Having moved away from the UK, I find myself salivating at the thought of Ciao Bella's food whilst reminiscing, teary eyed, about the good times I've had at this place. Good thing my friends and I have already put Ciao Bello on our list of things to do when I make my visit next month!
Great nights often started at this restaurant. It was the combination of cheap wine, great food, and warm atmosphere that puts people in the right mood to be adventurous in roaming the city after dinner.
The restaurant is compact, so you tend to get a bit intimate with those around you. Also, there might be quite a wait during dinner time, but you can easily slip on over to the pub next door (The Lamb??) for a few drinks as you wait.
Once seated, you are greeted with olives, cheese and breadsticks, but be careful not to spoil your appetite. My personal favourite was the seafood pasta that came in a greaseproof bag.
Sadly, I always order too much, yet too little...meaning I'd fill myself up on olives and either the avocado vinaigrette or avocado prawn cocktail. All this before my pasta even arrives... not to mention the wine. Did I mention their wine is cheap?
classic little italian in a great location. went here based on the huge number of decent reviews. i'll back them up.
£35 for olives, bread, cheese, 2 pastas - the clams were plentiful, the meatballs may have had more breadcrumbs than meat (reason for 4 not 5 stars) but the spaghetti was beautiful and the sauce big on the garlic...hmmmm. and the house red was perfectly drinkable.
service classic italian style, simple enough, pleasant.
could be part of a perfect evening in bloomsbury, hitting a few stores on lambs conduit, bite to eat at ciao bella and a few beers to wash it down in the local pub. nice.
oh the al fresco seating was plenty warm enough to watch the street go by.
Pretty great Italian food for being in the middle of Bloomsbury, London!
I had the Linguine alle vongole (w/ clams). Perfecto! Great consistency with the linguine, not overcooked and not too raw. The white wine sauce was on point with garlic, and the clams were pretty much fresh.
Service was excellent, and the place is pretty lively for a Sunday night in London filled with people. Most restaurants are closed on Sundays in London, but this one is poppin'.
Oh, it's def legit when the piano guy was playing the Godfather's theme song and had the whole restaurant do the singalong. Too legit!!
Delicious Italian food. Great prices. Fast service.
This place is ace. This is an Italian as a family-run Italian restaurant can ever get, guys. The most appealing aspect of this venue is that it caters to a wide range of budgets and tastes. When I was a broke student, I went there for their hearty and flavourful under-£10 pasta offerings and now I appreciate their really extensive wine list (representing every wine growing region of Italy!) and finer offerings such as their Trout in Almond Sauce - on the bone (or as our Italian waiter said - 'As God made it') - and Duck in Orange Sauce. The seating is certainly cramped given how popular the establishment is but it adds more to the intimacy than to the annoyance really... this place is a gem...
I went to Ciao Bella with friends a few days ago, when we needed a dinner break. Strangely, though I've been to most of the places on Lambs Conduit and have enjoyed them, I'd never tucked into Ciao Bella before.
We sat outside, which was nice since the weather was good, though it's always frustrating to have cigarette smoke wafting over you as you try and enjoy a good meal (there were perpetrators at both my table and others, so I can't totally complain, but it's still a detriment to the outside option!).
The food was really good--though I unfortunately couldn't finish the huge portion they brought me. I had the spaghetti carbonara and was very pleased with it. The prices were good too, for the portion size. It's a lovely authentic Italian place, and certainly one of the better ones I've tried in London. Definitely a good spot if you're looking to carbo-load with some good pasta.
Too successful for their own good makes my review a small ripple in an ocean of customers. The food and house red wine are generally good. The service split between my two visits ranged from prompt but indifferent to could be quite good but is either too busy or too undertrained in service or, possibly, English.
Really, Ciao Bella is worth a visit and, for the most part, will not disappoint, provided you temper your expectations. And remember, a packed house can't be wrong. Right?
