Set away from the main town centre on the busy stretch of St Albans Road, Vanchino’s is a new family-owned Mediterranean restaurant, writes Jyoti Rambhai.

Although the outside isn’t all that striking, as you enter, it is a whole different story. The first thing you see is a set of plush leather sofas at the front where people can come and sit to enjoy just drinks at the bar or even coffee, which was a nice touch.

The restaurant area is decorated in a turquoise blue with beech wooden tables and chairs - something different but appealing in its simplicity. And the music playing in the background - an acoustic playlist really gives the place a really relaxing vibe.

It was a Tuesday night and when we arrived and the staff were very welcoming and we could choose where we wanted to sit - I think this was partly because we were the first in the restaurant that evening.

There was a nice variety of choice when it came to drinks - both me and my friend order a couple of bottles of Peroni (£3.25), which came swiftly. They have a small but decent range of starters from brushettas to chicken wings - all reasonably priced. We went for the battered calamari (£5.55) and capreze (£4.75), which is a plate of mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, basil and pesto to share. The calamari was cooked perfectly and the sweet chilli sauce that came with the dish really complemented it nicely. The capreze was fresh and the pesto homemade.

They have a wide variety of mains, from pizzas, pasta, grills and salads. I had the Il Padrino pizza (£12.25), which on the menu said it had chicken, mozzarella, mixed peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, oregano and garlic. When it came it also had aubergine on it - I’ve never had aubergine on a pizza before and I have to say I actually enjoyed it. Also to add, the portion is quite big - I couldn’t finish the pizza so took the rest home with me. My friend had the Vanchino’s Kuftes (£14.95) - a Greek inspired dish that comprised of minced beef, pork, chicken, mozzarella and onion, served with chips and a mixed salad, which the waitress also pointed was a popular dish. The kuftes came out looking like a pair of grilled burgers, but my friend said they actually tasted delicious and were something different for a change. The salad was nice, with what seemed like their own salad cream style dressing.

Watford Observer:

Finally dessert - between us we shared the Vanchino’s Sundae (£5.95) and a cheesecake (£5.50). The Sundae was packed full of chocolate brownie, chocolate sauce and ice-cream - I’m not a huge chocolate lover so this was a bit much for me, but I think most people would wolf this dessert down. The cheesecake was a New York cheesecake - although it would’ve been nice if this was specified on the menu - it was absolutely delicious.

Watford Observer:

If you’re looking for an relaxed evening, away from the bustling town centre, with good food and drinks, this is certainly the place. It also does breakfast and lunch and if you don’t want food, you can just sit and catch-up with friends on the sofa.

Vanchino’s, 320 St Albans Road, Watford, 01923 804800.