A couple of weeks ago, my beautiful bestie and I visited the new Bella Italia in Burton-on-Trent. I had never visited a Bella Italia chain before so I was very much looking forward to trying something new. I’d never heard bad reviews of it but what I had heard is that Bella Italia have undergone a major makeover which only heightened my excitement to be going.
Arriving at Middleway Retail Park, the big bright lights shining, you really cant miss this place. It looks really smart from the outsie looking in although the smell of Nando’s right next door takes you away from your thoughts of the place. Dashing in out of the cold and the strong smell of Piri-Piri chicken, we are greeted in the foyer by a beautiful blue Vespa in front of a backdrop of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Continuing through to Front of House and we are taken to our seats, a cosy booth with a great view of both the bar and through to the kitchen, not to mention the gelato cart. All the while reminding me I couldnt possibly have one if I didn’t eat all my dinner. Being able to take in the rest of the atmosphere and noticing some homely Italian themed features throughout. I love the decor, no two walls are the same. The word ‘Limoncello‘ painted across the first section of the left wall as you walk in with some brilliant light fixtures made with colinders in the Italian flag colours hanging down, creating ambiance for the tables below it. The bar, featuring precisely placed bottles of Aperol, Prosecco, Italian wines and of course, Limoncello along with plenty of those sweet San Pellegrino cans lining glass shelves. The far wall, home to the kitchen which almost looks like a widescreen movie, embossed with the words ‘Just Like Mama Makes It‘ above the window. The wall to the right as you walk in, in bright red and white, ‘Pasta Agnesi‘ painted across all big and bold showing how proud they are to be using real Italian sourced produce in the restaurant.
Our hostess for the evening was very knowledgable in the cocktail department, my kinda person! I asked for her recommendation and we landed on the Strawberry Tereso – a combination of Grey Goose Vodka, Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup and Strawberry Jam all shaken up and served over crushed ice with a hint of one of my all time favourite drinks… Lemon San Pellegrino. Its sweet, sour, tangy and strong, everything you could possibly want from a cocktail and moderatly priced at only £5.95. Heather opted for a very good looking Espresso Martini, Grey Goose Vodka, Tia Maria and fresh Italian espresso, shaken not stirred and served straight in a Martini glass. The £4.95 is worth every penny purely for the delicious aroma it brings to the table.
Whilst making ‘mmm‘ noises in between sips of our cocktails, we took to the menu and perused the variety of dishes Bella Italia has to offer, a tough desicion in all honesty, I could have eaten everyting on it just hold the mushrooms. By the time the waitress arrived at the table (after the second for needing more time!) we had made our choices and placed our order. One Gamberi starter for me, baked king prawns in a garlic and chilli butter served with ciabatta and some Pizza Spirale for Heather, baked mozzarella filled pizza dough with an accompanying spicy arrabiata sauce.
They tasted even better than they looked and were served piping hot so we knew they were freshly made. They were really good sized starters and super tasty too. The prawns will set you back £6.55 but you get what you pay for, they are absolutley huge and cooked to perfection. I’d pay that just for the slice of ciabatta though, it was delicious. The twisted pizzas came in at £4.95 which is a really good price, you get three sticks jam packed full of filling mozerella and the dip has a really nice heat to it if you are looking for something with a bit of spice.
Onto the mains next and my giant Pepperoni Picante pizza arrives at the table in all its crispy glory along with Heather’s super smart looking Amore Formaggi filled pasta. The pizza, bigger than my face and covered in thickly cut Italian pepperoni and green chillies, stonebaked to perfection leaving the centre cheesy and gooey and the crust crisp and crunchy, well worth the £8.95. With just the right amount of kick from the chillies and a very genourous portion of pepperoni, you couldnt possibly leave hungry. The pasta, packed with four different types of cheese, covered in a basil pesto sauce and dressed with semi-dried Pachino tomatoes, you almost miss the fact the pasta is indeed heart shaped, almost too cute to cut into. Its a pricy dish at £11.95 but from what I gather judging by the silence at the table during the main course, it was serisouly good and worth every penny.
We did well, both plates were clear and all morsels demolished and devoured. That can only mean one thing…. DESSERT! Bella Italia have a brilliant dessert menu which is not usually a common factor in chain restaurants, there is a wide range of Italian style dessert to choose from and they all sounded truly scrumptious but how could we not treat ourselves to the gelato cart. I mean, it was staring at us the whole time we were there just asking for us to have one.
Shelves laden with sweet treats and toppings to create your own peronal gelato creation. Candy floss, jelly beans, chocolate tagliatelli and crushed Amaretti biscuits to name a few. The flavours available are all so tempting with Sumptuous Strawberry, Bubbly Bubble Gum and Cocotella on offer, we pondered over the options for a while and after a taster of a few, made up our minds and were brought our gelato to the table in some form of gelato artistry. Perfectly layered and decorated with our chosen toppings and sauce in a beautiful glass and a spoon long enough to reach the bottom without getting sticky fingers, we were in gelato heaven. Three scoops for only £4.75 is an absolute steal but it will leave you wanting more for two reasons, it tastes fantastic and there are so many combinations and flavours to try and secondly, gelato is made with milk and churned much slower than if it was cream for ice cream. This means there is less air making the gelato denser, silkier and softer not forgetting the fact it also has less fat than ice cream, the conclusion, gelato is good for you! That’s what we told ourselves anyway…
Polished off in minutes, my raspberry sorbet, cocotella and bubblegum concoction topped with candyfloss, whipped cream, chocolate tagliatelli and strawberry sauce was incredible and I certainly could have gone back for a second serving.
What I find really admirable about this place is that the staff were unaware that we were there on a complimentary review basis meaning the customer service we recieved was genuine and it was faultless. They were so nice, friendly and knowledgable. They wanted to get to know their customers and show off their passion and enthusiasm about the food and I love that. I can gauruntee you will recieve exemplary customer service when you visit, they should be extremely proud of that fact too.
If you find yourself in the area, this place is so worth a visit. The makeover has really brought it up to date and has so much on the menu to make you want to go, time and time again.
Keep your eyes peeled for my Bella Italia Competition coming live to Sherry Scribbles in the next few ays where you can win a meal like this for 2!
Middleway Retail & Leisure Park
Burton on Trent
*We visited Bella Italia on a complimentary basis in return for an honest review on my blog.