Isabella's restaurant reviewed by Tara Stevens
If you had a racy Grandma who ran a bistro it would probably look a bit like Isabella’s. Old wooden dining chairs and metal garden furniture vamped with a jaunty splash of paint, mismatched tables clothed in vintage linen, reading lamps trimmed in floral fabrics and sparkly chandeliers adding a sprinkling of glamour. Add a stable of Italian waiters floating about with their long, flowing locks tied back speaking in sultry accented Spanish, being all friendly and on the ball - I got a drink within seconds of sitting down – and there’s something reassuringly old school about the place.
Wednesday night in the depths of the week's miserable austerity and Isabella’s was buzzing to the tunes of a chap from Cuba who was strumming a guitar and crooning covers ranging from Pink Floyd’s ‘wish you were here’ to Jack Johnson’s ‘better together’. Not in-your-face, just pleasant. We shared a garden salad with a massive chunk of freshly grilled tuna belly on the side, followed in my case by tagliata, one of the best ways ever of serving beef. Tagliata means to cut or slice in Italian, and in its most ubiquitous restaurant form it is done in thin slivers and laid over the top of a pile of peppery ruccola leaves with shavings of Parmesan on top of that. Here it comes in man sized slabs, nicely charred on the outside, rosy pink and juicy in the middle, and brushed at the table with a piece of burning rosemary dipped in oil and vinegar. It was quite thrilling, the edible equivalent of burning sage to exorcise hunger. My friend had a little mountain of beef tartar laced with capers and onions, but to my mind there was no contest as to the star dish.
We didn’t have dessert. But should you find yourself in the neighbourhood the dinner menu including 3 anti-pasti, a primero, the tagliata, dessert, water or soft drinks and coffee seems like a good deal for the hungry. We went a la carte and spent €40, including slightly too much wine.
Isabellas, Carrer de Ganduxer 50. Tel: 934 145 769. www.isabellas-restaurant.com. Lunch menu none. Dinner menu €35. Best for: equally good for dinner with friends or a mid-week date.