Food evaluation: Bella Napoli, Shrewsbury

There turned into as a good deal hazard of taking walks into an open eating place and bagging a desk as there was of Market Drayton Town beating Manchester City within the FA Cup. The usual haunts have been closed, the streets have been empty and a TV dinner from Tesco appeared the most in all likelihood option.

Bella Napoli, but, is a restaurant that goes in opposition to the grain. In one small corner of Shrewsbury, it was supplying its own version of La Dolce Vita.

Bella Napoli describes itself as a traditional neighborhood Italian in Shrewsbury, serving up a flavor of wooden-fired pizzas, pasta, and risotto. It’s open all hours, with mid-morning espresso and self-made cake in advance inside the day. Theirs is a menu for success and couples were settling in for something tasty at what-seemed-just like the most effective open eating place on the town.

An Italian meal is a dream. Spend time in Italy and you may wander the streets of nowheresville towns and villages, or iconic cities, to eat like a king.

Pasta could be spent time to dry, shellfish can be wrigglingly alive, fruit can be bursting with ripeness and wine may be flowing at the side of ribald testimonies.

La Bella Napoli captures something of that vibe. The head waiter becomes busily idiosyncratic as we made his manner across the room. I requested for massive water, he introduced me a small. And then when that ran out, he added some other small one. And he brought both with such grace and panache that I realized he turned into right and I turned into incorrect and what I’d desired was two small bottles of water in spite of everything.

He was the acme of attraction, albeit in the most scatterbrained manner.

The eating room changed into a classic trattoria. Light, vivid and ethereal, without useless adornment or ornamentation, it changed into an area that welcomed hustle and bustle.

Bella Napoli’s website talks of it’s head chef’s love of Italy’s best recipes and its proprietors’ ardor for Italian delicacies. It declares an affinity for the usage of most effective the best ‘mare e monte’ of land and sea ingredients. And it speaks of one dish imparticular: Rissoti Pollo e Spinach – a hearty, creamy risotto, full of hen, spinach, garlic, and tangy parmesan. It sounded excellent. I ordered it.

But no longer earlier than beginning with an easy plate of calamari. Squid is one in all nature’s disregarded components. It’s to be had clean from fishmongers in town were cooked correctly, it’s almost as delicate and smooth as prawns. But overcooked, or cooked from frozen, and it’s a unique proposition.

And the version on provide at La Bella Napoli didn’t excite. A little overcooked and ever-so-slightly hard, it turned into cooked in a pleasant batter; that being the highlight of the dish.

Beside changed into a scattering of limp salad leaves that had commenced to wilt and lose something life they may once have had. It became perfunctory food, a dish without passion or endeavor.

The essential became higher. Rissoti Pollo e Spinach becomes as creamy and enjoyable because the website had advised. Small portions of chicken were beautifully caramelized and had been nevertheless soft. The rice becomes al dente, with the slightest bite and a chalky white indoors. The texture becomes rich and starchy and the dish had been seasoned properly.

The tangy parmesan that had been marketed at the internet site changed into awful. Sprinkled at the pinnacle, it had the flavor and texture of sawdust and became appallingly dry. Ready Steady Cook once informed off visitors for using dried herbs in preference to clean and for the use of pre-grated parmesan in place of shaving it right off the block.

And even as I’ve no concept whether La Bella Napoli uses 30-month DOP Parmigiano Reggiani or something from the cash and convey, all that I ought to consider as I ate it turned into the powdery stuff they used to bang on about on Ready Steady Cook. I made positive now not to feature any extra to my dish.

I’d requested the waiter to pare again the element size, which he did, and however, for the dreadful cheese, it turned into a reasonably pleasing course.

I skipped dessert. The diners around me had puddings that seemed first-class but unremarkable and having fed on extra than my honest proportion of protein and starch and been entertained with the aid of a marvelously idiosyncratic restaurant manager, it turned into time to pay the bill. The BBC and now-Scala DJ Simon Mayo has some of the signature topics. Among the most famous is a three-word overview. And had been we to apply the equal three-word precept to La Bella Napoli, ‘great but unremarkable’ could be a decent shout.

Everything’s kinda very well, there’s nothing that’s in particular underwhelming or disappointing – apart from the limp salad leaves.

But even as it’s interestingly exciting and even as lashings of bonhomie are served without charge, it’s nearly no longer an area for gastronomic thrills.

If you’re seeking out a without a doubt genuine flavor of Italy, you’re not always going to locate it here. There aren’t racks of drying pasta, superb clean tomatoes or any of the pleasures associated with dining in that lovely, lovely u. S . A.

Excellence is, of the path, tough to find and as Shropshire hurtles toward the 2020s it’s no longer synonymous with that.

There are masses of affordable restaurants and quite a few decent independents – that’s extra than most counties have. It’s no longer disingenuous, unfair or harsh to explain La Bella Napoli in that manner.

The Castle Street eating place gives first-rate, fairly priced food, a heat welcome, a buzzy ecosystem and a crew devoted to providing the great hospitality that they’re capable of.