"this little gem of a place has been off my radar for the last eight years..."
Wow, really? That's a quote from today's Exeter Daily review of none other than Bella Italia in Queen Street.
Now there's nothing wrong with a good impartial review of any restaurant, large or small, but there's a strong whiff of paid reporting in this review.
Take comments like:
“you are most definitely missing out on a little treasure amongst the eateries of Exeter
“a charming little restaurant with quirky decor, wonderful staff who make you feel most welcome and is centrally located
“really was blown away by the restaurant for its atmosphere, staff and their friendliness and by the quality of the food and fabulous flavours
You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled across an authentic, local Italian restaurant I'd imagine.
Not one that's part of the 300-strong Tragus group (who also own Cafe Rouge & Belgo). Nor the one that had a policy of paying waiting staff as little as £2.50 an hour encouraging them to make the rest up from tips (until outlawed in 2009). Even now it still deducts 10% from tips as "administrative charges".
And then there's the food. If you've ever eaten well at a chain Italian restaurant of this size and have ever thought it was good quality, then you really should cook more at home. Try buying a few Gino D'Acampo books, or even a Jamie Oliver or two.
Exeter's got far more to look forward too than identikit chains such as these. They're the places that deserve such praise; Italian cuisine deserves more.