This week, we moved house. No longer in the city centre, we’ve got a lovely flat overlooking the river, which sits conveniently between the north and the south of the river…meaning that we’ve got no excuse not to explore Bedminster, Southville and Totterdown with more regularity!
After a long day of shifting our belongings to the new flat, we were – understandably – starving, and set out to find somewhere close to grab a bite to eat.
I’d never actually been to any branch of Bottelino’s before – a small chain of restaurants founded by Giuseppe Botta over 40 years ago and now covering Bristol, Swindon, Portishead, Cheltenham, Bath and Weston-super-Mare. Trading 7 days a week, the Bedminster branch was opened in 2006 in the old police station, a beautiful, listed building that provides a huge amount of dining space, including areas that can be booked out separately for larger parties.
The restaurant itself is decorated in a comfortable, contemporary style: metal tables and chairs, a huge tv on one wall that had images of a flickering fire burning when we visited on a cold December lunch time, Italian music piped over the tannoy system and a large party adding a lively buzz to the venue. We were shown to a table at the very back of the restaurant and were hidden around a corner (but service was still great, we’re pleased to say) and directly underneath a speaker, which made conversation a little difficult at times.
The menu is – as in many Italian restaurants – large and varied. Diners can take their pick from pizzas, pastas, meat, fish, risottos, salads and more, with a selection of starters (some a little odd – egg mayonnaise?) and desserts for those with more of an appetite than we had. Some dishes don’t appear to be particularly “traditional”, but there’s a huge selection of dishes – including vegetarian, plus the option of gluten free meals – to suit all palates. Prices are very reasonable, ranging from about £10-£15 for most mains, and there are some great special offers, which currently include a set menu offering two courses for under £10.
We visited just in time to take advantage of the lunch/early bird deal of any pizza or pasta for £5.95 (you can also add a selected starter or dessert for an additional £2.95) – a bit of a bargain. Eschewing the additional courses, we went straight for the pizza, with the better half ordering the Laviano (chicken, red onion, garlic and mozzarella – normally £10.50) and me deciding to go for the Bottelino’s (onions, sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms, black olives, anchovies and ham – normally £11.95).
Our verdict? The £5.95 early bird deal is amazing value. The pizzas are handmade and the dough is wonderfully light and fluffy, and the toppings were generous (although if I’m being really pedantic, mine could have done with a bit more cheese close to the crust). The tomato and herb sauce covering the base was a nice change to the standard plain tomato, and the fact that we paid about £18 for two pizzas, a beer and a lemonade is not to be sniffed at!
Service was courteous and friendly throughout, our order taken by a young Bristolian waiter, our food served by an older Italian who appeared more content to converse in his own language than in English, which added to the charm.
Bottelino’s also offer pizza to take away, and will soon be launching their Si Chef range – home delivery of the ingredients and the recipes that you need to make your own Bottelino’s pasta or pizza at home, a great idea! I think we may become fairly regular customers…
Find Bottelino’s – Bedminster Parade on the Bristol Bites Directory…