Perfect simplicity!

Posted on May 26th, 2018 by Robin Goldsmith in Artisan, Bardolino, Barolo, breakfast, dinner, Drink, Food, Food & drink matching, Italian Food, Italian wine, Italy, lunch, Pinot Grigio, Restaurant, Wine

All photos by Robin Goldsmith.


A selection of artisan cheeses & cold meats

Receiving an invitation to dinner at an Italian restaurant is always welcome and difficult to say ‘no’ to, but this was an invite with a difference!

Food Club is a project organised by Confcooperative and Confartigianato Emilia-Romagna and sponsored by the Emilia-Romagna municipal government to promote Italian artisanal food products to other countries, the UK being a prime target. Following a day in which Devodier Prosciutti, La Rocca Salame, Attinà preserved vegetables, 4 Madonne Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Cooperative Agricoltura Progresso extra virgin olive oils, preserves and condiments were showcased to buyers and importers of Italian food, a dinner was held at the delightful Bellaria restaurant in central London.


Bellaria Restaurant

From outside, the restaurant looks unassuming with no clues as to what lies inside. The street-level interior is simply decorated with open shelving displaying a range of impressive wines, including Marchesi Antinori Tignanello, Masi Bardolino Classico and Vite Colte Barolo Paesi Tuoi.


Wine bottles at Bellaria

Manager Andrea explains that the restaurant is named after the original chef’s home town in Emilia-Romagna, so a fitting place for Food Club to meet. The current chef is from Puglia, the opposite end of Italy and the menu has influences from around the country. A relaxed atmosphere and authentic food made with good ingredients are core principles and they take pride in “working with farmers and boutique suppliers that provide fresh, organic and sustainably sourced produce”. Both Andrea and Davide Pieri, one of the event organisers and cooperative society representatives, stress the need to increase awareness and understanding of such authentic, high quality Italian food products, especially with so many cheap imitations currently being sold across the world.


Lunch Menu at Bellaria

There are à la carte and set menus for dinner, a one or two-course set lunch and now a new morning initiative, pitting an English breakfast against an Italian equivalent with fry-ups, panini, omelettes and other options.


The downstairs dining room at Bellaria

Head downstairs and you’re in another world. With music playing in the background, charm and elegance ooze seamlessly out of the tastefully decorated brickwork enclosing this more intimate, magical grotto-like dining space, fuelling the congenial atmosphere with both vitality and a homely bonhomie.


Classic parmigiana with tomato, aubergine & mozzarella

The food is delicious and authentic with no pretensions, representative of the Food Club’s objectives. Classic parmigiana with tomato, aubergine and mozzarella is followed by grilled asparagus with poached egg and parmesan fondue.


Grilled asparagus with poached egg & parmesan fondue

Fresh orecchiette with sautéed broccoli and chilli lead to a choice of sea bream fillet or grilled sirloin steak, before a sharing platter of Italian desserts.


Fresh, homemade orecchiette, served with sautéed broccoli and chili

Great food does not have to be complicated – it can be simple in concept, but prepared perfectly. Ultimately of course, it all starts with the raw materials, so it’s good to hear about initiatives that promote the importance of high quality, authentic, ethically sourced ingredients for both retail and restaurant environments.

Now who’s going to win the battle of the breakfasts – England or Italy?

Confcooperative is the main association that represents, assists and defends Italian cooperatives and social enterprises. It has over 3.3 million members, encompassing 19,000 companies with 528,000 employees and a turnover of €66,000.

Confartigianato Emilia-Romagna is one of the 20 regional federations that represent the interests of 1.5 million artisan enterprises and small businesses in Italy. The national organisation covers 46 trade associations, 12 category federations and 118 local associations.

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