Found in the heart of Mermaid Quay, Strada is one of the many Italian restaurants found in the area.
While it has stiff competition from with the likes of Signor Valentinos and Bellinis just upstairs, Strada holds its own as a great place to find some good quality Italian food.
With a menu that specialises in classic Italian dishes, Strada serve up everything from freshly made pasta and risottos to grilled meats and fish dishes. However, every time I've been there I haven't been able to look past the pizza list. With a mouth-watering variety to choose from, there is a topping available to please every taste bud.
While often overlooked in favour of its upper level rivals, Strada is one of the bays true hidden gems and, in my book, severely underrated considering the standard of food and service.
Well worth a visit.
Right ok so its a chain, not an authentic Italian but I don't care because everything I have tasted here has been very good. It is a very busy place, especially at the weekends its worth booking. The service is good and I like the little touches like providing free bottles of water on your table.
Food wise the foccacia bread starter is so ridiculously moorish I could just eat that alone. The pasta dishes are tasty and the steaks are just amazingly juicy and tasty and served up with yummy fresh veg. In terms of value for money its probably the best steak I've had.
Look out for special promotions and discounts because they usually have deals going to save you a few quid.
Okay, okay, so I'm an American. I thought I'd get that out of the way up front! And, unfortunately, I'm also from one of the foodie capitals of the US, which automatically makes my standards much too high.
I ordered take away on my first night in Cardiff (was in town for business for the week), and thought I'd be safe with a pizza. The service was great, although I must have been a very obvious out of towner as I kept getting asked if I was okay. The girl who took my order even made a side trip to the local pizza shop next door so I'd have a box for my pizza as Strada was out. I thought there was a lot of fuss made, but was happy with the price.
I got back to my hotel and the pizza was already cold, so that might have affected the taste. The toppings were much too large for a pizza with such a thin crust, and my first impression was how pale the pizza was. I don't think it was cooked long enough, and the sauce made everything very soggy so it was difficult to eat. The sausage and artichoke pieces were so large that I needed to cut through them before eating my slice. I'm not sure if that's just how pizzas are served here, or if I'm right in my critique.
Anyway, the customer service was great, five stars, and the food was edible, just nothing great. Maybe I would have done better had I ordered something else.
Celebrating my move up to Cardiff, my lovely and her mother took me to Strada. I've never noticed the Italian restaurant before as it sits in the corner of the Mermaid Quay. The decor is romantically dark, and as any up market place, it has marble everywhere.
I had the Salsicce Mantovana, which for the un-educated like myself is:
Roasted Italian pork sausages on rosemary infused borlotti beans with grilled polenta and chard. The mixture of the spicy meat and beans were fantastic and would love to go back again for a second helping.
The waiter who served us was a lovely, friendly guy. Really made the experience for us.
Prices though won't make friends with your wallet though. It is quite expensive, I remember looking at the wine list and thinking "it better be good and also fold my clothes".
The location is lovely though and would be a treat in the summer as they open their front doors. I can imagine looking over the water on a hot day with a glass of wine and food with a huge smile on my face. Nice.
Like any Italian Strada serves pasta, pizza, salads, meats and fish all of which in my experience are very good (though not exceptional).
Despite being in Cardiff Bay it's not situated in the best of locations (don't expect any picturesque views). The décor inside is nothing particularly special (far to red for my taste), and I think the place is perhaps a little to big, as there are always quite a few tables free.
Ironically I often find that when the restaurant is more packed, service is quick, yet when it's empty I've often been made to wait ages for food (quite bizarre).
In my opinion the best time of year to dine at Strada is in the summer, as they have number of tables outside, and there's nothing nicer than having the sun beating down on you whilst feeling a lovely sea breeze. If you fancy a table outside I recommend you visit quite early as they become incredibly popular as the weather improves.
I know it's a chain restaurant that's been reviewed to death here, but I feel the need to get in and fight Strada's corner.
