Bella Cosa (Italian) – Canary Wharf, LondonHALAL STATUS Mainly Halal (some dishes contain alcohol) • Alcohol served
Bella Cosa offers you a journey through Italian cuisine in the heart of the City.
As rare as they might be, here’s another Halal-friendly Italian restaurant review within the span of a single month.
Following our experience at Muslim-owned Chianti in Ealing, west London, we headed over to the east side and the Isle of Dogs in Canary Wharf.
There, we made our way to Bella Cosa on Marsh Wall, which specialises in regional Italian dishes, as well as a range of pizzas, all “using quality Italian ingredients”.
The 48-cover restaurant takes full advantage of the South Dock, with great views of the river helping to enhance, particularly when night falls, an intimate atmosphere created by the use of warm lighting therein.
While Bella Cosa has also taken advantage of the sizeable demographic of Muslims residing in the area by providing a fully Halal meat menu, being an “authentic Italian” establishment means that alcohol is utilised as an ingredient in some dishes; so be sure to let them know of your Halal diet before ordering.
Currently, Daniele Profilio – an Italian Chef who’s headed kitchens as prestigious as Novikov-Mayfair, Cacciaris’s, and In the City Salotto 31 – has been the restaurant’s head chef since August of this year. They also have a Muslim Sous Chef in Ahmed Whaba assisting Daniele.
Despite having once occupied both floors of Drewry House, Bella Cosa is now restricted to the ground floor, with the top one being taken over by an Indian sister-restaurant.
And though there is parking near by, the restaurant does, in its bid to attract potential customers, offer a rather novel service in the form of a complimentary taxi ride for anyone located within a 1.5 mile radius.
Although there’s only three mocktails to choose from, and while we thoroughly enjoyed the deep, citrusy flavours of this Temporale, which was driven by the tart aftertaste of the grenadine, the bar is flexible enough to cater to your needs.
Given how good this one drink was, and considering that most restaurants we’ve reviewed over the years tend to neglect the non-alcoholic side of their drinks menu, we regret not ordering the other two. Do let us know how they were in the comments below if you get to try them.
In this case, not only was the chef able to deliver on a good amount of heat, but also managed to infuse that rich, tomato and garlicy sauce with a taste of the sea.
Couple that with tender, deshelled prawns, as well as soft cherry tomatoes left to soak in all that herbaceous chilli sauce, and you’ll be contemplating a second plate towards the end when making use of the freshly-made buttered toast to mop things up.
A smartly presented Crab Salad whose beautifully seasoned mixture of creamy crab meat rested atop a bed of diced mango that turned out timid in taste.
And though there were droplets of berry gel nestled within a streak of subtle citrusy yellow sauce, what this required was the gentle tartness of a better quality mango to contrast against the natural sweetness of the crab.
There was no doubting how beautifully battered this Fried Squid was, with all that addicitive crispy-cum-crunchy texture enveloping segments of a cephalopod that still managed to retain some chewiness (it was almost there in terms of cooking).
As for the Aioli dip, then it was perfectly good. But, even with a generous squeeze (and we do mean generous) of the accompanying wedge of lemon, it still wasn’t enough to mask what was ostensibly a very lightly seasoned batter accompanied by a sauce that was barely garlicy. In all, a perfectly good dish!RECOMMENDED
In fact, this is a good time to mention that Bella Cosa insist on doing everything inhouse – from the pasta, courtesy of the kitchen’s pasta machine, to the selection of breads, which included a complimentary basket roll.
Before that, however, the garlic bread needs to be eulogised some. This boasted a beautifully risen and wonderfully flaky top – almost ciabatta-like in texture – followed by a buttery drizzle with the merest aromatic hint of garlic coming through.
As for the bread rolls, then these had a crusty exterior, with the dark one evidently made from cocoa.
PASTA & RISOTTO
The menu said nothing of green chillis! Consequently, we were presented with a dish so fiery that it almost overwhelmed everything in the vicinity, including the natural taste of the crab and prawn meat mixture.
Having said that though, if you can handle the heat, then you’ll enjoy their delicious homemade tagliatelle, glistening in all that olive oil and beautifully enveloped in that wet crustacean combo.RECOMMENDED
What an incredible pasta dish this was, with soft silky parcels of green tortelli, containing a creamy stuffing of lightly piquant ricotta cheese, and floating in a buttery sauce with a touch of sour to it.
Add to that the headiness of the truffles and the earthiness of the mushrooms, both helping to provide that earthy undertone, and we just couldn’t get enough of this umptious plate of umami goodness.
