Thursday, 15 September 2011

Restaurant: Bella Marino - Straits Quay, Penang

I visited this restaurant some time back for a quick snack but thought I'd save doing a write-up until I had eaten a full meal there. Recently I did just that. Bella Marina is located at the increasingly popular Straits Quay though for me the, the place still has much more going for it in terms of eateries that it does shops. The restaurant is on the ground floor and is next door to Healy Mac's pub. It is decked out in the familiar Italian theme of green, black, white and red and is quite nicely laid out on the inside with a welcoming enough decor and design. That said I am not to keen on the narrow corridor of tables between the front and the rear of the restaurant which as where I sat last time and which felt decidedly claustrophobic. For me, the best places to get a table here would be outside or at least in the section of the restaurant which overlooks the marina.

Despite being just within the rainy season we took the opportunity to sit outside which was very pleasant, despite the somewhat dreary tones of 70s/80s music coming from the pub next door. The waiting staff were pleasant and and efficient if a little over enthusiastic. We started the meal with mushroom soup which was a little thin and watery for me and raised the question of how fresh it was wink. It was pleasant enough but at RM 11.90 was pushing the upper levels of price for the quality. So, somewhat uninspiring starter out of the way, it was on to the mains.

We ordered a pizza calzonne (a folded style of pizza) and a salmon salad. Starting with the salad I have to say I wasn't at all impressed. There was enough salmon for sure but the salad component consisted of a few capers, rather too much lemon olive oil with a handful of rocket leaves merely tossed on top. Presentation then, absolute zero and for RM 25 in a restaurant in this somewhat prestigious location I thought it was very very poor and over-priced. A chef undergoing the most basic level of training would learn how to dress simple, and even complex, salads so they look appealing and use ingredients that can deliver a wow in taste. Not here, in fact the impression that was created is that the chef simply couldn't be bothered. On to the pizza, we did ask for the salad to be served at the same time as the pizza and this did happen, though I suspect at the risk of pushing the rocket leaves dangerously close to their 'use by' date as the pizza took AN AGE to arrive, despite the restaurant being empty. The pizza did look quite appealing and the dough was crisp and tasty. But what of the filling? This was a big let down. The pizza was full enough but it consisted of mozarella cheese, turkey-ham, and potato!! Albeit it says this clearly on the menu one would have expected some further ingredients to provide the flavour many Italian pizzas can deliver. Sadly no, no garlic, no tomato, no peppers etc etc etc. Result, a bland and somewhat tasteless pizza that became a chore to eat towards the end, not helped by the large chunks of slightly undercooked and unseasoned potato. For UK readers, think of a second-rate Euro cafe take on a Cornish pastie but without the flavour. Sadly then the pizza too was a no no.

Bella Marina for me on this occasion was something of a let down and at RM 120, considering the food quality, quite poor value for money. Couple this with the fact that the last pizza I tried there was overly salty, took even longer to arrive (the place was busier that time) and was not helped by an overly enthusiastic waiter trying to whip the plate from under me as I placed the last morsel in my mouth, it doesn't create a good impression. For now at least, this gives me cause enough to give Bella Marina a miss for a while. On the plus side, there is a wide enough range of drinks here with a very pleasant mango/lychee smoothie costing around RM 8 and of course, as I mentioned, the location is good, a can of Tiger though edges up to the Straits Quay premium price of 10.90. It may well also be that the pasta and/or meat dishes are OK as well but in light of the lack of taste, poor presentation and poor value I have experienced thus far I'm afraid I won't be in a rush to try!!! cry

If I had to eat at Straits Quay I'd almost certainly eat elsewhere and for Italian I'll stick to Michaelangelos in Gurney Plaza thank you very much!


  1. are there any good eating outlets at Straits Quay? I endured robotic service and dull food (curry laksa, chicken rice) there last night at Pappa's

  2. It wouldn't be my first choice of a place to eat that's for sure, or likely, second. Pappa's I find OK but I view it as a fast-food joint. Their Assam Laksa tastes of little other than pepper!! Blue Reef I quite like, but once in a while, and Nyonya Breeze on the first floor is OK. yet to try Aqua but it looks promising.


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