I recently blogged about a new Italian restaurant that has opened on St Michaels Hill, on the site of a former curry house. We finally had the chance to pay them a visit for a pre-pub meal, with mixed thoughts on the food…
Owned by the people with the restaurant with the same name in Kingswood, La Passione offers a variety of pastas, pizzas and meat and fish dishes at fairly standard prices. It’s a tardis of a place, with a narrow exterior opening up to a small waiting area and a spacious dining room inside.
Despite the smartly laid tables and luxuriously comfortable chairs, the bare walls and the silence of the place (there was one other table dining on the night that we chose to visit) gave the restaurant a slightly strange feel, punctuated only by the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra crooning through the speakers.
Prices here are fairly standard for Italian restaurants – most pizzas and pasta dishes are under £10, with meat and fish dishes hovering between £10 and £15. They also offer a lunchtime deal of any pasta or pizza for £5.95.
Expect to see a lot of standard Italian fare on the menu – lasagne, carbonara, cannelloni – but also a range of dishes that are a little different, including my choice of main course. The menu features some of the same dishes as the Kingswood restaurant (you can see the Kingswood menu here), but it’s refreshing to see that it’s not completely the same.
All three of us went for starters – a Prosciutto Con Bufalo Mozzarella (£4.95) which was quickly demolished, and a Polpette Della Casa (£5.50)…two large meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. Very impressive portion sizes for the price!
I decided on the Bruschetta Napoli (£3.95), simply topped with tomato, onion, basil and olive oil, and served with a large side salad.
The bread itself was delicious, saturated but not overly so by the olive oil, with the crust still nice and crisp and the centre soft and full of flavour. Fresh basil and tomato are always a winning combination, and again, the size of the portion was certainly generous. I’m not sure the side salad was needed, though – I ended up with a massive plate of food that looked rather sloppy as a result.
Onto the mains, and a Spaghetti Al Pesto (£8.95) for one of our table. A bit of a deceptive title, as the sauce included tiny shell-off prawns as well as a huge amount of pesto – tasty enough, but there was a little disappointment about the fact that such small prawns had been used and didn’t have a great deal of flavour. Our table also ordered the Penne Con Pollo (£9.95) which was deemed a hit, the combination of chicken, cream, garlic, mushrooms and chilli working well together.
I normally go for a pizza or pasta dish when at Italian restaurants…but this time I branched out and chose from the ‘Poultry’ section of the menu. The Pollo Caserola (£12.50) intrigued me, having not seen it on the menu anywhere else before. Chicken on the bone, stuffed with cheese and ham before being breadcrumbed and cooked in a Marsala and cream sauce…maybe not the healthiest option, but it sounded great!
The chicken itself was beautifully cooked, still tender and moist, and the amount of cheese and ham was perfect. Sadly, the sauce let the meal down, though, being overly sweet and sickly, and destroying a lot of the flavours. Without the sauce, it would have been great.
The chicken was served with ‘a selection of vegetables of the day’. The potatoes were fantastic, but the carrot, cauliflower and broccoli added a bit of a ‘school dinner’ feel to the dish. A shame, as with a few tweaks I’d have really enjoyed my meal…
It would have been rude not to look at the dessert menu when it was offered…but here we faced a further disappointment when presented with a card with photographs that suggested that the tiramisu, banoffee pie, cheesecake and other desserts (most of which were not Italian) were bought in.
We passed on dessert, but were offered a complimentary shot of sambuca each by our waiter (no idea why, but the other table were also given a free drink), paid our bill, and left.
A bit of a mixed experience overall, with both hits and misses. As I say, it’s not an overly expensive place, and the lunch deal sounds like great value. It’s good to see that their Kingswood restaurant is thriving enough for them to open a second restaurant, and I wish them every success.
Address: 146 St Michaels Hill, Bristol, BS2 8DA
Telephone: 0117 934 9096
Website: Not available at the time of writing.