out the Insalata Calabrese, too.
Bella Italia is at 136 High St, Watford WD17 2EN. The restaurant paid for our bill in exchange for this honest review.
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