That your arrival is greeted with cheese, bread sticks and olives is a really nice touch, especially when you arrive hungry. You will be greeted promptly and offered libations in that same breath. Drinks will be brought quickly and, at that time, you'll be queried for your order. If you're not yet ready, checking back may take awhile, and this will be a running theme.
Stages in the course of your visit are generally executed rapid fire; except check backs. And this includes the main course. There was an issue with my entree making it inedible to me. Despite having consumed everything but the entree, and with salad plate still lingering, a staff member swooped in to grab my plate, while in motion asking if I was finished. When I tried to explain that I hadn't even started, because ... The plate was set back down with a comment about letting me take me time. This missed the point entirely, and before I could explain, this person quickly vanished.
Let's be clear here: they made it right, but not without some effort and frustration. I truly think they mean well and want you to enjoy your meal. However, they seem to lack a certain amount of polish and adequate staffing. That said, I still recommend Ciao Bella. As long as you know what you're in for, you'll likely have an enjoyable experience again and again.
Very cheap and good atmosphere but the wine tasted homebrewed, maybe my fault for letting the waiter chose. The bruscetta was tasty but very far from anything that an Italian would eat. Maybe I have been in Italy and gotten spoiled earlier though. Had the seafood pasta which was very taste. Gave an extra point for it. Just hope I do not food poisoning.
There was a piano player there the evening I went which was nice.
Spectacular for maintaining a feel good Italian grumpy smiley local cosmopolitan organized chaos with good ingredients. Will eat there again. The proprietor's son's haircut is a sensation! Wondering if he will survive the fallout.
We are from Canada, Toronto to be more specific where we have a plethora of
Italian eateries. Visiting London , as we do every year, has made Ciao Bella our
favourite place to eat. After walking London for hours every day we seem to
always agree: "Why take a chance, dear, let's just go to Ciao Bella" . It is a
friendly place where the food is ALWAYS good. My favourite is the Cannelloni
Spinaci/Ricotta. Can't wait to get back this year. Yummy !
This is a great old fashioned Italian eatery.By old fashioned, I mean literally. I'm Italian and I remember growing up surrounded by loud Uncles who always seemed to be fighting. As I got older I realized nobody was really mad, it's just the way they talked to each other.
That describes the atmosphere her perfectly. The waiters are all very cool old school Italiano, busting each others chops and generally behaving like a big family. I love it!
There is a fun piano player and singer that runs through his favorite songs while looking around for some acknowledgement from the crowd. He's a great guy and really enjoys what he's doing.
The food of course is why you walk in. It is spectacular! The pizza is insanely good with fresh herbs and an amazing sauce. The pasta is hime made and melts in your mouth. For dessert, chocolate lovers will long crave the Tartufo Nero!
Ciao Bella is an easy walk from Russell Street station. If you are in London check it out!
Very friendly! Food prices are good. I got half a bottle of wine, soup, dinner and dessert all for about 26 pounds. The staff was great. There was live music and singing. Portions are good size. Easy to find. I might try to eat here again before I leave. A+!
I was traveling alone and found some other americans, they offered to move my table so I could sit next to them. It was a nice gesture.
The only thing better than stuffing tasty pasta down your gullet is doing it whilst listening to a man who moonlights as a Liberace impersonator do a version of Mariah Carey's 'Hero.'
I'll take a moment to let you digest that statement...
It was cold out when we rounded the corner onto Lamb's Conduit Street and saw Ciao Bella glowing (literally) like a beacon of warmth and tastiness. The portions are huge and so spot-hitting you'd be willing to pay just about anything. Luckily the place is also reasonably priced so there's no fear of losing an arm or a leg when the check comes. I'd wager that the only medical procedure you might require is arterial bypass; these guys aren't stingy with the cheese.
It's just a fun family spot with hearty fare. It'll go in my little black book for sure.
Let's be honest -- on the yardstick of tacky Italian restaurant names, Ciao Bella is right up there with "The great Impasta" and "Papa Razzi."
