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ITALIAN is my favourite food, but having travelled in Italy a lot and eaten very well, the husband and I can be very tricky to please when it comes to restaurants here.

Despite it being a Monday night when we made our visit to Antica Roma, there was a warm and buzzy atmosphere in the cosy cream and terracotta red dining room. The first delightful discovery was all the friendly and attentive staff were actually Italian – always a good start.

The menu was the best of Italy’s regional specialities.

I picked the calamari fritti to start – a large portion of l i g h t l y - fried crisp and golden s q u i d , served with a dollop of creamy garlic mayo n n a i s e.

The husband opted for the spiedina di pollo, for the nostalgic reason this skewered, diced chicken cooked in garlic and butter was what we ate in Rome the night we got engaged at the Trevi Fountain.

The succulent, flavour packed chicken and peppers on a bed of rocket was heartily declared far better than the Roman version.

I love vitello Milanese, so I always feel compelled to try this out in Italian restaurants. The Antica Roma version was textbook – a huge flattened veal escalope coated in breadcrumbs and fried to crisp perfection and served with a generous portion of spaghetti cooked with garlic and juicy cherry tomatoes, plus the all-important monster wedge of lemon for squeezing.

Husband went for the wild boar special, a generous cut of meat on the bone with a mushroom and pancetta sauce, served with a side of saute potatoes. We were both speechless for about ten minutes as we concentrated on eating and enjoying the flavours.

We were stuffed to the gills, but just about had space to share a slice of creamy cassata – layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream packed with delicious candied fruit and cream. Yum! A true test of how good an Italian restaurant is lies in the coffee, so we had double espressos on the side.

Perfect – hot, strong and refreshing.

On leaving Antica Roma we both commented howwe really want to go back to Italy very soon. Now that is the sign of a buonissimo meal and a fantastico restaurant.