86-90 Lamb’s Conduit St
Bloomsbury, WC1N 3LZ
0207 242 4119
This is a little gem of a restaurant tucked away near Russell Square tube station. It’s always crowded it seems, and for really good reason – the food is rather good, portions are quite generous, and there is a good vibe in the dining area. Service is quite typically Italian, loud, warm, friendly and very macho.
We’ve been here a few times already, and we simply love the Spaghetti al Cartoccio, which is a tomato based seafood pasta cooked in a greaseproof bag, presented to you at the table while still in the bag and unwrapped before your eyes. The amount of pasta and seafood in that one serving is quite impressive, and it delivers on taste big time. The pasta is always perfectly cooked, which requires impeccable timing in the oven, and the sauce is full of rich seafood flavor.
We’ve tried other dishes at Ciao Bella, like the Gnocchi al Ragu, which is good but slightly too chewy perhaps, and the Carbonara, which is served in what is probably too large a portion for a dish that is so rich, but is nevertheless yummy and worth a try. Appetizers at Ciao Bella are quite small in comparison to their mains, but then again, they’re not expensive (most of the starters are under £6) and are generally very yummy. We like the bruschetta and smoked salmon.
Overall this is a really good place for solid Italian cooking. Prices are very reasonable and portions are large, so it does attract a large crowd so reservations are highly recommended.