Bomboloni encompasses everything that is right with Bristol right now, writes Sammy Milton
The humble Italian restaurant has become something of a balm for many of us.
A comforting place without judgement, or today’s harsh realities of fad dieting, where you can just go in, order a bowl of steaming spaghetti in peace and feel that everything is right again with the world. Sadly, I fear there has been a lack of these, for ‘local’ Italian restaurants have become more expensive, and have featured fewer carbs and more trendy food. Thank god for the new kid on the block, Bomboloni, run by veteran Bristol chef Andrew Griffin – bringing home everything Italian cooking should be.
Arriving last week, we were immediately struck by how busy this place was, even for a drizzly Wednesday evening. It seemed the whole neighbourhood had come to sample the delights – and we felt honoured to be included. Despite this, the staff were chatty, competent and immensely welcoming, and we were seated quickly at a table to look over the menus.
Just the right size, the menu features Italian staples such as pasta, pizza and luscious salads, with a firm nod to local Bristol suppliers. Going for a mix, we started with the grilled Cornish sardines (£6.95) and a plate of cured meats with sourdough and buffalo mozzarella (£8.95).
Sardines are such a joy, and these were certainly no exception. Expertly cooked and pepped up with the juice of a lemon, the fresh, flaky meat was easily pulled from the tiny bones and was so delicately fishy – an honourable start to any meal. The cured meat plate didn’t disappoint either, featuring a selection of classic Italian meats, light, homemade sourdough bread and sweet, bouncy mozzarella.
We dithered over our mains – we really could’ve chosen anything; their menu is so good. In the end, I settled with a bowl of the slow-cooked beef shin ragu with pappardelle (£10.95), whilst my partner went with the brodetto – a fish and shellfish stew with more of that lovely bread (£14.00).
My pasta arrived hot and covered in parmesan and was an incredibly reasonable portion. The meat was tender and flavoured beautifully, and the pasta was perfectly al dente – a warm bowl of happiness. The brodetto was a real treat – the broth was punchy and flavoursome, with pieces of lovingly cooked fish and shellfish in. There was plenty there too, it’s always a risk when you order a fish stew that they will skimp on the fish, but this stepped up to the mark.
For dessert, there really was no other option. We had to try the famous dessert the restaurant is named after. So it was two portions of bomboloni, straight up (£6.95 each). The warm balls of dough arrived on plates, lightly dusted with sugar, accompanied by a bowl of lemon curd and fresh peaches. It was like travelling back to your childhood – the hot donuts were that reassuring. The lemon curd had a welcome tang to counteract the sweet, and the fresh peaches were a wonderfully seasonal addition. It was excellent. We also had the pleasure of trying their homemade cannelloni from their all-day bakery section – the best we’ve ever had.
Bomboloni is an example of everything that is right with Bristol at the moment. Serving up great, homemade dishes to happy local people at reasonable prices – with smiles all round. We’ll be back for sure.
225 Gloucester Road
Bristol BS7 8NR
0117 239 6506