But I quickly shut my cheeky mouth (or rather, stuffed it) when some of the most drool-worthy, fork spinning, bread dipping lasagna and aubergine parmigiana appeared steaming on our table.
I am perhaps the only person in the world that isn't much of an Italian food fan. Their wine is another story, clearly. However the incredible pasta at Ciao Bella could make a believer our of Mr. Atkins himself.
A 1/2 bottle of wine, a large house salad and two entrees for £27? It's amore!
Man, oh, man, this place is fantastic. So hearty, so tasty. Such a great neighborhood place. Wish there was a cookbook by the folks that run this place. Don't think twice - just go.
As we all know - only one thing is important when you go for an Italian meal. You want an authentic Italian family screaming at each other. Now, I don't care if it's real - of if they hire a bunch of Italian actors. I just want to feel like I'm in a mafia movie. This is exactly why we take girls to Italian restaurants for dates. The girl can soak up all the candle and romance nonsense; whilst we're entertained by imagining Al Pacino is going to bust in any second with a gun.
This is why I love Ciao Bella so much. You can get a seat literally right by the kitchen. It appears to be family owned - I assume this because there are always a bunch of Italian people arguing by the cash register. But please, don't be put off. It's not like when us English argue, all bitter and annoying. It's Italian style; it adds flair to the restaurant. And luckily, the food tastes awesome.
My reason for finding the restaurant was quite a sad one. Someone I love was in Great Ormond Street Hospital next door for quite a while. But, this restaurant was so great that for a few hours at a time - our stresses and worries would be lifted. We were in Italy. Sipping wine, eating AGNELLO alle CASTAGNE - and for us males, a mafia movie fantasy being fulfilled.
It can be loud, it can be quiet. It can be romantic, it can be all hustle and bustle. It's a restaurant that changes and somehow seems to magically adapt to your needs. But more than anything the important thing to know is that the portions are generous and it all tastes amazing.
Ciao Bella is the gift that keeps on giving.
First they give you free mixed and spiced olives, delicious little chunks of parmesan cheese, and breadsticks. NICE.
Then they generally give you pretty abrupt and brusque service, all the more to get you sitting, ordering, eating, and leaving quickly. Not quite as nice.
However, they more than make up for it by giving you amazing, fresh-cooked, well-priced, ridiculously tasty pasta. The massive plate of linguine with pesto for £7 is so good that I left the restaurant and immediately began discussing when we could return so I could eat it again. REALLY NICE.
And remember the not-so-nice part? They tried to hurry us along by giving us someone else's order, but then apologised by giving us free pizza bread.
So much to give. The only problem in my book? Ciao Bella gives you such crazy garlic breath that you could slay an army of bloodthirsty vampires with a single exhale. Give it a few minutes before you make out with anyone.
I have been visiting Ciao Bella for the past 10 years now - and love it. I have never had better carbonara in any other italian - and Ive tried quite a few. The lasagnia is amazing and so is the ravioli. If they have white bait on the specials, dont miss it. Ending with a tiramisu is an absolute must.
I agree with the other reviews that it can get noisy but in a way that adds to the charm and buzz of the restaurant.
If you want good wholesome italian food in London - Ciao Bella is a hidden gem!!
Reasonably priced Italian food near Russell Square. Definitely not the best Italian food I've had but it was very good.
The tables are very close together and it is extremely loud inside - can't hear others in your party talking so you end up screaming at each other all night...
We had: Spaghetti alla Bolognese, Penne all'Arrabbiata, Veal Saltimbocca, Insalata di Rucola & Parmigiana, Fresh Salmon with Onion and Red Wine Sauce and Bruschetta. Everything was good - they did better with the main courses than with the pasta dishes.
Pasta dishes are very reasonable in price, but the mains are a bit more expensive.
It was a great time except for the noise level.
Service was just okay.
