We try the Bristol restaurant with one of the best views anywhere in the city

-Credit: (Image: BristolLive)
-Credit: (Image: BristolLive)

OK, it’s not quite the same as eating next to the Rialto Bridge in Venice, but when it comes to lunch or dinner with a stunning river view, a meal at Bella Vista is one of the best in Bristol. Next to Bristol Bridge, overlooking Castle Park and St Nicholas Church, it’s certainly up there with a pint in the sun at the White Lion terrace overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

And it’s popular, too. Since surviving the pandemic, Bella Vista seems to be busier than ever and on the evening we visited, it was pretty much full, both inside the large, airy dining room and on the sunny terrace next to the water.

There was a small hen party in full swing, birthday celebration couples and solo diners - mostly men in suits grabbing a post-work bite to eat before the sweaty commute home - and, just as we were leaving, a group of 20 retired German tourists turned up for dinner.

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On a balmy June evening, many diners were enjoying goldfish bowl-sized glasses of Aperol spritz cocktails or cold pints of Angelo Poretti lager. In the background, The Girl from Ipanema was on a loop with a 1970s elevator muzak version of Killing Me Softly With His Song, although the rising chatter of diners was already starting to drown out the music.

Sea bass with capers, brown butter and lemon with a warm new potato and green bean salad -Credit:BristolLive
Sea bass with capers, brown butter and lemon with a warm new potato and green bean salad -Credit:BristolLive

The menu here is extensive and covers the usual Italian trattoria bases of pizzas (served in 12-inch or 14-inch sizes), pasta dishes and risottos, but there are also steaks, fish dishes and vegetarian options. And there are bargains to be had, with pizzas starting at £10 and the cheapest pasta dish £13.

We broke with convention by sharing a pizza as a starter. Well, it wasn’t on the pizza menu and found under the ‘snacks’ section of breads, but the pizza all’aglio e formaggi (£8) was a thin and crisp 12-inch stone-baked pizza base topped with a carpet of molten mozzarella and garlic.

Bella Vista has one of the best views in the city
Bella Vista has one of the best views in the city -Credit:BristolLive

To follow, from the specials board, I had the gnocchi with prawns, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, basil and chilli (£19). The soft gobstopper-size potato balls of gnocchi and strips of sautéed courgette were almost outnumbered by the generous number of prawns, with the squishy cherry tomatoes adding sweetness and a tingle of heat from the chilli. It was a well balanced and highly enjoyable dish.

Sticking with the fish and seafood theme in keeping with a shimmering river view, perfectly cooked fillets of sea bass (£21) with capers, brown butter and lemon were teamed with a warm new potato and green bean salad. It was a light and fragrant dish perfect for a warm summer evening.

The ‘homemade’ tiramisu -Credit:BristolLive
The ‘homemade’ tiramisu -Credit:BristolLive

We finished by sharing what was described as ‘homemade’ tiramisu (£7.95) although it was a little dry and overly sweet. It certainly wasn’t a patch on the tiramisu at Sonny Stores in Southville - still the best version in Bristol bar none.

It was good to be back at Bella Vista, a restaurant serving solid Italian cooking at a fair price in a cracking location. What more do you need?

Bella Vista, 2b Victoria Street, Redcliffe, Bristol, BS1 6DT. Tel: 0117 9250929.