It’s always useful to check in with chain restaurants from time to time, just to make sure no great leaps forward have been made in catering to mass audiences. Today’s visit was to Bella Italia in the heart of tourist land on the Royal Mile.
I’d last visited a branch of this nationwide chain in Chester, a few years back. It had been pretty good and served our needs rather well. I’d visited their “top end” offering, Strada, when it opened in Edinburgh and had been totally unimpressed. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, today.
Their lunchtime menu – the full a la carte is also available – offers two courses for £9.95. From that I started with the bruschetta funghi then followed with their calzone diavola.
The starter soon appeared looking like a complete dog’s dinner. For reasons presumably relating to “presentation” half of the spinach and mascarpone sauce was on the toasted ciabatta slice and half was not. It didn’t taste much better than it looked. It was a very weak opener.
The lunchtime time calzone was another total non-event. It was about the size of a bridie – kudos on the lunchtime portion control, I suppose – and was as bland as you could ever imagine. It was filled with poor quality chicken and moderate sausage, with the casing/base completely tasteless.
I was left to ponder as spiritless an Italian meal as I’ve ever been served.
So overall, Bella Italia was hugely disappointing. With many Italians, such as La Lanterna, Jolly or Mennato’s, offering excellent lunchtime value, this is a place that can be entirely crossed off your list. Its blandness went beyond the inoffensive into the territory of totally shocking drivel. Even by chain restaurant standards this was quite appallingly guff. Avoid.
Blythe scores Bella Italia
1.5/5 for food
1/5 for presentation
2.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 8.5/20
I ate: mushroom bruschetta; calzone diavola
I drank: water
I wore: pinstripes
Total bill: £9.95
Address: 54-56 North Bridge, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1SB