Near the Old Bailey, an externally somewhat unprepossesing Italian restaurant, with friendly and efficient service, and offering cooking that’s above the norm.

Never over-estimate the power of the reviewers. Two days before we lunched at this City Italian, it had been favourably (if not ravingly) appraised by Marina O’Loughlin – a writer highly regarded by her peers, and whose paper boasts a half-million-plus circulation. We were present throughout the lunch service, and no more than half of the restaurant’s dozen tables were ever occupied. As the American say, go figure.

This relative lack of business was a shame, as the restaurant – externally rather unpromising, but offering good food and a warm welcome – turned out to be pretty much precisely as Ms O’M had billed it. The internal décor is just on the right side of stark, and service is notably friendly and efficient.

On the food front, a varied basket of breads provided a good start, and what followed – including a generous starters of precisely-timed scallops, and another of stuffed squid – was all in keeping. A main course sausage dish was perhaps of less interest, but both the cheese plate and, in particular, the tiramisu were of some note. The wine list, relatively reasonably priced, complements nicely.

If you’re in this part of town, then, this seems a difficult place to beat. We hope it will be full now.

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