May or may not return in the future - probably only if invited.
On my first visit to Ciao Bella I treated it as a Pizzeria - how wrong I was. The food is excellent - Roasted rack of lamb with chestnuts is beautiful. The service and decor are ok, and there's a pianist some nights too.
The atmosphere is pretty good most nights because you can generally count on there being a birthday party somewhere in the restaurant.
I'm very jealous of a friend who can call this his local restaurant - at one point he was in every week so the manager knew his name!
Was recommended this place. Called early in the day for a reservation that night. Apparently Friday's and Saturday's get quite busy. The woman was very accommodating and booked the two of us for 7:30. We finally get there promptly and ask for our table. One of the owners scours the book looking for my name, thinking that I'm trying to pull one over on him. Apparently, his Mama took the reservation, but forgot to put it on the books. He said she does this often.
No harm, no foul. We were seated immediately. Ordered a bottle of Chianti, a side and our entrées. The food was amazingly good. The service was wonderful and definitely has that down home Italian hospitality about the place.
Great find and one I'd definitely recommend going to. Just make sure to make a reservation earlier in the week. Around 8pm, it starts to get really busy and queues up. Especially if there are a couple big parties.
Ciao Bella's food is the saving grace. I think their spaghetti and meatballs are amongst the best I've had in London. I've never bothered to ask about it, but the little chunks of Parmesan to nibble on while you wait (is it parm? could be summat else) are divine.
The service is brusque, so if you're going with people who tend to be indecisive, prepare to be scowled at and have the staff walk off. They do this regardless of if the place is packed or just opened and you're the only table. That said, if you're in a rush for something and can get a table, it's pretty easy to be in and out of here with a good meal in your belly.
I think there's a small discount for takeaway dining if you're local, but I wouldn't recommend it. I once called in an order, was told 20 minutes, and then stood there like a plank waiting for another 30 minutes. Had I not already paid, I would've left.
I'd recommend a reservation for nighttime dining. But as a good place for a date? Come on, y'all. It'd be like taking a date to your nana's kitchen.
This place is super-solid. On a Tuesday eve this place was hopping--the outdoor space, the main floor, the basement. And that is because it is solid. I was warned that the pizza was just okay but the pasta was the specialty. They had a great offering of classic pasta and risotto dishes. It wasn't Italy, but my pasta with broccoli was good and the dishes around me looked amazing. The house wine was great too.
Liked the vibe--happening, festive, lively.....everything that is great about an Italian restaurant.
This restaurant is excellent for the buzz as it is always busy with a great volume of people chatting and a pianist come singer in the corner upping the volume levels even more.
The food is good value but not served with any panache - large portion dumped in front of you - more greasy spoon appearance than restaurant
My friend had the veal and reported it excellent whereas I had the Insalata Nicoise which was appalling. The tiramisu for desert was home made and a massive portion flooded in an Amaretto sauce and heavily dusted with chocolate powder.
I doubt if I will bother with this one again in the near future.
Ciao Bella is one of the places I go to at least once a month (I even have it take away sometimes).
I think they have a very good and simple Italian food, nice parmigiano cheese and olives to get you starting. And I like their veals steaks they are just good to have.
I'm a fan ... Though I think their service sucks!
When you live near Little Italy, you tend to know some good Italian. And on my walks home from campus, the buzzing outside crowd caught my attention each time. When it's cold outside and you have people willing to sit outside anyway, you know this place it quite special.
I can say this was quite decent. Like other ethnic restaurants, when the staff, clientele and menus are in the language, I tend to believe a little more than otherwise. Which is the case here. The staff was very friendly and helpful. I appreciate it.
We sat outside and I practiced my limited italienne (thank you music lessons) and ordered a simple pizza. It was a good size, I think at least three people could have been fed with it. That day I was quite hungry and ate more than half by my small self. nbd!
