We have our go-to places to dine with the kids in Newcastle but it's always nice to try somewhere new right? We were invited along to sample the new Bella Italia in the Grey's Quarter of intu Eldon Square this week and popped in before our trip to the Tyne Theatre to watch Beauty and the Beast.
First things first - the staff took our drinks order straight away, brought the kids over some bread sticks to nibble on plus a festive work sheet to keep them entertained. Our server Helen was simply fantastic. She immediately built up rapport with our table and was quizzing Harry about his favourite Harry Potter characters (as always he had brought his book along).
Now I don't know why more restaurants don't provide complimentary breadsticks for kids on arrival. It must cost them pennies but it makes a massive difference to us parents. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, Jack seems to have no concept of time when it comes to dining out and will usually start crying/moaning/whinging as soon as he's ordered that he's starving and he continuously asks when the food is coming. Breadsticks prevented this from happening and our experience was pretty much stress free. Thanks Bella Italia!
They make everything as fun as possible for kids at Bella Italia right down to choosing your own straw (that they can take home). Believe me when I say that Bella Italia have absolutely nailed dining with kids.
The children's menu at Bella Italia is a real bargain at £5.45 (ages 2-6 years) for three courses, re-fillable drinks, nibbles, a worksheet and crayons plus a special Bella Italia curly straw to take home. This price increases to £7.25 for 7-11 year olds. My three all went for cheesy garlic bread to start which they demolished in no time.
Then to follow it was a Pepperoni pizza for Harry, Fish and Chips for Jack and Plain Pasta for Heidi (which was her choice - weird!). All very good and eaten with no complaints.
Another reason to love Bella Italia is that they have a specials menu. I always like to see a seasonal specials menu and again, would love to see more chain restaurants doing this. To be honest, you can order pizza or pasta in any chain restaurant and it will all be very similar. A specials menu sets Bella Italia apart and is the chance to try something new. Steve and I were immediately drawn to their festive offerings.
Steve ordered the Pollo Pate served with fig chutney. He loved it but did say the bread could have been a little more toasted. This is really picking faults though.
I went for the smoked salmon with orange, mascarpone, fennel, radish and rocket. It was delicious - who knew salmon and orange would be such a nice combination? It was very fresh and light so perfect if you're out for a three course feast as we were.
Onto the mains and again we ordered from the seasonal menu. I knew as soon as I spotted it that Steve would be ordering the Venison and Beef Tortelli. Bella Italia is not your typical chain and they source their pasta from Agnesi - the oldest pasta makers in Italy and their cured meats come from two family run Italian Charcuteries. The quality is impressive. I can usually not resist a pizza but Steve's pasta dish has convinced me to try Bella's pasta on our next visit. Steve's pasta was rich and served with lots of sauce - he gave it a massive thumbs up.
I always like to browse a menu online before visiting somewhere and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I spotted a festive pizza - Pigs in blankets, fig chutney, roast chicken, red onion and fresh sage all served on a pizza - yes please! It lived up to my expectations and although not the finest pizza I've ever eaten, I still loved it and think it's a quirky alternative to a roast dinner this festive season. I am so pleased I ordered this. I can confirm that pigs in blankets, fig chutney and pizza are indeed a match made in heaven. I might actually recreate this at home - Christmas leftovers pizza anyone?
We were starting to get a little pushed for time and to be honest, I wouldn't have ordered dessert if the kids dessert hadn't already been included (clever marketing Bella Italia) but the staff assured us they could get desserts out asap so we just went with it. Heidi ordered a 'create your own gelato' which involved heading over to the ice cream cart and selecting the ingredients for her own creation. She loved doing this! The boys went for chocolate brownie which is the standard dessert they always order and they thouroughly enjoyed it.
Steve and I spotted Chocolate Orange Fondant on the festive specials menu. Served with Vanilla gelato and amaretti crumb it was heaven on a plate. It's not often we'll order a full three courses but it was definitely worth it on this occasion.
For years now Frankie and Bennys has been the kids' favourite restaurant and I think we have maybe dined there more than 50 times now. Steve and I have always just found it to be average but it was still ok and we went because the kids loved it. Bella Italia however, has been a game changer for us. The kids declared that Bella Italia has replaced their no1 restaurant and they want to come back again soon. For me, it has been one of the most stress-free dining experience ever. The children's menu is very good value, the grown ups menu is nice too and I would say Bella Italia are definitely one of the better chain restaurants we've been to. I really would recommend.
Find out more: www.bellaitalia.co.uk
Disclosure | We received a complimentary meal in return for an honest review.
Pin me for later