Making the most of the outside terrace as it catches the evening sun, Bomboloni is already busy on what is only its second night open.
At 7pm, families are finishing off their meals with bowls of gelato and the fried round Italian doughnuts from which it takes its name, while couples and small groups of friends are beginning to drift in for a glass of wine.
There is certainly a buzz about the place that most recently was Biblos on the Hill, prior to that Zazu’s Kitchen and once upon a time the much missed Bistro La Barrique, now to be found only in Bath.
Bomboloni has been opened by Andrew Griffin, formerly at Tart on Gloucester Road and Prego in Westbury Park, with his wife Sara and their daughter Molly also employed here.
Inside, it’s table service – even for a breakfast coffee – from friendly staff, and a trendy interior straight out of a Pinterest board: subway tiles and reclaimed scaffold board shelves in the small, well-stocked bar; dark grey paint, bright lamps and mismatched picture frames on the walls of the dining room.
It’s chic and elegant and light, with the door open and a cool evening breeze wafting in.
My companion and I peruse the menu, designed with a graphic print of colourful bomboloni, and select bottled Birra Moretti from a good drinks selection (including local Moor Beer, gluten-free Peroni and a purely Italian wine list).
The food menu is short – just five starters and six main courses to choose from, plus three pizzas – but the pricing is extremely reasonable (all the mains come in under £12) and everything sounds delicious.
We are sorely tempted by the arancini (£6.95) – deep fried stuffed balls of rice – but eventually order the cured meat platter (£8.95) to start.
It’s plenty for two people – great quality Parma ham, speck and finocchiona, studded with creamy torn mozzarella and accompanied by a simple dressed rocket salad, green and black olives, and a piece of scorched sourdough.
A little more bread would have been nice to mop up the oil and dressing, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable.
There’s no music playing in the restaurant, but it’s busy enough for the chatter to pervade the space and make it feel full of life.
There’s a long wait for the main course and the waiting staff are beginning to show a little strain as all of the tables fill up with dining guests – well-dressed St Andrews-types who are savouring each mouthful of wine.
When the main courses do arrive, they are spectacularly colourful – the salsicce pizza (£9.95) is studded with generous chunks of sausage, mozzarella, chili and rocket, handmade with a blistered crust, and the grilled prawns smell heavenly, piping hot and with a chargrilled slice of lemon to season the rocket salad and fresh tomatoes.
The prawns are huge and juicy and hot and dramatic. I ask for a stack of napkins and our kindly waitress brings a fingerbowl and a side-plate too, which help me avoid making a complete mess.
The garlic and chili they’ve been cooked in gets a little lost, but the tomato flavour is beautiful, and the sweetness of the fresh tomatoes in the salad is a real stand-out element.
I steal a piece of my companion’s pizza just to check – it’s thin and crisp, fresh and hot with lovely toppings, although the chili is little overpowering and drowns out the gentle mozzarella and rocket when you hit a mouthful. We both clear our plates without hesitation, as do most of the other diners.
There are homemade cakes on the counter and gelato (£2.50) on the desert menu, but there’s really only one choice when it comes to a sweet treat to end our meal.
We share a chocolate bomboloni which isn’t overly sweet – the dark chocolate cream has a rich, bitter kick, and the doughnut outer is feather-light and comforting.
They are a world away from their sickly jam cousins, and I’d pick one over the other every time.
As we leave, every table full, the terrace is starting to fill up again with the next wave of Gloucester Road drinkers, keen for a nice glass of wine and to find out what all the fuss is about.
Bomboloni is much more than a little round doughnut, that’s for sure.
Bomboloni, 225 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8TZ
0117 239 6506