Bella Italia, Hempstead Valley

I was recently invited along to try out the brand new Bella Italia that had opened at Hempstead Valley. Assuming that an Italian menu would mostly be wheat and dairy, and enjoying being an awkward cow at times, I enthusiastically agreed to take my gluten free, vegan backside down to try out their new menu and location.

The restaurant was easy to find, and looked rather pretty in the dark with all the trees outside lit up for that much anticipated thing that's coming soon...what's it called again...erm...Chris Thomas..?

It has only been open for 4 weeks, and there are still a few minor teething problems (i.e. a second fryer that hasn't arrived yet to ensure chips don't get contaminated with that vile beast gluten), but all of the staff are friendly, very accommodating and providing a great service where you genuinely feel like you've been listened to and are being looked after as individuals.

The decor is nice, and I even noticed that the music being played was rather enjoyable instead of the usual sort of wailing, self-indulgent horrors I tend to be forced to listen to over meals out. Definite plus.

Anyway, turns out Bella Italia do gluten free pasta and pizza bases that are also suitable for vegans, and they didn't mind me bringing some Violife along, so me and Bella can hang now. We're cool.

We went for olives and the rosemary pizza bread to start, which was nice, my date for the evening who is able to digest wheat, enjoyed the gluten free pizza base and it was nice to be able to share a starter. Especially one smothered in one of my favourite herbs. Who doesn't love rosemary bread?! Rosemary bread that I'm allowed to eat. Rosemary bread that I'm allowed to eat in public!

I obviously went for creating my own pizza as my main meal, because if any of my options are something vs pizza, I will always pick pizza. The pizza was tasty too, the sauce was fresh and fruity and the chillies gave a wonderful bite, I had a good selection of toppings available to me, and it really is a good gluten free pizza base. I should know, I had it for both meals and I'd do it again, I tell you!

Massive Munch shocked everyone by voluntarily opting for the Superfood Salad minus the ricotta cheese. Sorry, let me just say that again. Massive Munch chose a saladThis is the sort of individual who when cooking for oneself eats pasta with oil and salt. MM could have had pasta with a tasty sauce and Violife on top, but instead chose a salad. It was a nice salad too. Pretty tasty and filling, there were even some leftover chips, which admittedly seemed a little undercooked to me, but I couldn't try them and confirm due to the aforementioned fryer issue.

Overall we had a really pleasant evening; we loved the lemony mural on the wall, the atmosphere was relaxed, the staff were friendly and attentive and I suggest that if you're in the area you pop in and see the rather handsome young Micheal and his huge pepper mill lovely team for some tasty, inclusive eats.

Oh, you'd best rush down there because I highly recommend the Spiced Apple cocktail from their Christmas menu, so I suggest you hurry up and visit before this festive glass of joy and good cheer is no longer available. It must be drunk!


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