La Galleria, Birmingham
We wanted to try somewhere new for Date Night and I was craving Italian food so this was our first choice and we were not disappointed. Located above the shops on Ethel Street (off New Street, opposite Wagamama) La Galleria is easily missed, but well worth looking up for.
Once we'd found the entrance and gone upstairs, the initial greeting was enthusiastic, friendly, and felt natural and genuine. After a few jokes and having our coats taken we were shown to our cosy window seat for two and were presented with an array of menus.
The food and drink selection is VAST and helpfully they have split the Pizza Menu off so it is separate from the rest of the mains. It features everything from classics to desert pizzas (Nutella, anyone?!). Luckily I knew what I fancied as I'm a creature of habit so didn't need to wade through it all! There's also a separate fish menu (fresh from that day's market) so definitely something for everybody's taste.
I went for my usual favourite starter, Insalata Caprese, and a La Galleria pizza (Tomato, mozzarella, smoked pancetta, scamorza cheese, parmesan, oregano) figuring that if they've named it after the restaurant, then they must be wanting to show it off. I had no idea what scamorza cheese was, but can confirm that it's delicious! My other half had Polpettine Al Pomodoro (Homemade meatballs served in a rich tomato sauce) and Tagliatelle con Funghi with extra chicken, an off-menu request that wasn't even flinched at. All food arrived piping hot, in good time and was all delicious. Good, honest, authentic Italian food with fresh and tasty ingredients.
The service at La Galleria was brilliant: Responsive without being intrusive. I know some people enjoy having their wine topped up by a waiter and being regularly checked up on, however I much prefer to relax, sort my own wine and to be able to call someone over if required, rather than being pestered. They'd got the balance exactly right. We were served by four or five different people but there didn't seem to be any confusion at any point, and it came across as a well-oiled machine. We recognised some staff from other restaurants so they've clearly picked good people and previous training shines through.
The only fault I can find with our experience was the lighting. The clinical white light from the chandeliers of energy bulbs means that La Galleria isn't as cosy and authentic as it otherwise could be, but that is literally my only quibble with the place. Will definitely return to try something else off the menu, if I can narrow it down!
The bill for two courses each and a bottle of mid-priced wine came to about £60 so whilst not the cheapest Italian around, it's certainly not the most expensive either and definitely a better option than the nearby ASK Italian. Delicious food and great value for money.