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Review: Ciao Bella Delivers Great Humble Italian Food

BY Boon Koh
Published 18 January 2011

Ciao Bella was an Italian restaurant that has been on my Qype “List of Places to Try”, but which I had never gotten around to going to. What piqued my interest when I first heard of it was the restaurant being described serving authentic, home-style Italian food at good-sized portions and reasonable prices. I was hooked!

After having visited the newly-hyped restaurant Trullo at Highbury a few weeks back and being really disappointed (review to come), I approached my dinner at Ciao Bella with hesitation. Often in London, you either get really good Italian food but at exorbitant prices, or really run-of-the-mill fast food type chains (the Zizzi’s and ASK of the world).

I am proud to say that Ciao Bella is neither! It has the feel and look of a family-run trattoria from the outside, and once you step in, the Italian waiters and waitresses all seem to step in sync with one another, as though they’ve worked together for years and are ingrained into Ciao Bella.

The decor and atmosphere in this place is more canteen than fine dining, but it does have its own character and the ambiance makes it quite suited for a reasonably priced romantic dinner.

Prices are cheap for the portions you get; while at other Italian restaurants you will definitely need to order a primi course (e.g. pasta) and a secondi “main” course (e.g. meat or fish), here at Ciao Bella restaurant I found that the secondi courses were quite big servings,and for £2 extra, you can add a side of pasta which will make a well rounded meal. They also serve pizzas as well and antipasti, but if its your first time there, do try their Spaghetti al cartoccio, which is spaghetti and seafood cooked in a greased paper bag. Definitely an experience, and also one of their highlight dishes.

The evening I was there, they also had a very adventurous chef’s special menu, which included rabbit (absolutely delicious) and the traditional osso bucco, which is not the most easiest of dishes to get right.

Do book ahead as it does get rather busy on Friday and Saturday evenings; we walked in without an appointment at the early hour of 6pm, but was told they needed the table back by 7:30pm. But this small little Italian restaurant hidden away in Bloomsbury is definitely now on my Qype list of favourite places in London!

Ciao Bella Italian Restaurant

Address: 86-90 Lamb’s Conduit St, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3LZ
Nearest Tube Station: Russell Square Tube Station (10 minutes walk past Brunswick Shopping Centre and International House)
Booking/enquiry tel: 020 7242 4119
Website: www.ciaobellarestaurant.co.uk