Dinertec @ Bella La Fresca, Paisley Road West, Cardonald

BELLA FRESCA, 2093 PAISLEY ROAD WEST, CARDONALD, GLASGOW TEL:

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0141 882 6995

Happy hour had struck at Tec Towers, but I knew Toots would be happier still with dinner out.

It was time to call in a favour with an old family pal who runs a tasty joint in Cardonald.

So the Buick sped off and headed out west, well near enough - Paisley Road West.

We pulled up at Bella Fresca, a jumping little Italian on the South Side.

Chancing it without a booking, we wondered what the table stakes would be, but a friendly and welcoming waitress showed us to a lovely booth.

Nothing seemed to be too much trouble and before we knew it we were sitting cosily with menus in hand. And with attentive staff, two glasses of house white making their way over to our table faster than you can say Blue Nun.

A great deal was on for the midweek special, but there were so many dishes we were spoiled for choice.

The Moll's eyes were lighting up and my scran scan was about to go into overdrive.

Heartwarming Italian dishes looked just the thing on a wet December night.

I reckoned the Italian breads in this place would be something to write home about, so I plumped for bread and olives followed by sea bass.

For Toots, her favourite chicken liver pate was on the menu and she opted for pasta with prawns for her main.

With our order swiftly taken, we sat back and took in the surroundings. Toots was already eyeing up the tasty take out treats from the deli.

And there was more to this place than meets the eye as the walls are adorned with works of art by local artists which are all for sale. And to this untrained eye they looked pretty decent.

Our starters arrived in no time and you could tell this busy restaurant kept things ticking over.

The pate came on a wooden board, served with rocket and thin, crisp crostini on the side. I even got my paws on the crostini and it was delicious.

Pate connoisseur Toots knows her stuff and this meat treat rocked.

My Italian breads with fruity, light olives on the side hit the spot, with the olives being very moreish.

We were on to good thing here and my taste buds were anticipating the next course.

They weren't to be disappointed. Beautifully cooked sea bass with a gremolata crust was placed in front of me. It flaked off the bone and was delicate and light. Toots eyes lit up with a generous portion of prawns on her piping hot pasta.

My fish couldn't have been better had I been sitting by the Bay of Naples.

As for the Moll's pasta, it was cooked to her liking and the plump prawns made the dish.

We washed it all down with another glass of house white.

Toots had that look about her which meant trouble. She had noticed they had cannoli rolls on the menu as a special desert treat.

There was a panic when the waitress said there was just one left.

"That's fine," Toots pipes up. "We'll share."

I cast my mind back to the last time I saw someone eat a cannoli - small sweet filled pastry roll. It was a certain Don Altobello in the final Godfather movie, when a bite of his favourite pudding, at the end of an opera, also signalled his demise. The cannoli had been poisoned.

I was a little worried when Toots insisted I take a particular end of the cannoli. Was she up to something? No, she just wanted the bigger end. It was an absolute delight, like Christmas in one bite. The filling was a combination of orange and cinnamon flavours and full of ricotta cheese. It topped off a great meal.

I feared this night may cost me a fair bit, but our bill weighed in at just under £60, which wasn't bad at all for what we had enjoyed.

I'll be back, but next time I won't be taking any chances - I'll be ordering my own cannoli...

Food - Excellent

Atmosphere - Good

Service - Good

Food and drink

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