Saturday, 12 March 2016

Restaurant | A culinary tour of "Italian" Manchester with Bella Italia

2016 marks a landmark for Bella Italia in Manchester. The popular italian chain restaurant have been serving diners in the city for 15 years and invited a few bloggers and journos to their restaurants to try some of the food on their menu whilst learning a thing or two about the italian history of Manchester.

We started our journey at the Arndale restaurant. The team at Bella Italia have revamped their menu in recent years using ingredients sourced directly from Italy for many of the dishes served at their restaurants. The sharing platters we were served perfectly highlights this. The cured meats on their calabrese antipasto board includes cured meats from the San Vincenzo family from Calabria (famous for their Nduja spicy salami) which was absolutely delicious paired with sundried tomatoes and Buffalo bocconcini mozzarella balls.

A selection of starters

How about a “Penny Lick”? 

After stuffing our faces with the delicious starters, we headed off on the first part of the walking tour of Manchester's italian heritage. I have lived in Manchester for nearly 8 years but interestingly this tour took me down roads in the heart of the city centre that I had never even seen! 

 Sue McCarthy, of Green Badge Tour guides, did a fantastic job of informing us of Manchester's italian heritage and it was obvious, from her enthusiasm, that she was passionate about the city and its rich and diverse history. Her tour was so good that I am keen to go along to another one if I have any visitors in the summer. That evening i learnt that the ice cream cone was invented in Manchester, the now upmarket Deansgate was once a hot bed for crime and prostitution, and the city had it's own Italian Sherlock Holmes who was a master of disguise that caught over 1000 criminals!

A great story teller

Main courses were served at the Deansgate restaurant. We had the chance to try a varied selection of their affordable main dishes. Everything was delicious, from the stuffed crust pizza and rich pasta dishes to the lamb shank which literally melted in your mouth. Bella Italia have joined the spiralizing band wagon and have done so in a tasty way. We had a taste of the Gamberoni, on their specials menu, a dish that substitutes spaghetti with spiralized vegetables (carrot, betroot and courgettes) tossed with prawns and a spicy pomodoro sauce. At 259 calories, it was a winner not just being a healthy option but also tasted incredible. Whilst everyone else swigged at glasses of prosecco, I tried the peachberry mocktail which i have since replicated at home as it was that good.

Gamberoni  - Spiralized vegetable ‘spaghetti' with succulent king prawns in a spicy pomodoro sauce.

Amore Formaggi - Heart-shaped pasta parcels filled with four cheeses, in a basil pesto sauce topped with semi-dried Pachino tomatoes

Lamb shank slow-cooked in a garlic, red wine and rosemary sauce, served with mashed potatoes and green beans

The rest of the party carried on to the Deansgate restaurant for dessert but I unfortuantely could not stay. I had a night shift ahead, as the medical SHO at the hospital. So that I didn't miss out on the gelato we had all been looking forward to, the lovely team at Bella Italia gave me a box of a variety of flavours of gelato to take away. I had no shame eating this at the handover meeting later that evening! Although I had "the itis" for the first few hours of my shift, I regret nothing!

Thanks to Bella Italia for a fantastic evening and Sue of the Green Badge Tour for her entertaining and informative tour!





                                        
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2 comments

  1. The food looks delicious! If I am ever in the area, I will have to pay a visit. Your photos are fantastic by the way!

    Jemma | www.thesweetpealife.co.uk

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Thanks for all your lovely comments! - Fikki and Lola xx

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