Lunch Delicious dishes and plenty of bargains
Pietro and Teresa Tallo must have jumped at the chance to take over this prime site in the heart of Nailsea last year. After all, it had been part of the successful Bottelino's chain for 15 years and an Italian restaurant that had built up a loyal following over that time.
The Tallo family are no newcomers to the local restaurant scene. They have been running their popular trattoria in Bristol's Small Street for the past 22 years.
In a town with so few restaurants, it was no real surprise to find Europa doing a brisk trade on a Tuesday lunchtime in late January. Most of my fellow diners appeared to be regulars who knew manager Guiseppe Esposito and his staff on first name terms. The rest were local office workers with laminated passes dangling around their necks, team-building over bowls of pasta.
The restaurant occupies a large corner site with windows on two sides, one of which looks out across the car park for shoppers heading to Waitrose. "It's a lovely view… just imagine that's the sea," joked one of the charming waiters as he ushered a group of silver-haired ladies to their table.
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As is usually the case with traditional Italian restaurants, the menu is vast. You could probably eat here twice a week for a year and still not sample every dish on offer.
There are plenty of bargains to be had, including the mid-week special. This menu runs Monday to Thursday and means you can order three courses for £13.95 or two courses for £10.45.
At lunchtime, there is also a very attractive deal of pasta and pizza main courses for £6 including a portion of garlic bread or bowl of salad.
I kicked off with melanzane Parmigiana (baked aubergine with ragu sauce and Parmesan topped with mozzarella cheese), which arrived as a sizzling dish packed with layers of aubergine, rich tomato sauce and cheese. It was certainly a comforting dish for a sub-zero day.
I followed this with one of the pizzas on offer, ramping it up with anchovies and olives to make my own version of the Puttanesca pizza also available from the main menu. The pizza had a wonderfully crisp and thin base that was blistered and charred in all the right places. The salty anchovies and piquant olives worked especially well with the slightly sweet tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella.
I don't know if the tiramisu was homemade, as the waitress assured me, but it had the requisite thwack of coffee, cream, booze and cocoa, even if the sponge had the airy lightness I would usually associate with one that came out of a packet. But I'm not complaining.