In the last few years the number of restaurants in Watford has improved tenfold with a number of large chains appearing but when I saw the sign for Bella Italia last month I was ecstatic. I’ve been to this chain of Italian restaurants a number of times before and always had a good experience. When we go out as a family for dinner we love Italian food but we have to cater for my auntie who doesn’t eat pizza or pasta so somewhere with great grill options are always a huge plus.
The restaurant itself opened at the end of March and I had already been to the dry runs’ which took place a few days before and enjoyed some amazing food so when I was invited back to do a review meal it took me mere seconds to hit respond. I was lucky enough to be able to go with up to 4 people so I took along my mum, my brother Dan and his girlfriend Jodi on a Sunday evening. The staff at the restaurant are so friendly and accommodating that it really did put a few other chain restaurants to shame.
After our orders were taken our drinks were quickly brought out. Myself and my mum were pretty boring and just had diet coke (I was super exhausted after an obstacle run so could not face alcohol), but Dan had a bud and Jodi an Amaretto Sour which I have to admit did look amazing even though I am not an Amaretto fan.
The restaurant itself is well lit, the tables well laid out and with some pretty awesome artwork on the walls. The whole feel – despite not being too busy – was very cosy and inviting which is always a plus. The starters arrived pretty quickly with calamari for both myself and Jodi, pizza spirale which is dough sticks stuffed with mozzarella for my mum and Bruschetta for Dan. The presentation was gorgeous and I had to force everyone to hold tight for a few minutes so I could take photos. The starters were a really good size especially the bruschetta which was huge. The calamari was one of the best I have tasted as it was breadcrumbed rather than battered before deep frying so it tasted crispy and you could taste more than just the battered outside.
I had had the pizza spirale before but had to indulge myself again and try my mum’s and my god if I didn’t have a cheese and bread obsession before I do now! The mozzarella was soft and stringy and the dough soft and just amazing. The waiters were great and spotted the right moments when our plates needed clearing without feeling like they were hovering over us.
The mains didn’t take long to arrive and Dan had the Pizza Marco Polo which was a Chinese themed pizza with shredded duck, spring onions and plum based sauce on top. The pizza looked (and smelled) really nice and was truly unique and again it was eaten up so quickly. The rest of us opted for pasta with Jodi having Panzerotti Funghi which was pasta stuffed with a mushroom, spinach and cheese sauce, my mum had the Pasta Capra which was curly spaghetti with peppers, onions, goat’s cheese and a Pomodoro sauce and I opted for the tagliatelle Pomodoro.
Despite being a little on the stuffed side dessert was a must because why not?! Jodi had my favourite from last time the Cookie Dough Lava Cake which is a complete chocoholics dream (and diabetes nightmare), it is likd a softly made chocolate chip cookie with pools of chocolate sauce inside and topped with ice-cream. Safe to say it was amazingly soft and gooey and so sweet. Dan opted for tiramisu which he inhaled in about 2 minutes flat so safe to say he enjoyed that. My mum had their limoncello Meringue Pie which was quite sweet for a lemon dessert with crispy short crust edge and meringue on top. And finally, I opted for something from their gelato cart. I had scoops of mint chocolate chip, honeycomb and chocolate which was covered in popping candy (yes I am a child at heart) and it tasted exactly as you’d expect, amazing.
By the end of the meal we were well and truly stuffed and completely humbled by the generosity of the staff at the restaurant. Normally when we head to restaurants there’s at least one dish which isn’t raved about but absolutely everything we all had was spot on.