Bellissimo restaurant has built a great reputation for the past 14 years, and is located in the suburbs of Waterford City close to the hospital. Tony McMahon and the team moved into new premises – just across the road - almost a year ago and parking in the Lidl car park is available. The restaurant is easily visible on the first floor behind large picture windows surrounding the building.
As you enter the restaurant there is a great sense of space, with seats to enjoy a pre-dinner drink. The décor is warehouse with large metal ducting over head, dark wooden floors and steel shelving displaying a great selection of wines. Seating is a selection of tables and chairs around the room, banquette seating in the centre and two booths to the rear. There is also a large outdoor balcony, almost as large as the restaurant with seating which is very popular during the summer months
As we took our seats we were offered a choice of menus; an early bird which runs from 5-6.30pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 1-6pm on a Sunday offering 3 courses for €26 or 2 courses for €22. There was a choice of 5 starters including spicy meatballs, crab cakes or caramelised goats cheese; 6 mains where you can choose the fish of the day, Celebrazione which is their new signature pizza, char grilled chicken breast or a 9oz sirloin with a €5 supplement. The desserts are warm chocolate brownies, classic tiramisu or lemon cheesecake.
The a la carte - which we ate from - offers a selection of 8 starters ranging in price from €6.45 for the spicy Irish meatballs to €9.95 for antipasta. There’s also a selection of tasty seafood morsels or a crostini platter. Main courses ranged from €14.95 for Mediterranean peach & almond couscous or the Quattro Station pizza up to €24.95 for a 10oz sirloin. You can also opt for slow braised lamb shank, or a duo of pork fillet and slow roasted pork belly.
While browsing the menu we had a bottle of still water and a selection of warm homemade breads in different flavours; tomato & fennel or walnut & raisin, which kept us going nicely. The wine list is extensive with something for every palate and given the choice you can tell that wines are a real passion for Tony. There is a choice of 15 reds, starting at €22 and going up to €45 for the French Chateau Frank Phelan. There is a further 13 whites, again spread between €22 for the South African False Bay Chenin Blanc up to €33 for the Domaine Chateau Chablis, which is good value for a decent Chablis. There is a selection available by the glass for €5.50, or for that special occasion you may prefer a sparkling wine at €27 or €67 for their Champagne De Castellano. We kept it simple with the Chilean Los Tilos Sauvignon Blanc, well priced at €22, and one I particularly favour.
To start I had the zesty coriander crab cakes which came with a prawn bisque and confit tomato. They were absolutely delicious and were all crab with the tiniest amount of potato, just enough to bind them together while the other starters were the spicy meat balls and sizzling prawns which were served in a terracotta dish with garlic butter and topped with a langoustine. Had the fish cakes not been unusually good, they would have been the star dish.
To follow I had baked fillets of seabass; three in total served on top of roast peppers and herb mash, they were perfectly cooked and the mash was sinfully creamy. Fred ordered the Arribiatta con Pollo; a large portion of fettuccine with a spicy tomato sauce and chicken breast. He fancied the spicy hit, and said it did indeed pack a punch. Aine went with the steak which came with sautéed onions, mushrooms and herb mash plus pepper sauce on the side. The presentation of all dishes served was so impressive, it seemed almost a shame to disturb them, but then the taste lured you in.
When it came to dessert we were certain we weren't indulging, until our waitress completely tempted us. Fred had chocolate indulgence, a selection of everything chocolaty with a rich chocolate cup, white chocolate and pistachio ganache with a mini meringue, raspberry jelly and orange puree with ice cream – total indulgence. I had the vanilla crème brulee as she said it was her favourite dessert on the menu and coincidentally it’s mine as well. It was really good, and I was glad to have taken the advice. We finished with coffees and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Bellissimo is a bit of a find, good food and service coupled with friendly service is a winner, and they have it down to a tee. Check it out.