Eat local Classic Italian dishes that won't break the bank
La Passione is one of those small, family-run Italian restaurants untouched by time or fashions. I soon realised this when I asked for an affogato – that popular dessert of hot, strong espresso poured over vanilla ice cream.
It's a dish that has become something of a staple in most Italian restaurants elsewhere in the city but affogato clearly hasn't arrived in Kingswood... until now.
It wasn't that I was being a difficult customer. I just didn't fancy any of the other desserts pictured on the laminated pudding menu. They had ice cream and they had espresso, so it seemed like a harmless request.
What followed was like something from a Peter Kay sketch ("Garlic bread? What, you mean you want garlic on bread?") as I tried to explain to the Italian waiter what I meant.
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"So, you want an ice cream and an espresso... and you want me to pour the coffee over the ice cream?" he shrugged, scratching his head as he returned to the bar to discuss it with the rest of the staff.
He reappeared from the kitchen a few minutes later with said affogato and it was perfect – the strong coffee forming a pool beneath the vanilla ice cream.
It was an enjoyable end to a meal that had surprised me in more ways than one. The restaurant itself is quite basic, with a strange combination of tangerine, cream and lime paintwork that emulates the red, white and green of the Italian flag but just misses the mark on the Dulux chart.
The vast menu doesn't stray far from the usual template of small Italian restaurants of the old school – lots of pasta dishes and pizzas, a few meat, fish and poultry dishes and everything so reasonably priced you can eat like Pavarotti for less than a tenner.
I started with the funghi con garlic (£4.75) – sliced button mushrooms sautéed in lots of garlic butter and served with a garnish of freshly sliced cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato and red onion.
To follow, a huge bowl of spaghetti arrabbiata (£7.50) with the pasta coated in a rich, slightly fiery red wine tomato sauce studded with chunks of ham, onion and Bolognese- style minced meat. OK, it wasn't anything that can't be knocked up at home, but it was well made and generous.
As for that affogato – I hope they decide to put it on the menu from now on. It may well become the best-seller.