Bellissimo Italia!

THEY’VE played around with the menu at Bella Italia since our last visit in the summer.

In have come a few new starters and desserts, plus – what they are most proud of – some additions to its fresh pasta menu.

As a family, we were invited to try the new dishes out. Well, family is what Italian food is all about, isn’t it? And our table resembled something out of a Mafia movie banquet scene when the delightful waiting staff brought out our plates of pasta.

The new ravioli dishes we tried – pollo robiola (£12.95) with sunflower shaped fresh pasta parcels filled with cheese and rocket, combined with roasted chicken in a rich red pepper sauce; and panzerotti funghi (£11.25) with half-moon shaped fresh pasta parcels filled with mushrooms and served in a mushroom and spinach sauce – were lovely, rich bowls of comfort food.

The fillings were full of flavour and the sauces packed a punch. Ideal food for a winter’s night.

The children demolished their creamy tagliatelle carbonara (£9.95), fighting with each other for the crispy rashers of pancetta on top.

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We had started with the new chicken wings Italiano (£6.45), in a tangy balsamic barbecue glaze, served with a cooling garlic and lemon mayonnaise, which proved so popular that the children nearly came to blows when arguing who got the last one. Arancini funghi (£6.25) were also a tasty hit – deep-fried balls of mushroom risotto with a lovely tomato dip. Both were great “messy food”, which was a great excuse to use our fingers!

As for desserts, tops for me was the new orange cheesecake (part of the shot glass desserts – three for £5.25 or five for £7.95), a sweet, creamy, citrussy treat. The morello cioccolato (£5.75), a hot chocolate cake with rich cherry sauce, was also delicious, if a bit cloying.

It was all washed down with some great alcohol-free mocktails, and we left feeling as stuffed as the ravioli.

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What would we do if Italians didn’t make such yummy food? I have absolutely no idea where we would take children for a fail-safe meal during a day out! It’s true that most ristoranti d’Italia offer a good choice in pizza, pasta and antipasti, but if you want a really great selection of freshly-made dishes, in my opinion, you can’t beat Bella Italia.

Bella Italia,14-16 George Street, Oxford 01865 791032 bellaitalia.co.uk

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