Bella Italia, Holiday Inn, New Delhi

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Holiday Inn, Aerocity recently opened a wonderful new Italian restaurant called Bella Italia. Bella Italia is a branch of the UK based Bella Italia chain of restaurants and brings in the same liveliness and verve to Delhi, where frankly not too many good Italian restaurants are present.

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As the photographs will show you it is a bright and happy place with two tiers and plenty of seating and a great open, casual feel. The upstairs also has a smoking section and arrangement for a buffet (which I believe is yet to begin).

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Our meal began with a sharing board, Piatto di Carne, that had a number of cold cuts like Speck Ham and Mortadella along with some great accompaniments like olives, sun dried tomatoes and bocconcini and a big piece of ciabatta.  The meats are mostly imported from Italy and each has a different taste and texture and balances the entire plate perfectly.

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The menu at Bella Italia is comprehensive and even vegetarians should have nothing to complain about here. In fact the next two starters we had were vegetarian, a classic bruschetta and a beautiful ciabatta with roasted peppers and feta on top.  Both wee superb but the roaster pepper ciabatta was my favourite and easily a signature dish for Bella Italia.

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The next two starters were Polpette (chicken meatballs in a tomato sauce) and Gamberi (prawns in garlic and chilli butter) . The chicken meatballs were decent though a little dry from the inside but the prawns were a grand success.  Beautifully cooked in a rich, tangy, herby butter sauce was worthy of repeat servings.

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For all worrying why there is no mention of pizza till now, good news! Bella Italia does a wide variety of pizzas and they are all the way they are supposed to be, thin, crisp and delicious. My pick is the Pepperoni Picante, a delicious, meaty pizza with roasted onions, juicy pepperoni and fiery chillies.  A combination to really satiate your taste buds.

Another great tasting pizza is Pollo Pesto pizza that a different basil pesto base with roast chicken and mushrooms on top. To be honest you can pick any pizza and will not be disappointed.

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Bella Italia also does a healthier whole-wheat base version of the regular pizza called Pizza Vita and it tastes just as great.

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In the pasta section I tried the superb pollo pesto gnocchi here. Fresh home made pillowy gnocchi was drenched in a basil pesto sauce and had all the favourtie Italian flavors like roasted peppers, roasted chicken, Padano cheese and sun dried tomatoes.   If ever there was a dish I am willing to come back for it was this.  A good pasta looks deceptively simple when it comes together so beautifully but the balance on this was spot on.

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There are a plethora of desserts at Bella Italia but my pick would be the Limoncello Meringue Pie and the classic Tiramisu.

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The Limoncello really makes a difference here as it sings in your mouth and cuts through the very sweet pie otherwise.

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The tiramisu is a ubiquitous dessert at every Italian restaurant but Bella Italia does it better than most and the secret for me is their much superior Zabaglione which is rich and flavourful.

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Go to Bella Italia as it has great food, lively ambience and experience a new star in the Italian restaurant space in Delhi.