I love coming here - I really do. The service is fantastic, and one of the main reasons I keep coming back. I've eaten at this particular Strada more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, and can only remember one dissatisfying experience (they were insanely busy on a summer weekend evening, so I guess they weren't prepared for the influx of hungry people).
Anyway, the food is consistently delicious, and tastes even better when it's priced at 2-4-1 (sign up to their email newsletter and a voucher will undoubtedly arrive in your inbox).
This may be an antagonistic sentiment, but I think the pizzas here trump the wilted, flimsy equivalents offered by Bay neighbour Pizza Express.
Strada have now introduced an online table booking service, which you'll definitely need to use, especially if it's a warm summer day and you want a seat in sun.
There are a few Italian restaurants to choose from down at Mermaid Quay, which means there's plenty of healthy competition.
This branch of Strada is very popular and you often have to book a table on Friday or Saturday nights - particularly in the summer when more people feel like spending time in the Bay area.
Their popularity is probably down to the fact their food is tasty and fresh, and good value - and with the added incentive of regular promotions you can easily get a very decent meal at a very reasonable price. Try the Panzerotti Porcini pasta which is stuffed with ricotta, porcini mushrooms and grana padano - delicious! Oh and the dessert menu's Torta di Ricotta (yes, more ricotta) is fab as well, polished off with a tart limoncello digestivo.
Strada also seem to have got their systems in place so that service is swift and customer-focused, and with their new online table booking service they are clearly staying ahead of the game.
You can count the amount of times I've been to Strada in the bay on one hand (if you have 6 fingers) and every time bar once it has been very enjoyable. The exception was so trivial I can hardly remember what bothered me so it couldn't have been that bad.
The decor is smart but cosy, the service friendly and the food has been great. It is also on the list of restaurants Tesco club card bonus point have vouchers for so even a 3 course meal can be relatively cheap.
It's very popular, especially with groups of girls, couples and families at the weekend so to guarantee a table at the weekend its worth booking.
I'd recommend the anchovy pizza (unless you're a slug) with a large jug of water - wow those little blighters are salty.
The service is quick and with a smile. The wine is lovely and moderately priced. I have heard excellent things about pea and ham soups and delicious risotto.
The menus are regularly rotated, so the likelihood is that each time you visit, particularly between seasons, there will be something new to try. I would also recommend the breads for starters, they really are lovely. I believe we had some that was baked with sun-dried tomatoes, which was a really nice way to start the meal.
Strada is a great place to go for a bit of variety- there is Bolognese for those who want something traditional, (its simple but perfectly formed,) then there are fish dishes for those who are a bit more adventurous. All are usually warm and come quickly from ordering at this branch of branch of Strada... and you can sit outside!
Strada is a great restaurant to visit any evening of the week!
You are pretty much guaranteed a seat and the food is always good.
This is the restaurant I most visit in the bay for three simple reasons-
1- The food is basic but very tasty
2- The bill very rarely exceeds £30
3- The waiter (that I ensure serves me every time) has a twinkle in his eye!
If your spoilt for choice next time you go here and your having trouble deciding on what dish you fancy I can recommend the salmon..... Its a bit on the small side but is very mourish!!
As Justin has said......... they also except Tesco vouchers which is very handy indeed!
Strada (who I have a little bit of a beef with because of one poster where they quoted a critic as calling their food 'yummy' - I know it's stupid but is that the best thing anyone has to say about their restaurant? What a non-word - it's like saying. 'Yes, it's nice.' Hmm, great.) are the Topshop of the food world. That is, there food is really good and all, don't get me wrong, but it's just not quite good ENOUGH to warrant that price tag. It's not extortionate but it's too much for Prezzo with added ponce. The service is good (although I am sick of people talking to me in fake Italian accents - you are not all Italian!) and the food is actually pretty tasty. The decor is also quite tasteful. However, it just doesn't quite add up to the size of our bill.
