Belles Night Out

Bella Italia, for ladies who missed lunch

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Bella Italia

45 The Mall
Greater London
W5 3TJ
Tel: 020 88405888

Opening hours

Sun - Thurs 09:30 - 23:00
Fri & Sat 09:30 - 23:30

The Walpole

Eating Out

Full English With An Italian Twist - Carluccios

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Four women with only one thing on their minds... FOOD. Strike that, four women, two things on their minds... Food and WINE...

Bella Italia wasn't at its most packed when we descended on it on a Tuesday evening, but staff had more than enough to do keeping up with four busy mums' insatiable appetites.

One of the four had the excuse of pregnancy. The rest of us just had no shame as we impatiently set about ordering olives and bread to tide us over before choosing our starters.

Our waiter was very attentive and Italianate, although I must confess to having doubts over the authenticity of his accent. But given our starvation, who were we to quibble over his origin just as long as the food came presto, and it did.

Lady Number One (that's me) and Two chose the Gamberoni -
'King prawns baked in a garlic, tomato, chili and basil sauce with toasted focaccia bread' (£5.45).

Lady Three opted for Insalata Rucola - 'rocket salad with shaved parmesan & balsamic dressing' (£3.50)'. Not strictly a starter as you could tell by the mountain that appeared. It disappeared soon after.

Lady Four went for Calamari - 'squid, floured and deep-fried until golden served with lemon mayonnaise' (£4.50).

The two of us having king prawns wolfed ours down in time to taste our companions' without having to offer any back and I would say all our starters were pretty good.

Main courses were more tricky to decide on after being informed that there was only one portion of chips left in the kitchen. After much politely restrained squabbling over who would have to give up the chips I admirably stepped out of the deliberations and opted for the Chef's special (£8.95) – linguine with mussels. It was exactly as described - not awe inspiring but pretty tasty.

Lady Two went for Pollo alla Griglia - 'chargrilled chicken breast with a dolcelatte, white wine and cream sauce, served with garlic mushrooms, fries and rocket & tomato salad' (10.25). Yes, she got the fries...

For Lady Three, the Penne Fresco - 'Goat's cheese, cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach and extra virgin olive oil, sauteed with penne pasta and topped with toasted pine nuts' (£7.95).

Lady Four was another chicken, Pollo Arrabbiata - 'Inspired by the Calabria region of Southern Italy; half a roast chicken coated with a mix of sweet paprika, olive oil, roast garlic, basil, oregano and a hint of chilli' (£9.25). Usually served with fries, but in this case the far healthier option – roast new potatoes. We were all happy with our choices, none more so than Lady Two for obvious reasons.

On the wine front we went for a Rosé - Pinot Grigio Blush, Casa Defra, Veneto (£44.85 divided by three) to maintain the semblance of it being summer. Three bottles later coffee and pudding were a necessity.

The coffee was so good we've vowed to go back there in the daylight with kids, when caffeine is appreciated all the more.

As for the puddings, there is no way I would allow children anywhere near me when I next indulge. These puddings, especially mine, were too good to share, although let it be noted that I did on this occasion.

I was all set to have the cheesecake but our waiter refused to let me leave without experiencing the Cioccolato Napoletano - 'smooth and creamy milk and white chocolate mousse, layered upon a rich dark chocolate truffle base served with fresh cream' (£4.25).

Lady Two had Fondente al Cioccolato - 'warm melting chocolate pudding served with crema inglese' (£4.75), Lady Three had Banoffee Italiano - 'banoffee with a twist! Slices of banana and caramel sauce on a crisp biscuit base, covered with zabaglione cream and sprinkled with crushed amaretti biscuits' (£4.50). And last but not least, Lady Four's Tiramisu - 'authentic Italian dessert with light sponge soaked in coffee and marsala wine, layered with mascarpone and zabaglione cream and dusted with cocoa powder' (£4.25). Lady One (that's me) won hands down as everyone on the table would agree, having nicked large spoonfuls.

Bella Italia did the girls proud. Perhaps one day we might take the men back with us. Nah, who needs men when you've got Rosé and Chocolate pud?


Charlie Canniff

June 28, 2007