Aqua Restaurants

Please click individual locations below for more details


Since opening in 1998, Aqua Welsh Back has consistently held its deserved position at the top of the listings as one of Bristol’s original and finest waterside dining destinations.


Aqua Tipping Policy

Aqua continues to operate a combined tipping policy. We recognise that the waiter has a lot to do with providing excellent service, however they wouldn’t be able to complete their job without the help of the rest of the team from runners to kitchen porters we ensure that everyone benefits.

There are many forms of handling cash tips in restaurants and we have chosen our policy because we feel it is the fairest system out there. Our staff enjoy working with this system as they get to see the end result at the end of their shift, not only that but it is a great way of showing them that their guests have had a great time. Aqua chooses not to add a service charge to the bill (unless you are dining with a group of more than 6 where a 10% discretionary service charge is added to the bill).

At no point do the waiters or waitresses wages suffer or do we at any point make up their wages with the cash tips received. As a business we work extremely hard to develop our great teams and earn the loyalty and trust from our employees.

We discuss in great detail our policy with anyone joining the company to ensure that we are transparent, open and fair with them. It is written in our employment contracts, starter packs and explained before anyone joins the company. Our tipping policy is proven and perfectly legal. We have had professional advice from a number of employment law solicitors and HR professionals as well as being checked and sanctioned by the tax authorities.

We have spoken to all employees to make sure they are happy and comfortable with our policy. The positivity and loyalty that came from our employees just shows that we have wonderful teams.

Aqua started as a local business within Bristol in 1998 and we still hold the same core family values to heart. We work with local communities and support our teams to get the best out of employees. We will continue to grow our business and deliver great food and service throughout our restaurants.

For further queries please contact


Welcome to Aqua, the home of modern Italian cuisine where our menus are thoughtfully tailored to meet our guests’ tastes and expectations. Our aim is to ensure that you have a memorable experience, with impeccable service and great food.

Aqua has open kitchens in all of its restaurants to create that sense of theatre. All of our food is fresh and freshly prepared to create those wonderful Italian flavours day-in day-out. We like to use the best of produce so that our guests can experience the best of creations. We source all of our cured meats and Italian produce from Italy and use our local suppliers for all of our butchery, fish and veg requirements.

We like to produce menus that are unique and produce dishes that you would not necessarily cook at home. These are our point of difference items that we continually work on to produce flavours that excite the senses. Being Italian, we like to use a range of big bold flavours.

Aqua is a wonderful neighbourhood restaurant where you can pop in at any time. Our menus cater for every occasion, whatever your appetite. Pop in for a chat with friends over coffee, or enjoy some of our lighter bites. You are welcome to enjoy our relaxing and stylish interiors all day. We serve coffee and cake in the morning and food from 12pm, so whether you’re in a rush or want to indulge yourself, Aqua is the place to be.

Founded in Bristol in 1998, Aqua has grown and evolved over the years but remains a great independent, local Italian restaurant. It is proprietor Richard Smithson’s goal to deliver contemporary Anglo-Italian food to local neighbourhoods and encourage diners to pop in at any time to experience our tailored services and food. The success of Richard’s vision today is thanks to our team of talented chefs and charismatic managers. We have built our reputation on our guests’ satisfaction and strive to deliver and exceed their expectations every day. This has been our motto from day one.

The Restaurants

Our first restaurant on the waterfront, Welshback in Bristol, is a great success of ours. It still remains at the top of the listings in Bristol and offers unique dining over the waterfront. It has a great city centre location and is perfect for all occasions. The light and stylish restaurant and bar opens onto the riverside piazza.

In 2007 Aqua went on to open its second restaurant in Bath. A beautifully restored church house, this restaurant offers magnificent dining experiences from the moment you walk through the door. Based in the city centre of Bath, it offers locals affordable dining on their doorstep.

Our restaurant on Whiteladies road was opened in Bristol in 2009, following the successful opening of the restaurant in Bath. A grade II listed building that has been wonderfully restored to create a warm and inviting dining experience with high ceilings and dramatic architecture.

2013 saw the opening of our restaurants in Milton Keynes and Portishead. Milton Keynes is a superb building that is spread across three floors and offers intimate, relaxed dining. With stylish, comfortable decor it’s a welcoming place to come and meet friends, colleagues or family any time of the day.

Our Portishead restaurant sits right on the marina and has a fantastic piazza for those long summer days – you can just sit and unwind with a drink of your choice watching the sun go down. Inside the restaurant is light and airy with great views of the marina.

More recently we opened our restaurants in Lewes and Worthing, both occupying wonderful buildings and having been beautiful designed and restored to Aqua's famous stylish interiors creating wonderful dining experiences.

All of our restaurants have their own individual character. We encourage our teams to stamp their own mark on their restaurants and build their own relationships with their guests with our guidance along the way.

Our Team

Without our talented and professional team we would not be able to do what we do today. We all like to work together as a family and this has stood us in good stead over the years as we have grown internally and externally. You need a great support network within to help you grow your restaurants and this is what Aqua has today.

We work very closely with all of our team members to help develop them as individuals so that Aqua can operate as a successful restaurant. We provide great training for all of our team, which in turn helps us achieve what we want to deliver. The dedication of the senior members of each restaurant helps us achieve the status we enjoy today.

Cook Book

Emelia Smithson’s passion for food began in early childhood; her enthusiasm encouraged by an already culinary-adept family. Her abilities and knowledge were further honed in some of London’s most prestigious hotels and restaurant kitchens.

Today, alongside her husband Richard, Emelia is involved in the development of the ever-expanding Aqua restaurant group. Emelia takes you on what has been a sixteen-year journey through one of the West Country’s most popular and revered restaurant kitchens. Disclosing the recipes, techniques and skills acquired along the way.

Her informed, relaxed, yet concise approach enables you to achieve professional results, effortlessly.


Message Board

We have a lovely new Piazza at our Welshback restaurant in Bristol. Enjoy outside heated dining all year round with cosy booth seating and views across the river.

We are pleased to announce that we will be opening our next restaurant in Worthing, West Sussex. We are delighted to be opening down in Worthing and growing our family.


#Christmas #party #desserts lined up and ready to go 🎄 It's been a busy weekend at Aqua and we can't wait to welco…

Striploin of beef served with a huge, homemade Yorkshire pudding 🍴 #AquaItalia #AquaRestaurant #ItalianRestaurant

When it comes to cocktails, we don't mess around 🍸 #AquaItalia #AquaRestaurant #ItalianRestaurant #ItalianFood

Cookin' up a storm 🥘 📸 by Restaurants Brighton #AquaItalia #AquaRestaurant #ItalianRestaurant #ItalianFood #Food

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