What does one do to cheer onself up on a wet Sunday evening? Having been to La Gondola in the Olivia Centre, Glengormley, we now have the answer. It has taken us 7 months to get round to trying this Italian restaurant and I am wondering why.
It does not try to emulate some of the better known Italian restaurants around Belfast city but it is reminiscent of many family Ristorante in urban Italy.
We were welcomed by the waiter, I will get his name next time, and given the menus and a complimentary slice of pizza. There is not a wine list; they keep one red, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one Italian white and one Italian rosé. Naturally we settled for the red. You can bring your own at £3.00 for corkage.
The menu is set out Italian style and is kept simple, there are a good selection of starters or a mixed Antipasto. Pasta, chicken or sirloin mains and a selection of tagliatelli dishes. The pizza menu is separate. There is also a Continental Gourmet section.
This had Beef Carpaccio as an option. I do not normally have a starter but who can resist raw slivers of beef marinaded in lemon with parmesan and crushed black peppercorns? Well not me anyway.
Josephine did side step and just settled for a main of breast of chicken in a porcini sauce (special wild mushrooms with brandy and cream). I got a taste of the sauce and it was delicious to say the least.
My main was Tagliatelli Arribiata, smoked bacon and piquant chilli and tomato sauce. I did not leave any!
Luigi, the chef and owner, came and chatted in a mixture of Italian and English but I will not pretend to have understood much of the Italian. It is one language with which I have never managed to become conversant.
One of the waitresses unfairly slipped a Dolce Menu next to me, but I managed to put off ordering for at least five minutes! There were Crêpes Comedie Francais, which turned out to be two crêpes wrapped around vanilla ice cream and smothered in orange and brandy sauce. Sort of suzette with attitude.
There is no grappa on the drinks menu but, seeing as it prides itself on being authentic Italian, I was sure that if the question were asked it would be forthcoming. Right again; and it went down really well with the coffee.
The chef sent us a lemon liquer over and, having chatted him up we got an invite to his table for Monday night when they are holding a Salsa demonstration.
This is a welcome addition to the myriad of Chinise and Indian restaurants in the area. One hopes it will be supported enough to remain in business.