Good Italian restaurants in London.
Good Italian restaurants for a fun party meal in London don't get much better than Bella Italia in Covent Garden. We have had experience of birthday parties at various Bella Italia Italian restaurants around the country with different ages and all those special meals were memorable for the right reasons. This Italian restaurant review is aimed at those looking for a warm ambience, traditional Italian menu and value for money
On my student daughter's recommendation following her successful graduation fun party at Bella Italia's Italian restaurant in Henrietta Street Covent Garden London, we also tried the restaurant chain in a modern city setting in the south of the UK. We weren't disappointed.
Following a tip from my daughter, we popped in early to the restaurant to enquire about space and booking for a son's tenth birthday party. This turned out to be a wise move as she had advised us that she had a really fun time at her Italian theme party by introducing herself to the restaurant staff first. Sure enough, after booking us an appropriately-sized spacious table, our waiter took down some details - the child's age, name and where he would like to be placed at the table.
When we returned, it seemed that the same waiter had been assigned to us and had arranged to decorate the table in festive party mood! The restaurant was already very atmospheric with its dim lights, baroque ornate Italian effect furnishings, mirrors and decor - and had a cosy ambience. Added to this was a bunch of Helium balloons, a crayon activity pack and a surprise for later.
The waiter (I was assured by my well-travelled daughters that he was genuine North Italian!) was very attentive and took our order quickly and accurately. There is a £7.99 two-course option Italian menu at lunchtimes and although the choices are obviously going to be limited, we all found something we liked. Both the pasta dishes (penne and linguine) however had a tomato-based sauce - a cream based sauce would have offered a little more variety. The other choice was pizza, so the birthday person chose from' a different menu and had Lasagne. The Bruschetta with roast vegetables starter was just the right size portion and had an authentic olive oil and basil flavour. The Caesar chicken salad was fresh and crisp and ample for a starter.
The drinks arrived pretty smartly, as did the starters, but the mains were a little slower. However, we were in party mode and the wait didn't affect our enjoyment of the Italian restaurant experience. One of the restaurants has an open kitchen which added a jolly air of bustle with the added advantage of being able to see how clean the kitchen was. We were impressed. The toilets also were spotless, well-appointed, with historical decor touches.
My daughter had recommended the Tiramisu from the dessert menu but the older members of our little party were already full-up, though the younger members enjoyed the basic but tasty chocolate ice-cream. This arrived with a brandy snap, three waiters, a sparkly candle and a rendition of Happy Birthday with the child's name pronounced right and lots of smiles!
For an economy recession-beating meal out, the Italian restaurant Bella Italia was fun for kids and older people alike - which may have accounted for the healthy bookings here compared with other restaurants in the same area. The restaurant was about half-full with a clientele from theatre-goers to parents with buggies on a Friday - all presumably,like us,looking for value for money in these difficult financial times.
Would we go there for a fun time again? The crucial test. Yes, definitely. If all you want is a good value Italian menu, a mediterranean ambience and a package where you know what to expect and how much it's going to cost, then Bella Italia is a good choice whether in London or the provinces. This restaurant review has concentrated mainly on those requirements and we weren't disappointed.
image credit: spjwebster flickr