Editor’s Restaurant Review: Bella Italia, Cardiff Bay

We haven’t been to Cardiff Bay in some time, but my husband and I heard about the new refurb in one of our favourite chains so we thought we’d go and try it out.

I have to say it wasn’t just the lovely new decor, but the whole experience which made for a very enjoyable night out.

Walking past the outside, the place looked much as I remembered it from my last visit, but I didn’t want to eat on the terrace anyway, so we ventured inside.

I’d definitely recommend that other diners do this, you need to go in to appreciate the effort that has gone into creating an authentic italian experience, the interior is fab and looks like a traditional Italian trattoria.  The best thing is that the service has had an upgrade to match.

We got a warm welcome from Tim, the Regional Operations Manager, his management team and our friendly waitresses, Vesta, Monica and Jess, who all introduced themselves and were incredibly attentive throughout the evening.

We ate from the new Italian Feast menu, which offers 2 courses for £12.99 or 3 for £15.99, so excellent value – but it didn’t feel like we were eating from a value menu in a chain restaurant, which is some achievement.

The atmosphere, food and service were all superb and it felt like we were dining in an authentic Italian restaurant, complete with the personal service that high-end Italian restaurants are known for, where staff will chat with the guests, smile and give you personal service.   In fact, the only clue we weren’t in Italy was that Tim had a London accent – but he did make the effort to come over and chat with us, as did many of the other staff that evening!

Of course, the food was why we went and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

We both started with Funghi Arrosto (creamy mushrooms, absolutely stunning!) Portions were generous and as is normal, my hungry husband polished off what I was too full to eat!

I was torn between Parma Dolcelatte and Pollo Funghi for main, but they had me at the word ‘Dolcelatte’. I could not believe how generous the portion was, a stunning combination of parma ham tagliatelle and a rich, creamy dolcelatte sauce, topped with fresh rocket. The flavours worked perfectly together,creating an incredibly tasty dish.

The generous portion beat my tiny appetite.  The waitresses came over  and kindly offered to box up the rest, but no need, again my husband gallantly finished what I couldn’t eat,  as well as his own Polpette Americano (ps the meatballs were also lovely, I had to try one!)

We resolved to do three courses, and my sicilian lemon cheesecake was presented beautifully with a fresh spring of mint and lemon sauce. The lemony cheesecake was refreshing and retained a ‘grown up’ sharpness, which was great after a large meal.

My husband on the other hand, was truly beaten by finishing off my main, so just had creamy gelato from the wide choice on offer. Of course, I didn’t manage to finish mine and this time hubby was truly full, so I felt a little guilty letting a small square go back… but it certainly wasn’t a reflection on the food.

We are not often a couply-couple who stare into each others eyes when dining, in fact at our local pub, the barmen will often joke, ‘are you two texting each other’ because we are both so addicted to our phones! (What is even sadder is that sometimes we are!) 

The venue, the food and the pleasant company and service saw us putting our phones away and socialising with the hosts, who were super-friendly.  Cutting off social media for a few hours made the experience even better, dare I admit it, by the end of the evening we were all soppy, holding hands and talking to each other, the most romantic evening we’ve had in ages. Nice too, that Monica noticed us trying to take a selfie and immediately came over and offered to take a pic of us!

We eat out for food quite a bit, often grabbing a takeaway or a pub meal, but rush our food and race off home. We both agreed we need to do this more often, and at this price, we can afford to.

We’ll definitely be back – thanks Bella Italia for an outstanding evening!