Mela Rossa: How does this newcomer measure up?

Another neighbourhood Italian restaurant. Another place that pleases but doesn’t delight.

I very much wanted to like the recently-opened Mela Rossa because the staff were so friendly and anxious.
But, alas, the meal I ate there with my wife was dull, like many others I’ve eaten at similar establishment in a city that’s chronically short of good Italian restaurants.


The decor

They’ve made the most of the long thin room in which the restaurant is set in a terrace of shops and restaurants in a side street in Kings Heath.
The decor is contemporary and unfussy, with each table set with a shiny red apple to reflect the restaurant’s name.
Inevitably, a large pepper-grinder is brandished.
I thought our table a touch cramped.

The service

The two waiting staff were attentive and efficient and charming. Meals were brought promptly. Glasses filled regularly.

The food

Focaccia all’aglio was a pleasant enough slice of flat bread topped with cheese and tomato, but showed very little garlic flavour and was terribly under-seasoned.
My wife’s grilled asparagus were good thin verdant spears that had been cooked precisely and came with a poached egg that was beautifully runny.
This was the best dish of the evening.
The grilled lamb cutlets I ordered as a main course were plentiful, but cooked well beyond the rare-medium I’d sought.
They had good crunchy and caramelised edges but were dry in parts and showed scant evidence of the garlic, parsley, mint, chilli and lemon seasoning promised by the menu.
The chips with which they came were floppier than a chap in profound need of a little blue pill.
Lynn’s lasagna was an insubstantial pile of something that looked to lack texture and oomph and which was dismissed as ‘odd’.
But the mixed salad we shared was good, fresh and well-dressed.
Plates came with silly and unnecessary decorations.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £25 a head for a starter and meaty main course.
Go cheaper by choosing a pizza or pasta.
Mela Rossa is currently unlicensed but you can take you own and pay corkage.
It’s child-friendly and accessible for the disabled.

Mela Rossa
49 Poplar Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7AD. 0121 448 5150.