Eats, Shouts & Leaves

(Bella Italia, Brighton Marina)

The room has a smart black ceiling.
The lampshades are quite appealing.
The soft seats don’t leave one’s bum sore.
But to converse one has to ROAR.

The acoustics of this restaurant, the over loud and ill-suited foreground music, the clatter and chatter, make normal conversation impossible. Everyone has to talk fortissimo and add to the raucous ear assault. This was experienced late afternoon on a Sunday with fewer than half the tables occupied.

The cacophony had a benefit. One could ignore the recurring solicitations of staff as to one’s digestive welfare. Alas, the enthusiasm masked inefficiency for the place had claimed no knowledge of our telephone booking made an hour earlier.

Billed as a “Selection of breads” the Pane Bella was indeed a selection – of shapes. Just two varieties of dough in the basket, the greater number of white having the much lesser flavour. The dip and lush bodied house Solandia Rosso helped the breadsticks not stick.

Bella Italia Pane Bella with dipBest dish was the Pollo Funghi –
crisp sautés, chicken that was juicy.
The pizza Roma base was thin –
but its topping was just green skin.

The sauté potatoes, aka roast potatoes on the menu, weren’t crisp for long. This meat-and-two-veg (chicken, potato, mushroom) was served as a stack in a bucket bowl rather than laid out on a palette plate. On a plate the textures and flavours could have been blended as desired by the diner. Instead, catering’s craze for bowls turns dining into digging and, in this case, steadily softening sautés. However, the dish was delicious – the food not the bowl.

Pizza Roma Primavera? No, it was Pizza Autunno with five fallen leaves. These courgette shavings – thinner than an aphid’s panty liner – were dotted with all the peas that could balance on a stiletto blade and with a pinch of spring onion microbeads. Parmesan came at the second request, drifting onto the pizza as dust from three swipes of cheese along a thimble grater. The pizza was dissatisfying and left one unsatisfied.

The staff were courteous and friendly, perhaps over keen in this new venue. The food was of variable quality. The drinkable smokey wine inured the two of us from dining in an eating house rather than in a restaurant.

Bella Italia Pollo Funghi, pizza Roma Primavera