MEAT & FISH
In contrast to all the other dishes was this unpretentiously presented, no-nonsense Beef Fillet.
Covered in a little gravy and topped with shreds of crispy leek, this was served on top of large chunks of roasted potatoes, before being oddly paired with a large segment of grilled trumpet mushroom.
Despite its rustic nature, there was no denying how dreamily tender the fillet actually was, cooked bang on medium rare and oozing with umami juices.
But, what this sexy piece of beef was screaming out for, and which the gravy, as good as it was, failed to mask, was some extra seasoning.
To be sure, the ratio of starch to beef was also disproportionate. Add to that said large mushroom (not mentioned on the menu), and this dish left us scratching our collective foreheads.
What could be better than delicately pan-seared scallops personifying tenderness, swaddled in a mellow white cream that adds a touch of maltiness, and juxtaposed with diced “forest” mushrooms all soft and buttery?
The notes of light sweetness coming from the funky swirl and droplets, as well as the green salad, helped complete an accomplished plate of food.
Although Milanese dishes, we were told, are traditionally cooked using veal, Chef Daniel revealed to us that Halal will be sourced and introduced soon enough, which is very exciting.
Yet, given the poultry’s size, and despite a delightfully good crispy exterior, this did err on the dry side. As such, it desperately required some kind of sauce to keep things going, since the tomatoes and salad weren’t able to compensate for this shortcoming.
SPECIAL MENU SELECTIONS
At this point, Chef Daniel was evidently showing off his culinary repertoire with dishes we had the honour of trying from both Bella Cosa’s Xmas’ and New Year’s Menu, both available for £40 & £45, respectively.
This Foie Grass Pate was actually made from Halal duck liver pâtte, we were told, and carefully placed, with a dollop of smooth Porcini Cream, into a delicate, wafer-thin rice cracker.
As you can imagine, the entire dish was defined by the earthy flavour of the mushroom puree paired with the rich butteriness of the foie grass. A unique dish, a Halal version of which you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.
The crispy chicken skin was expertly judged and the flesh beneath moist and succulent as it should be.
Had with the potatoes and that satisfying dip, this was a pleasant and straightforward dish which succeeded in its simple flavours and perfect execution.
Cod Croquettes as fine as these were always going to be a winner with us, especially with the sticky spoonfuls of sweet-and-sour Pepper Chutney marmalade they rested on.
Located inside a delectably crispy exterior was the cod, whose unmistakable aroma came through nicely. We could have had a dozen of these golden balls of delight and still asked for more!
Outstanding Burrata this, which was presented with cherry tomatoes from a region of Italy known as Puglia; and all resting on an oily pesto sauce.
Burrata, if you don’t know, is basically a cheese made from mozzarella and cream, with the latter contained within a thin velvety outer film. A simple and fresh dish which we enjoyed.
A scrumptious, smooth and creamy vanilla cheesecake, topped with fresh berries and mint leaves, and a crumbly biscuity base. What more could you ask for? Superb!RECOMMENDED
Encased in a red coating of something which didn’t taste of very much was this milk chocolatey mousse, which had enough firmness to ensure prolonged pleasure.
If you’re a lover of quality chocolate, then this, with crushed nuts affixed to the base for textural contrast, is the one to get.
A yummy end to an intriguing evening of good quality Italian food.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- JUST EAT
Well, Bella Cosa has proven to be even better, with an accomplished Italian chef plying his trade and serving up a variety of smart and tasty plates of food. Granted Canary Wharf may not be the most accessible place in London; but, if you are looking for exceptional Halal Italian food, then who cares about travel and accessibility? Alternatively, if you're located within 1.5 miles of the venue, then be sure to take advantage of Bella Cosa's unique complimentary taxi service, which will come and collect you at your chosen time and transport you for lunch or dinner.
It ought to be borne in mind, however, that there are a number of dishes on the menu that do have alcohol in it. In this case, it is important to let your waiter know in advance of your dietery requirements so you can be properly looked after, since the menu does not indicate what these dishes are.
A little shout out also to Bella Cosa's exceptional Operations Manager, Sunil Balaji Vasudevan, who was on point in taking care of our Halal requirements with such endearing patience and understanding.
We can also reveal that Bella Cosa will actually be extending their EOTHO offer of 50% off (upto £10pp) not until the end of January, but February 2021 (Sunday to Friday). What's more, from 3-6.30pm, they have an Early Bird offer (prebooking required). Otherwise, there's 20% off all orders for takeaway and collection (visit their website for more details).
Please also note that Bella Cosa will add on a 12.5% discretionary service charge to your final bill.
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