We don't like to be proved wrong here at Giz UK, but sometimes it happens – and when it does, we'll gladly hold our hands up. And such is the case with Bella Italia's Christmas menu: when it was announced last month, we used choice words such as "awful" and "horrendous" to describe it.
In our defence, you can't blame us: the Lasagne Festiva, which replaces the usual lasagne filling of minced beef and tomato with "pulled turkey confit, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and red onion", sounds a bit too weird to be nice. Same goes for the Pizza Festiva, which has the same ingredients, but on a Bella Italia pizza base instead of being folded between layers of pasta.
If they do sound good to you off the bat, then great: no need to keep reading, off you toddle to your nearest Bella Italia and give one of them a try. But if you are a bit hesitant, you're not alone. We were too: but Bella Italia were keen to make us eat our words, almost literally, and invited us down to try the menu for ourselves.
The Christmas menu itself is pretty extensive, so if you don't like the sound of turkey and cranberry on a pizza or in a lasagne, there are more normal-sounding options to try, like the Tacchino Paupiette (which I'm assuming is Italian for "full turkey dinner"), a prawn spaghetti Marinara, good old-fashioned spag bol, or a sirloin steak amongst other things. But since it was the Pizza and Lasagne Festiva that we'd taken offence to, we figured those better be the ones we tried.
The Lasagne Festiva (and the Pizza Festiva up top)
You know what? They were both bloody lovely.
Turkey and pigs in blankets work very well on a pizza. The cranberry gives it a bit of sweetness - I suppose just the same way pineapple does on a Hawaiian. If you're firmly in the anti-Hawaiian pizza camp then perhaps you'll feel the same way about cranberries on there too, but it works.
The Lasagne Festiva was a slightly more acquired taste. We had no idea what to expect; it didn't taste much like a lasagne, but it certainly didn't taste bad. It was pretty creamy thanks to the sage bechamel sauce, so if you're not a fan of creamy foods this one might get a little sickly. But if bechamel is your bag, then it's delicious. The pasta layers are so slight that the taste of Christmas dinner completely overrides the fact that you're eating a lasagne. Oh, and the portion size is massive, so you'll be stuffed.
Empty plates all round!
The starters and desserts selection on the Christmas Party menu are excellent too. We tried the Pumpkin and Pancetta Arancini and the Roast Parsnip and Chestnut Soup. The Arancini – risotto rice balls – were absolutely delicious (there were about five balls served, I could've eaten about 20), and the red pepper dip they were served with was great, too. The soup was less exciting, but it was good soup. How exciting do you want soup to be, really?
For dessert, we opted for a Chocolate Brownie (served warm with gelato) and Morello Cherry Cheesecake. Both delicious. Though my brownie was probably the least favourite part of my meal – and considering I'm a massive chocolate fiend, I think that speaks volumes about the rest of it.
The starters - we forgot to photograph our desserts because we were too busy gobbling them down.
So yes, there you have it: Bella Italia, we're sorry we called your Lasagne Festiva and Pizza Festiva "horrendous". We take back our words. They're actually delicious. 10/10 would eat again.
The Christmas menu is available at Bella Italia until 30th December, excluding Christmas Day. Two courses cost £17.99, and three courses costs £19.99. View the full menu here.