We picked the cheapest white they had and for London it was okay. They had better more expensive wine that I will one day try when I start making money again. The price of the food wasn't too bad for the Bloomsbury area.
All in all I would return for a lovely time.
The first night in London and I met up with my girls for a wonderful meal at one of their favorite haunts, Ciao Bella.
Once seated, we were greeted by the owner (who immediately recognized my friends) and promptly given a coupon for a percentage off our meal. Excellent!
Then we took some time to peruse the menu (which was mainly Italian pasta and fantastic desserts) before deciding.
Let me say that our meal was FANTASTIC. Amazing pasta with large portions. I adore the desserts as I had some of their gelato while my friends shared a ginormous dessert concoction.
The service was brusque but whatever, I'm here to enjoy hanging out with my friends and having a wonderful conversation filled with laughter and good food. This more than fits the bill!
I definitely recommend coming here a bit early. It gets crowded quickly so grab a spot with a date or some good friends and settle in for a great evening.
I did my regular mental IRS (Italian Restaurant Shuffle) of 'oohhh, I really fancy a nice comforting carbonara, but shouldn't I try something different as I'm out?' and the coin fell this time on carboara. I wish it hadn't. This was the blandest I've ever tried. Very little meat, and NO SALT! Hot cream and spaghetti is not tasty!
One of my friends had shellfish, so I didn't try hers (shellfish spends all its life sifting through the poo of other sea creatures and eating it - nuff said) but she said it was ok, albeit also lacking in salt. Friend #3 had to stop eating her pasta halfway through because no amount of extra seasoning would bring it to life. Maybe they ran out of salt, or a safety conscious slug was cooking that night (geddit?), in which case it's a great pity, because it means that I cannot join in with the other reviewers who praise the food here.
The big dark green olives on the table were hard and yucky. There was a hard little lump of parmesan next to them, the size of a newborn's fist. Why? None of us wanted to nibble on a large dry piece of neat parmesan, and the waiter brought his own to us when he came to us, grater in hand. As the room heated up and our cross-table conversation flowed, I keep geting strong wafts of open-air cheese.
Absolutely jam-packed like sardines. I sat facing a huge wall length mirror (as did half of the customers) which was very disconcerting. Although I do have a pleasant face, I don't really need to look at it all the way through a meal. It also highlighted how small the basement seating area was, because resorting to a wall-sized mirror is a pretty cheap and desperate conjouring trick.
Yucky laminated menu which included lurid colour photos of the desserts. Not cool.
This was the real killer. We arrived and were brusquely directed downstairs, and as we walked down, the oddly toneless order 'you must leave by 8pm' (giving us 40 minutes) was called down to us. No questioning whether that would be ok, or stating it politely. Luckily, it was ok!
On arrival downstairs, a very pissed off looking waiter greeted us with a frown and a 'there is no space'. I replied that we had been told we could come down, as long as we left by 8pm. He sighed, said 'ok then', and pointed to a table. We were left to squeeze past the diners on the very close table behind ours, and jam our coats on the back of our chairs. Already fuming, I was tempted to leave. Wine calmed me down, but the surly, frankly shit service continued throughout the meal. When he was cheesing my plate up, the same pissed-off waiter barely kissed my food with a light powdering of the good stuff before huffily, distractedly moving as if to go. When I politely said that I'd like a little more, he sighed loudly before tetchily scratching a bit more on and leaving, again too rapidly.
Don't get me started on how long it took to get the dessert menu or bill. No further attention was paid to us, and I had to resort to waving, which made me feel very rude.
A different, very nice old waiter came to us at the end when we needed change, and he was charming.
Reading the other reviews here, I feel even more cheated. Perhaps this was just an unusually lousy evening, with angry young staff frustrated by the lateness of their much needed salt delivery.
A lovely restaurant. Lovely lovely. After walking past a couple of times and seeing everyone so happy and smelling delicious Italian smells, I went in and my life changed for the better.
