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A taste of Italy right on your doorstep

BBQ Pizza, Garlic Bread, Italian Antipasti and 'Make your own' vegetarian pizza BBQ Pizza, Garlic Bread, Italian Antipasti and 'Make your own' vegetarian pizza
CHOICE: Make your own pizza – tomato base with mozarella, sweetcorn, peppers and jalapenos CHOICE: Make your own pizza – tomato base with mozarella, sweetcorn, peppers and jalapenos
By Conor McParland

IF you have ever been to Italy before, you will know just how good the local food can be. From pizza to pasta, Italian food is right up there with so many people’s tastebuds.

As a lover of all things Italian, I was hugely excited when the Balmoral Hotel recently started their ‘Italian Night’, available every Tuesday night from 5-10pm. I am no stranger to the thriving Black’s Road establishment and given the quality of food available in the Lady Anne Bistro and the conjoining Stix & Stones, the special-themed night attracted me to pay a visit once again to the Balmoral last Tuesday night.

As ever, we were greeted by a polite and accommodating member of staff on arrival and shown to our table. I was immediately drawn by the décor – a number of Italian flags scattered around the restaurant and a huge blazing fire which was the perfect welcoming as Storm Gareth continued to rage outside.

The themed-menu consists of a range of dishes sought to bring out the authentic taste of Italy and I couldn’t wait to peruse my choices. From pizzas to lasagne and pasta, there looked to be something for everyone, with gluten-free options also available.

Before we had made our choice, we were presented with a large plate of Italian antipasti – basically a mixture of famous Italian nibbles. Much to my surprise, this is a complimentary touch from the Balmoral on the Italian night, designed to delve you into the full authentic Italian experience straight away.

I gazed excitedly at my partner across the table. Where would we start? There were sticks of garlic bread, doughballs, pepperoni, olives and a pasta salad. Add in some jalapenos, peppers with a mouth-watering vinaigrette and mozzarella, it was a sublime clash of flavours which made me feel right in… well Italy! It reminded me much like a version of Spanish Tapas or Chinese Dim Sum which allows for variety and quantity of different options. With quality too, the night was off to a flyer with this beautiful antipasti starter.

On to the main course and after the wonderful starter, me and my partner could not wait for it to arrive. We both went for pizza, and to be honest it would be hard not to given the mouth-watering choices on the menu. A superb handcrafted gourmet pizza range, individually designed with the finest ingredients for your own authentic taste of Italy – it was simply a no-brainer.

After much deliberation, I opted for the BBQ Pizza, which consisted of a BBQ sauce base, mozzarella, chorizo, peri-peri chicken, jalapenos, onions and sweetcorn. Drizzled with just amount the peri-peri sauce, it was a concoction of flavours. A thin-base is always a must for me in order to properly enjoy what is actually on the pizza, instead of having to chew excessive amounts of pizza dough and again this pizza ticked all the right boxes. A BBQ-base and chicken on a pizza is nothing out of the ordinary on a pizza menu but this one was unique, given the intense flavour from the peri-peri sauce. This pizza would put some “Italian” pizza takeaways to shame, quite frankly. It was that good.

Across the table, my partner, who is a vegetarian is no stranger to a good old pizza, after all it is entirely possible to enjoy the classic Italian dish without any meat at all. The menu includes a fantastic make-your-own option from an ingredient list with everything you can think of on it, allowing you to be as adventurous as you like. She went for a classic tomato base complete with mozzarella and a generous helping of sweetcorn, peppers and jalapenos. The pizza looked like a veggie’s delight and again it could not be faulted. Not too heavy on the stomach and full of flavour, it was little surprise she deliberately wanted to keep a few slices to take home.

The pizzas also allow for additional sides, and it wouldn’t be an Italian night without some Garlic Bread. I simply adore anything garlic and this was what garlic bread should be like – oozing with garlic butter as it was torn apart, you could tell it was handcrafted and homemade to perfection. Our additional side of garlic potatoes also trumped the other side options of skinny fries or a tossed salad. It was a carbs heaven evening overall but worth it for the quality and taste of the food we enjoyed.

A packed Tuesday night in the Lady Anne Bistro could only mean other diners, like ourselves, were enjoying the authentic Italian-themed menu on offer. It was something very unique and to their credit, the wonderful team of chefs and staff at the Balmoral are pulling it off to perfection. Most of the pizzas are priced around the £10 mark which is more than worth it, just think how expensive it can be to order a takeaway from some well-known establishments.

The Balmoral Hotel is excelling and the Italian-themed night is just the latest incentive to what is a fantastic establishment. Warm and friendly staff, quality food and best of all, it’s right on your doorstep. I could not recommend the Italian night anymore. Go and check it out for yourself and tell me you don’t feel like you have been to Italy for the night. I cannot wait to plan my next Tuesday night return visit.

Balmoral Hotel,
Blacks Road, Dunmurry, Belfast BT10 0NF
Tel: 028 90 301 234

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