Saturday 14 March 2009

Ciao Bella, Lamb's Conduit Street, central London

A throwback to another era, Ciao Bella is a good value, but rather tired, Italian restaurant in a quirky Bloomsbury enclave. Musical instruments and prints of movie stars hang from the white walls, overlooking rows of small tables with white tablecloths and white wooden chairs. The pavement tables, which are warmed by patio heaters, offer a better ambiance. The menu has a long list of pizzas, pasta dishes and salads, priced around the seven pound mark, plus some more expensive Italian meat and fish dishes. The dough on the calzone is a bit tough, but the mozzarella and ham filling is nice enough. It is topped with a tomato sauce and a healthy pile of rocket. For some stronger flavours, try the spaghetti ally puttanesca, which comes with a generous serving of anchovies, olives and capers. Tipping is optional, which is in line with the sometimes erratic service. 6/10