Everything on the menu is delicious. The pastas, the pizzas, the mains, the wines - all delicious. It's a general Italian menu, so they have your usual selection of pizza margherita, spaghetti bolognese, and bruschetta alongside more Italian dishes like osso bucco and calf's liver. They also have gluten-free pasta on hand, as many Italians are celiacs.
It's really a neighborhood place: the best time to come is Sunday afternoon, when families who have just been at the children's park at the end of Lamb's Conduit come for lunch. Also, it seems like the waiters have certain hiring requirements (besides being Italian): have a potbelly, have a mustache, be partly balding, and know how to unnecessarily assist a lady up the stairs. My Italian friend likes this place so much that we just went again with her Italian boyfriend (so you know it's authentic!)
The only issue I have is with the downstairs dining room. Upstairs and outside are fine, but downstairs is cramped and noisy and frequently overheated. I'd recommend making a reservation at busy times (7-9 pm, weekend lunch) to avoid getting stuck down there.
Do not let the name put you off,Ciao Bella is a great restaurant offering well above average plates of delicious food - portions are HUGE.
Puts alot of italian ' chain' restaurants to shame.
The only thing is it gets so loud you cannot hear anything as it is so busy - full to bursting with customers every night,and some of the staff are very brusque in manner....but the food and good prices make up for this.
Pasta is great as is the Veal escalope milanese.
A sweet, tasty family restaurant in an interesting (if off the beaten tourist track) part of London. Kinda noisy and crowded, but the piano player was a lovely touch! Completely random decor.
Pastas carbonara and arrabiata were both plentiful and delicious, and prices very reasonable.
Be sure to get the red wine--and make it an Italian bottle! Our server gave us much good-natured grief for choosing a Spanish one.
Would definitely recommend for a good value, and if I lived in London I'd totally go back! Just not a place to have a really intimate evening.
I am at Ciao Bella practically every week. It is cheap, cheerful and has a great friendly atmosphere. The quirkiest thing is the sheer number of birthdays that seem to be celebrated at Ciao Bella. On any given Saturday, there are 5-10 renditions of Happy Birthday, played by one of the regular pianists. The pianists are also open to other requests and are particularly keen on audience participation as long as you have a half decent voice.
The service can be a little slow, but I like to think that this is due to the staff reading the situation and serving those who are in for the duration more slowly than those trying to grab a quick bite. If you mention that you are in a rush, they are usually accommodating.
One of the best value, tasty, and intimate Italian restarants I have been to in London! Prices are cheap (less than a tenner for primi pasta plates, £12-£18 for main secondi meat courses), portions are big, the food is tasty, and service is great. What more can you ask for?
Do try the seafood spaghetti in the bag if you can - that is their signature dish, and they also have a daily special menu which, on my visit, included interesting dishes such as rabbit and traditional Italian dishes such as osso bucco.
Reviewed by The London Insider
I came here on a date and have to say that I was pretty impressed as I work around the corner and had no idea that this place existed. Its cosy and cute and was pretty crowded on a Saturday night. Luckily we had reservations, so we have no trouble grabbing a table but kind of wish that they weren't pushed together so closely. The setup is very reminiscent of the cafeteria style seating from school ie. lots of single tables pushed together in a row creating a massive communal table where you sit directly across from your date. Fun for school but a bit akward for a date.
The thing that I really liked about this place is the food which is fresh, tasty as well as inexpensive. While perusing the menu I cam across a dish described as "seafood in a bag". Sounds strange? Yes. Taste amazing? Strangly, yes!! To be fair the seafood is placed in a bag with your pasta sauce of choice and cooked. It is then brought out, yes, in a bag along with a plate of pasta. The bag is opened and the succulent seafood with creamy sauce delicately covers that pasta. I highly recommend this dish if you happen to like seafood and enjoy eating food out of a bag!
The best thing about this place is the pricing as well. We have two starters, two mains (seafood + veal), 1/2 a bottle of wine and two cappaccinos for only £42.50. Not bad. Not bad at all.
