ITALIAN restaurants conjure up images of cosy surroundings and romantic candlelit dinners for two – but and my brother turned the stereotype on its head during a midweek bite at Little Venice.

We received a warm welcome and were guided to a table in the middle of the bright, fresh-looking restaurant.

After we ordered a couple of lagers (£4.95 each), I chose the threecourse option from the specials menu (£18.95), beginning with an antipasti platter of mixed cured cold meats, toasted ciabatta, tomato and chilli relish and a rocket garnish. It was a nice light way to start the meal and the relish had a pleasant tang to whet the appetite.

My brother’s normal idea of three-course meal is a beer to start, a whole pizza to himself and another beer for dessert, but this time he plumped for dishes from the main menu, starting with the bruschetta primavera (£4.65). The large dish of goat’s cheese, spinach, red onion and sun-dried tomatoes on baked ciabatta was well presented in a tower and he said the flavours complemented each other well.

For the main, I had triangoli al pesce spada con crema e vino bianco.

The giant triangular ravioli filled with swordfish, ricotta cheese, wild baby fennel and shallots with pan-fried king prawns had a nice mix of flavours and the rich and creamy white wine and parsley sauce helped fill me up.

My brother went for the penne all’ arrabiata pollo (£7.95) and he wasn’t left wanting by the hint of fresh chillies, juicy chicken and pasta cooked to his liking.

For dessert I had the chocolate fudge cake with cream. It was rich and the generous helping of fudge icing was very moreish.

My brother chose the lemon cheesecake (£4.35), which was the dessert of the day, and he said it was a nice light and fluffy pudding.

Throughout the meal the service was friendly and attentive, although it did slow a little towards the end of the night, but that didn’t lessen the overall experience.

The atmosphere also had a decent hum to it despite it being midweek.

I would make a return visit as the menu had plenty to offer.

Neil Watts 

HOW IT RATED Food *** Ambience *** Value for Money **** Service ***