Make A Meal Of It

The Tab starts its quest to find you Cambridge’s best deals for dining out without breaking the budget. This week: Bella Italia.

Bella Italia Budget Cambridge Leisure Park Cindies Drinking food Grafton Centre Newnham Phoebe Luckhurst Pizza Express Wine

The Establishment? Bella Italia @ The Watermill, Newnham Road, Newnham, Cambridge, CB3 9EY. Just a hop, skip and a, “Ciao Bella!” from the centre of town. Bella Italia also has branches at the Grafton Centre and Cambridge Leisure Park (alright, it’s a chain, shoot me).

What’s on the menu? Italian fare. But, hey, this is bella Italian fare, not just dough balls to start, a stuffed crust pepperoni you can't stomach and a stingy slab of melted Vienetta to finish. I was impressed with the Bella Italia website which provides you with the downloadable menus of each of the individual branches, including prices of the meals. Just stick your postcode in and you’re laughing.

Book me in? 01223 367 507 (Grafton Centre: 01223 462 464; Leisure Park: 01223 247 099).

The deal? 2-for-1 on main courses from Sunday to Thursday (the cheaper one being the free one, of course, they are running a business here) until the 11th February. Click here to get your free voucher, fill it out and print it off and you’re sorted.



It is a truth universally acknowledged that a student in search of a meal out, must be in want of a voucher. (Yes, Jane Austen would be spinning in her grave, but she’s long gone and there’s nothing she can do about it.)

It’s a familiar scene. The waiting staff’s features rearrange themselves with quite astounding alacrity – from welcoming and eager to that of the very saddest of sad clowns – as they realise the booking they took for ten people will yield only the payment of five meals as you traipse in, decked out in stash, brandishing your printed 2-for-1 voucher – not even a colour print-out at that –  and each emitting the unique (but pungent) aroma of cheapskatedness and an unsophisticated palate.

Bella Italia is just far enough out of town that after a couple of glasses of (house) white you won’t be tempted to lumber, stuffed full of complex carbohydrates, to Cindies and try and dance away the calories. One estimate I found proposed that an average woman will burn 265 calories per hour of dancing; there are roughly 1000 calories in a Spaghetti Carbonara (you do the maths – largely because I can’t) so it would have to be one mammoth Cindies effort, and frankly, my reluctance to move my limbs rises exponentially to every gram of carbohydrate consumed.

My friend and I dined here a few weeks ago and I can certainly vouch for the Salmone Al Pomodoro (£10.95), which is a delicious alternative to the carbohydrate-laden pizzas and pasta dishes if, like me, you have too-many-carbohydrates-induced narcolepsy. It was a pretty sizeable piece of fish (no innuendo intended, or probably facilitated by that comment, but I thought I’d point that out nonetheless) and the scattering of new potatoes and vegetables were a lovely complement; my friend opted for the Pesto Rosso e Legumi Pizza (£8.50 – roast chicken and vegetables, I think, if my 'Italian-for-people-without-a-flair-for-Italian' class taught me anything, and it's a quid for an extra topping) which was, by all accounts, even better than the Pizza Express equivalent – which always serves as the benchmark against which I measure any pizza experience. The house wine (£13.50) was eminently drinkable, which is intended to be a compliment. Desserts weren't included in the deal so we didn't sample those (I'm Scottish, I am that cheap, I'm Scottish so I do prioritise alcohol over dessert).

Without our dog-eared voucher, our meal would have come to £32.95, but subtract the cost of the cheaper main course and the bill was £24.45 (before service, if you so choose to add a little extra. I'm Scottish so obviously I didn't. No, that's a lie, I tipped the waiter. He was quite fit.), and between the two of us, that came to just over £12 each. Not too shabby.

All prices are applicable to the Newnham Road branch of Bella Italia, and were correct at the time of going to press.