GIVEN that I have an aversion to Italian food, you’d be forgiven for wondering what possessed me to visit an Italian restaurant.
But I’ve usually found that no matter what the cuisine’s origin, there is usually at least a nod towards ‘English’ food so that people like me can mingle with those who have a taste for Mediterranean fare and not feel left out.
This can be a varied experience; it has to be said, as some exotic establishments have an odd idea of what constitutes good old English grub.
However the Bella Italia in Cheltenham’s Promenade was more than equal to the challenge of a fussy eater.
The pasta-loving Mrs Kirby had fancied calling in at the Bella Italia on a couple of occasions and when we finally managed it, I was surprised by the size of the dining area, as it looks a pretty small establishment from the outside.
I was also impressed by the rustic charm of the décor – a wooden floor, panelled walls and none of the chrome and glass that many chain restaurants seem to go for.
These may seem small points, but in my humble opinion they add to any dining experience and the traditionalist in me certainly liked the set up.
After being warmly greeted we were shown to a table and sat in very comfortable chairs.
The lighting was just right, allowing for an intimate feel without the need for me to squint into the darkness as I browsed the menu.
The ‘English food’ on offer includes a rump steak (£16.25), which I settled on, both of us having decided to forgo a starter. My wife went for the rather more Italian-flavoured Pollo alla Crema (£9.45), which I gather is chicken breast with red onions, roasted peppers, smoked pancetta and casarecce pasta tubes in a white wine sauce, topped of course, with Parmesan shavings.
My steak came with rosemary roasted new potatoes, a spicy sauce and salad. Although not the largest steak I have ever eaten, it certainly counts as one of – if not the best cooked I can remember. It really was worthy of praise as was, I’m told, the aforementioned Pollo alla Crema.
The desserts were just as pleasing. My Cioccolato Diavola (£5.25) was superb, while the Molti Strati £5.25) my delightful dining companion tucked into was amazing.
As you’d expect, the Bella Italia offers a wide range of Italian wines, as well as a good selection of beers.
At a total of £48.95, including some very fruity wine, we left the Bella Italia feeling that we’d been given excellent service and delicious food at a reasonable price.