You hear mixed things about Bella Napoli. Some people swear by it as their go-to Italian spot, the place you can go to on a weeknight and get reliable staples on the reg. Others seem to think it’s bland, a rip-off, or both.
After a recent visit, I’m pretty much right in the middle. The food itself is OK, some of it pretty good even. The rucola and prosciutto pizza, in particular, was a real winner – great crust, quality toppings. Our salad, with similar ingredients, was just fine, as was an under-seasoned sausage risotto. Fine, but not much better. Hard to be mad at, hard to get excited about.
You can get better Italian than this, without going far – La Vite, which I’ve reviewed before, is a few blocks away, and offers more authentic-feeling and comforting food. You get the feeling they could do better if they wanted, but don't really need to anymore.
Where it gets extra points is the location, which is honestly great and a clue as to how the place still commands a lot of affection despite being one of the oldest Italians in town. Tucked away down an unassuming alley off Changle Lu that gives it just enough of a hidden vibe, it’s hard not to be won over the first time you hang right and wander into an open courtyard and restaurant that looks just like your favorite Italian spot back home. On a Thursday night at 8:30pm it was still busy with tables having a laidback meal and a bottle or two, the contented murmur of a lot of people having a low-stakes good time.
It’s this space, not the food, that makes it worth stopping by. But that still means it’s worth a visit.
Price: RMB 100 – RMB 200 per person
Summary: Italian stalwart that matches a cozy location with decent if uninspiring food. Not the place to be blown away by great cooking, but maybe the place to impress a date that hasn’t been before, or just get a couple pizzas and bottles in with friends when you’re in the neighborhood.
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