We arrived at the Bella Italia discussing that this would be an interesting time to visit. The place is brand new, just opened, and restaurants like Bella are at their worst when they’re brand new, staff are inexperienced and the system is still finding its feet.
We left Bella Italia safe in the knowledge that we had called it correctly. The restaurant wasn’t up to full speed and it wasn’t the usual Bella Italia experience.
Staff were friendly and helpful but still rather green. We were asked whether our food was okay – but only after two out of the three diners had finished, for example.
Two out our three diners are lactose intolerant and one asked for no parmesan on her pasta. The dish arrived with parmesan – and then, as most restaurants do, we were asked whether we wanted more. The extra cheese didn’t spoil that dish as it was possible to eat around it. It was’t worth sending back.
The other pasta dish was supposed to be linguine. We were served fat, round, pasta that was rather like udon noodles. Was this a quirk of Bella Italia in Ocean Terminal? Or a rookie chef popping the wrong pasta into the pot?
My pizza was warm enough to eat and be pleasant – but only just.
The dessert menu looked good but failed to deliver. Of particular interest was a selection of mini donuts that were supposed to come with dipping sauce. They came, instead, with a mixture of stale and fresh donuts that had been covered in the sauce. Such a shame; sharing and dipping them together would have been so much fun.
It’s perhaps too easy to pick up what went wrong with the food – especially as veterans of Bella Italia in its other locations in Edinburgh – so it’s important to stress that the food wasn’t a disaster. It just wasn’t up to scratch. We know Bella can do better.
Bella Italia in Ocean Terminal replaces Potters (formerly Ma Potters) and they’ve done a good job. It feels like a better space. However, when we went, with the restaurant so new, it was painfully rough around the edges. The roll down blinds had yellow watermark stains on them. Most disconcerting was the plethora of bundles of spiderweb cocoons on the outside of the window.
While the restaurant was Potters it was in a fairly rough space in Ocean Terminal. The only thing it had going for it was the proximity to the Vue cinema. However, this floor of the shopping centre has been transformed with the successful arrival of Handmade Burger, Pizza Express and even the Frankie and Bennys. I’ve seen queues of people waiting to get into the restaurants. Bella Italia may well be placed to soak up pre and post-cinema audiences. It’s a big restaurant too; with two “corridors” of tables reaching down off from the main area.
Then plan is to revisit Bella Italia again – in about a month, after the staff and kitchens have found time to find their feet.