I was taken on a date here a couple of weeks ago, and as your would expect of an Italian, the food was very good.
Although the service was slightly cold, i was served by a older man who seemed to have a small chip on his shoulder, although the other staff seemed smiley enough. I had mussles to start with, which was emormous and I could have stopped after that, I found them delicious though my spanish boyfriend had to think Spanish do them better.. urgh medeterrean competition! We sat outside, and even though it was -3, their were patio heaters which made it bearable with a fur coat on!
The pizzas were huge, and delicious. There were a friendly and lively group of LSE students next to us, drinking Lemon Cello my favourite!
i'd recommend sitting outside for a romantic evening out....
Ciao Bella is perfect for groups- it is cheap, fun and they have large round tables, big enough for 10 people. As soon as you sit down, they give you plates of large chunks of parmesan cheese, olive oil and bread sticks (the service is quite slow so you will be glad of it)
If you can, book ahead as it gets extremely busy- it is a very popular restaurant and is constantly filled with families and large groups. If they are full, they might try and put you downstairs, which definitely isn't as nice. Try and get upstairs next to the window so you can look out onto Lamb's Conduit Street or near the piano (if you are lucky/unlucky they will be playing)
The food is excellent- I can't have cow's milk (boo) but am a massive fan of pizzas and was extremely impressed when they offered to make me up a calzone with buffallo mozzerella. It was delicious.
This place was freaking packed! and it is jam packed like a bunch of sardines downstairs.
I was so tired I can't remember the food all that well, but I remember the plate of olives they served for free! and everyone seemed to be satisfied with their meals... I think this was one of the only italian places I saw while in London.. or maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough.
I haven't actually been to Ciao Bella for an actual sit-down meal. But, I was really impressed with the plate o' yum I had the other day during the Lamb's Conduit Christmas Street Fair. For a mere five quid I got a plateful of meatballs, roast pork (with homemade crisps) and a breaded chicken drumstick. Each item on said plate was dee-lish! This friendly, local Italian resto is now top of my list for the next time I go out for a nice meal. Ciao Bella is steps from one of my favourite pubs too - The Lamb! Yay.
People whose judgement I trust, such as Qyper JuliePH (qype.co.uk/people/JuliePH) , speak highly of this place too! Hmmm ... need to get back there asap.
Within two weeks of first visiting, I came back to Ciao Bella. Everything I said in my first review holds true, and what follows here are more details from a second visit.
I can't say enough good things about this place: it's a great atmosphere; it's local; it's good food; the servings are generous; it's well-priced (pizzas and pastas for £7); they give you free starters of olives and parmesan. Contrary to many Yelp reviews, I find the waiters here to be amiable and efficient.
This time I ordered the canneloni with spinach and ricotta, and it was as hearty and flavorful as my pesto linguine was. A friend ordered a pizza, which had a medium-thick crust and a robust tomato sauce. The pizzas and the calzones are big enough for two kind-of-hungry people or one hungry student.
House wine starts at £12 per bottle.
We barely got in without a reservation on a Friday night around 7:30, so make sure to book in advance if you want to go on the weekend. On a weeknight, however, it's less crowded and you needn't make a reservation.
Huge portions at prices which put the Carluccio's around the corner to shame! The place gets really busy in the evenings and at lunchtimes and I've never seen it more than a couple of empty seats. Well worth making a reservation if you're planning to come with more than one or two others.
The starters and the calzone, in particular, are delicious. Service is attentive and good-humoured and the meals don't take that long to arrive, particularly given the number of people ordering. I've been there plenty of times in the past and will undoubtedly do so again in the future!
EDIT: definitely book ahead, especially on a Friday night, which I've seen get fully booked 2 days in advance. Also had a bad experience with mussels here, but once in 10/15 visits leads me to believe it was more of a one-off.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.