Restaurant review | Bomboloni – "Cheerfully unpretentious"

BPL435 10 October 2019

Bomboloni is a relaxed approach to Italian cuisine

couple of years ago, husband and wife team Andrew and Sara opened their restaurant on Gloucester Road and loved it to life as a low-key Italian diner with a family atmosphere and reasonably-priced eats, all the while making the iconically-Italian ganache-filled doughnuts after which Bomboloni is named a steadfast staple of the dessert menu.

The restaurant is open from midday for lunch and the afternoons are made for coffee and bomboloni pitstops – pizza and pasta can be ordered with a drink for a tenner between 3–5pm before evening service starts.

For many Bristolians, I would imagine it’s become a comfort eating-out destination, when all you need is a plate of something delicious and waiters that feel like friends.

On this Thursday evening, the menu was select yet varied, a whistle-stop tour of Italian classics – cured meats, fish (fried or stewed), creamy pasta, mediterranean salads and marinated vegetables. 

Spotting arancini on the menu was a sign of wonderful things to come and they arrived in true Italian style; ginormous. Thought to be the perfect prepackaged lunch of choice for Sicilian sailors and farmers back in the day, this makes arancini the more refined equivalent of our humble Cornish pasty.

These orange rice balls – arancini also being the Italian word for oranges don’t you know – were perfectly round, crispy and salty, engorged with cheese and served with an accompanying tomato sauce and salad leaves. The roasted tomato and herbs were a sweet complement to the cheesiness.

My ox cheek, Montepulciano and porcini ragu (slow-cooked and garnished with parsley and parmesan) with tagliatelle looked a treat, the meaty ragu piled high and all oily and soft in the mouth, but was slightly underwhelming in the taste department.

My dining companion’s seafood linguine came out on top; wild Atlantic prawns, river Exe mussels, clams, chilli, garlic, tomato and pangrattato. This beautiful medley of crustaceans was a taste sensation, really making us feel like the Med had arrived in Bristol, and she paired it with a delicate Pinot Grigio blush.

My glass of Primitivo was deliciously perfumy with a really full, round flavour that lasted forever on the tongue.

By this point, about 8-8.30, the restaurant was buzzing with professionals and families alike drifting in for a drink or meal.

Tragically too full to sample the many varieties of bomboloni on the dolci menu, we rounded things off by sharing a white chocolate, raspberry and pistachio semifreddo. It was a delightfully combination of nutty and melty, the sharply sweet raspberries cutting through the creaminess.

That’s enough from me – open Tuesday to Saturday 10am–10pm, Bomboloni is ready and welcoming to any newcomers with open arms. 

Caitlin Bowring

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Bomboloni, 225 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8NR / 0117 239 6506 / www.bomboloni.net

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