I rate this restaurant highly. Went there a couple of months ago on a Sunday afternoon after a hectic week and weekend and had the most chilled out, blissful time.
First off, the decor is great - modern but warm at the same time. There are great big lamps hanging from the ceiling giving off just the right amount of ambient light. The place isn't dark in any way, but it is what i call cwtchie!
There is a well balanced mix of large tables and small, allowing the place to cater effortlessly for couples or large parties. In fact, i have been there with my boyfriend and on a works night out when there was 11 of us and the service was of the same high standard both times.
On the subject of the staff, they are warm, smiley, funny, polite and know their stuff. They can advise on food and drink and on what compliments what without making you feel like a dumbo!
When i went with my boyfriend on that Sunday afternoon, the place was only half full and everyone seemed to be kicking back and chilling out over a glass of wine. being mainly a beer drinker, i decided to avoid my usual tipple and go for a red wine. After a quick chat with the waiter i chose a bottle of Italian red that was deep and fruity and a bit spicy and alltogether gorgeous (and i can't remember the name of it! Yikes - i'll have to come back later and update my review). My boyfriend never drinks wine, ever, but he polished off half of the bottle and would have ordered another one if i hadn't remembered it was a Sunday and we had work the next day!
On the subject of the food, i can clearly remember what i had. Carbonara. Boring you may say, but not for me, because i never order it. I usually go for the seafood option.
The carbonara was beautiful. Not too creamy, on a bed of rocket with fat shavings of parmesan and real parma ham draped over the top. It was really very very good.
As was my boyfriend's bolognese, i'm told.
Anyhoo, if you're in the bay and you fancy an Italian, give this place a go. I'd be very surprised if you regretted it.
The staff really let this place down. It's a shame because the bread was quite nice.
A dire expereience
1. Slow service
2. Given the wrong starter
3. Ordered a pizza without onions but it arrived with onions and their only explaination was we tried to take the onions out of the mix, we think we got most of them !
4. Waiter dropped left overs over my jacket and instead of apologising and cleaning it up said do you want me to bring you some cleaning fluid so you can clean it off !
5. Food wasn't even as nice as I'd been lead to believe
6. After all that they had the cheek to bring over a bill that included a 10% tip
Not going to Strada again anytime soon.
Good food and good service, though we had to wait over 20 minutes to pay as it seemed only the supervisor was allowed to open the till (and she was busy elsewhere). We also had to sit outside as the only tables for two were outside, not allowing us to take a bigger table indoors in case a bigger party came in later on in the night (understandable but a bit rude in my opinion).
Taken there by someone else, so I didn't pay but I was still even less impressed than on previous visits. I thought a dish of olives was a safe starter but they were lurid green and had all the consistency and flavour of cotton wool. No oil or marinade either. They were so bad I gave them back and was offered instead 'breaded olives' which were minced meat stuffed in an olive case and formula crumb coating. Just about edible, but dry maybe a garlic mayonnaise would have helped. Another member of our large party left his dish of olives as well. I had a steak, a rare (in both senses) treat, as I try not to eat too much red meat for personal health reasons. Just about OK but a bit tough and little, if any, flavour, and OK fries. The rocket leaves were nice! The chocolate mousse dessert was even stranger than the other courses, having no real mousse at all, but some chocolate paste at the bottom of a thin chocolate open box. The menu mentioned 'strawberries', which turned out to be 4 very thin slices which wouldn't add up to a single berry. £5-50 for this sweet. House wines were not unpleasant, but very ordinary. On the plus side, I should say some of my colleagues enjoyed their food, amd our waitress was very professional throughout. Footnote: my local co-op today was selling a substantial and thick rump steak with today's sell by date for £2. Brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper, simply grilled while I micro-combied a baked potato and served with fresh peas. Delicious, cheap meal ready in 15 minutes. Why do we put up with such poor standards in Cardiff restaurants?
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