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Family-owned restaurant Bella has been an integral part of the Wolverhampton food scene since 2001. Described as the city’s ‘best restaurant’ by many of its visitors, Bella boasts a traditional Italian a la carte menu which includes fresh fish, meats, a selection of pasta dishes, pizzas and chef's specialities.
Located in Chapel Ash, just a short walk from the city centre, the restaurant itself is smart. Boasting a bright and contemporary interior, crisp white napkins and nicely polished glassware sit atop dark wooden tables.
On arrival, my partner and I experienced a warm welcome from the polite staff and were shown over to our window table - the best seat in the house.
The menu boasts all the mouthwatering Italian delights that you’d expect to see. We started with a selection of home-baked breads with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar from Modena. The breads, all four varieties, were nothing short of outstanding. Different from one another in both flavour and texture, they were baked to absolute perfection. My favourite of the four showcased a churros-like texture and was brushed with herbs and salt. Divine.
After much deliberation over the starters menu, we settled on my partner’s favourite, calamari, and parma ham DOP with buffalo mozzarella, seasonal fruit and a chilli & honey glaze. The latter was served with a piece of delicious bread. The calamari was cooked nicely. The batter was light, ensuring it didn’t mask the flavour of the squid, and the lemon mayonnaise that came with it was a tasty accompaniment.
You can’t go wrong with the time-honoured combination of parma ham and buffalo mozzarella, and Bella’s offering was devoured in no time at all.
My partner and I like meat, fish, pizza and pasta to equal degrees, meaning that whenever we visit an Italian restaurant, we always struggle to choose our main courses. The fish section included chargrilled swordfish marinated in garlic, lime & red chilli and king prawns and shrimps in brandy, garlic & tomato with a creamy sauce.
The meat section featured calves liver pan-fried with marsala and red wine sauce, a rack of lamb with a herb crust, and an 8oz fillet steak served on a panella, topped with lobe of foie gras and black truffle finished with a Rossini sauce.
You can also choose from a selection of eight pasta dishes, a further six signature pasta dishes and five pizzas, all of which can be served as a calzone for an extra £1.
In the end we opted for the smoked salmon and mascarpone pizza and the 11oz rib eye steak from the specials menu. We saw the words ‘white pizza base’ and automatically assumed that the salmon pizza would come with a creamy white sauce base - something that we love but can rarely find. Looking back on the menu, however, it clearly stated that all pizzas included mozzarella and tomato. Oops! Although not what we thought we’d ordered, the pizza was cooked nicely and featured a generous amount of salmon. I regret not ordering a pasta dish instead, but that’s entirely my own fault for being too hasty and not reading the menu correctly.
The steak, on the other hand, was everything we wanted and more. The meat itself was of a high quality, beautifully cooked, and provided a stunning melt-in-the-mouth experience. The beef was served with sautéed mushrooms and perfectly cooked hand-cut chips. As nice as the steak was, the real star of the show was the insanely good porcini sauce. The depth of flavour was something of a triumph; it was without doubt the nicest mushroom sauce I’d ever eaten.
Following a short breather, we tucked into our desserts. As the saying goes, the test of a good Italian restaurant is its tiramisu, so not surprisingly that’s what we ordered. It was exemplary. Served in a tall glass, its texture was smooth and velvety and its cream & coffee flavours were perfectly balanced. I highly recommend ordering one if you visit. We also shared an appetising mille foglie, which featured nicely cooked pastry layered with fresh berries and crema pasticcera.
Having now tried Bella for myself, I'd certainly agree that it’s one of Wolverhampton’s best restaurants. The food is tasty, of a high quality and nicely presented; the staff are friendly and attentive. If you’re in the area and love Italian food, this is your spot. **** Lauren Foster
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