THERE’s an old industrial building tucked away down a dark backstreet in Brighouse.
Little is known about the building’s original heritage, but it probably involved the nearby canal.
Over the years it has had many reincarnations, as a nightclub called Junction 25, appropriately 25 years ago, then various restaurants, including La Romantica and Vesuvio.
Eighteen months ago, the edifice reinvented itself once again, this time as Italian restaurant Bellini’s. The owners also have Julio’s restaurant in Halifax.
Being stuck in somewhat of an Italian rut – we nearly always go to da Sandro’s – Trish, my father Kenneth and I decided to break out of the mould and give Bellini’s a try last Friday night.
After driving up and down the industrial wasteland of Phoenix Street several times, we finally gave in and phoned them to ask how to get in.
We discovered that the restaurant backs on to Phoenix Street, but is entered from the front down some steps, just to the left of Sainsbury’s. Easy to find once you know!
If you’re in a wheelchair, phone ahead and stair-free access from the rear can be arranged.
We passed the small bar and entered into a packed, large, windowless dining room with a surprisingly convivial atmosphere.
The old industrial heritage was evident with brick walls, high vaulted ceiling and brick arches through to an open kitchen area. Despite its size, the space was well heated on a cold night.
Part of the area was carpeted and, whatever you think about carpets in restaurants, they do have the advantage of absorbing sound, so there was a pleasant low buzz and we didn’t have to shout at Dad all night.
The faux reflective windows on the walls and bright red paintwork all added to the impression of being in an outdoor courtyard (with a roof) and we rather liked it. It wasn’t posh, but the atmosphere was homely and relaxing.
The abundant waiters were friendly, efficient and eager to please – no attitude problems here.
All of our dishes, except my salad, were served piping hot, delivered straight from the kitchen as soon as they were ready. Our starters all arrived in unison, as did the mains; signs of a well-run kitchen.
The prices were a pleasant surprise. House wine was £10.95 for a bottle of red or white, a bottle of Chablis would only set you back £17.50, and a pint of Tetleys or Carlsberg was £3. Some pubs are dearer than that. We ordered a Gavi di Gavi at £15.95 and were not disappointed.
The Early Bird menu starts at £9.95 for two courses (although we were too late) and all pasta dishes can be served as starter portions for £4.95, pizzas start at £6.25.
Trish’s starter portion of linguine mare e monte with large prawns, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes filled the big dish. It was cooked with garlic and olive oil and the flavour was delicate, rather than memorable. In contrast, the prawns in my avocado prawn salad were tiny and the portion was much smaller, but the avocado was perfectly ripe.
Despite the extensive menu, my father ordered what he always orders in an Italian restaurant and, as a result, has become the Egon Ronay of the margharita pizza.
This one arrived with a thin crust and plenty of cheese and tomato topping. Dad pronounced that it was very good and he preferred it to da Sandro’s.
My tagliatelle with chicken and mushrooms was bright green and orange. The creamy tomato sauce was quite heavy, but I still managed to leave a clean plate.
Trish’s veal with Parma ham and baked mozzarella was delicious. The veal was lean with a light taste which balanced well with the fine ham and melted mozzarella.
I didn’t think the pasta was quite as good as da Sandro’s, but the prices were lower and we’ll add Bellini’s to our list as a less expensive alternative.
VERDICT: Value for money, hearty Italian fare, friendly. Worth a try.
Bellini’s Italian Restaurant
25 Phoenix Street Brighouse
Tel: 01484 400114
Opening hours Tuesday to Saturday 5pm to 10pm, Sunday 12pm to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9pm.
Disabled access By arrangement.
The bill £17.25 a head including drinks
Would you go back? We all said we would