Yesterday Shauna (another blogger in Inverness) took a trip to Bella Italia. My work’s Christmas party had been there and as I had sorted the meal out for our team, I got a voucher for a free main course to use up before mid February. It was a nice treat, considering that I usually live on a vat of soup and pitta bread during weekdays.
I always feel a bit cheated when I read a review of a chain restaurant, as surely, they are all the same. But Inverness is a bit different, as independent restaurants outnumber the chains (at least I think they do, there’s no actually number crunching behind that statement), and they mostly are of excellent quality – so chains really do have to work hard here to get the repeat custom.
Here’s where I say that my Italian restaurant of choice is Zizzi – I find the menu more varied than Pizza Express, and the ingredients of a higher quality. Plus of course too I can use my Tastecard there. So I was interested to see how Bella matched up .
The interior feels very family friendly and warm, more homely than other italian restaurants, and I liked the booths (slightly out of shot in the pic below).
The offerings on the menu were extensive, with many options additional to the usual pizza/pasta favourites.
For me: Figetta di Spagola (£12.95) – Butterflied seabass fillet with a warm salad of roasted new potatoes and red onions, green beans, black olives, plum tomatoes and a fresh herb & garlic salsa verde (which i spread over the fish)
Shauna opted for the Speck Pizza Vita (£9.75): Long, thin and crisp wholewheat bases topped with rich cherry tomato sauce, lemon dressed baby spinach and rocket, garlic chestnut mushrooms, speck ham and Granello cheese.
We were both happy with our choices – Shauna noted that sometimes you can feel shortchanged when you go for the ‘lighter option’ – but the sauce was good and it certainly looks like the toppings were plentiful on the wholewheat base. As for my seabass, it was a good choice – the fish was flaky and the salsa verde worked well with the fish and accompanying veg. I would have liked some more green beans though.
With the discount (unusually, we got the more expensive meal free which got a big thumbs up), we paid £12.20 for two mains and a soft drink. I’d return to Bella for a quick weekday lunch (in and out within the lunch hour) or a fun group dinner. I’m also intrigued about the breakfast menu – as far as I’m aware Bella is the only major Italian chain offering this, and there aren’t many choices in Inverness to go out for breakfast, so maybe we’ll try that soon!