I am seeing more and more that there are no shortage of good places to eat in Essex. There are many towns to discover offering lovely food. Bella Vita is a little off the beaten track for us as my friends live in Epping, but straight on a direct route via an A road and we were there. Not quite near the city centre and definitely for those who need a car, was an Italian which has had some great reviews. Housed in a pub with ceiling beams, exposed brick walls and plush carpet, the old meets newish with contemporary touches such as the lighting, upholstered furniture and cream walls more on the minimalist side than plastered with pictures.

When we visiting on a Saturday afternoon the customer profile was very distinct, an older crowd. Couples over 40, and older still groups of friends and family. Not a lot of young or hip people around at all. Perhaps this changes for the night setting, but I suspect the mature guests are attracted here because of its great food, quiet atmosphere and type of ‘silver’ service. The waiting team wore gloves, yes. The polished service would not have been out of place at The Ritz in London. For my guest and I, we are seldom swayed by this as we prefer the basics like friendliness, speed and knowing your menu.

The menu being Italian had all of the staple dishes you would expect to find as well as some interesting options. For my starter I decided to try one of them with an order of the sliced stuffed pigs trotter pan-fried and served with salsa verde. So, the dish looked a little like spam but a bit more delicate and tasty – posh spam. My guest went for the chicken liver on sliced bread in a rich herby sauce with cherry tomatoes. She was surprised by the fact it tasted very subtle no as liver normally does. Also the texture was not so rubbery and almost melted in ones mouth. A very filling starter to be honest, but we were not about to drop by an Italian and not have pasta.

For main course she went for pasta ribbons in a cream and white sauce with chunks of pancetta. I went for the chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce with potatoes. The food was great and for a quiet atmosphere, it certainly services its purpose. If you want something a little more vibrant and young, this is probably not the place for you – during the day at least. The food was super affordable with a great set menu price of £16.95 for two courses or £19.95 for three. Totally worth it with what comes across as a well prepared menu. Watching other dishes pass us by to other tables, did leave our mouth watering, so there is certainly a wish to return here. It would be good for the parents, the in-laws, that type of thing.

Vita Bella Restaurant
The Tye
East Hanningfield

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August 28, 2017