Italian cuisine is famous all over the world for two main dishes: pasta and pizza. Situated only a few minutes from Cardiff city center (154 Cowbridge Rd E) however, there is a restaurant which offers much more than that: Calabrisella. And I’ll tell you; it is well worth trying.
Opened in 2014, Calabrisella is not only a pizzeria. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can eat in or take away. The menu is vast, ranging from Italian pastries, paninis and pizza, to dishes of the day with risotto al Pernod and homemade pasta and sauces. They even provide a classic English fry up on their breakfast menu just in case!
As an Italian myself, after a month or so away from home, I was already missing authentic Italian food. So, after hours of researching online to find the best pizza in Cardiff, I found my way to Calabrisella. After calling several times, I finally nabbed a reservation; as one of the most popular Italian restaurants in the city, it’s almost always fully booked.
Around 25 minutes on foot from the city center, on a pleasant street bursting with international restaurants, there is no excuse to not dive fully into the menu once you arrive. Of course, being authentically Italian, when we arrived the table was not ready yet, but the location and the people working there made us quickly feel more than welcome. The rustic aesthetic with Italian objects hanging on the walls, chefs and waitresses speaking Italian and our complimentary appetizers of arancini and fried pizza dough with rosemary, made me feel right at home.
the smokey scamorza cheese contrasted perfectly with the sweet and delicate taste of the veggies
After enjoying the appetizers, we sat on a cosy table on the ground floor and ordered our pizzas. The service was fast and the food was excellent. I ordered pizza Parmigiana and even though this kind of pizza is usually quite heavy, it was delightfully easy to digest. The aubergines were cooked to perfection and the smokey scamorza cheese contrasted perfectly with the sweet and delicate taste of the veggies. The dough was well-cooked and the crust was of a medium thickness; crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Pizzas are served on a rotating wooden dish, which is not a bad idea if you want to share with friends. However, the table was too small to be able to “rotate” all of our plates. The 14” pizza was really filling so we did not order a dessert, but this made for the perfect excuse to revisit.
The balance between the sugary sweetness of the cream and the strong, bitter taste of the coffee was the perfect combination
The second time I reserved a week in advance, which was the right amount of time to find the spot and time during the week I wanted. I ordered the same pizza (Parmigiana) – having fallen in love with it the first time – and instead of eating the appetizer I went for a dessert: ricotta cake. Unfortunately, it did not meet my expectations, being slightly too sugary and creamy. However, I had the chance to try the coffee cake ordered by a friend of mine and that was delicious! The balance between the sugary sweetness of the cream and the strong, bitter taste of the coffee was the perfect combination.
Finally, the bill on both visits was more than reasonable, spending less than £13 for two courses and a drink and what’s more, they have great new updates on the way. They are currently refurnishing and renovating the kitchen, a month ago they renewed their menu (which, of course, means that I need to go back and try it) and they have introduced ‘Calabrisella on the Road’: a pizza van with a wood-burning oven which brings their pizzas and the Italian charm to you for a special treat!
The Cafè-Restaurant Calabrisella is good for any occasion. Do not be discouraged by the distance from the city center, the food is well worth it! Not only has it been nominated for the Best Take-Away Food in Wales of the Year 2016-17 by South Wales Echo, but it’s five-hundred reviews on TripAdvisor boast an average rating of 4.5 stars. So, whether you’re a pizza lover or you just fancy Italian food, give Calabrisella a go. It may be your first, but it definitely won’t be your last trip there!
Images: Courtesy of Calabrisella Cardiff Facebook