Escaping from an evening of cold English drizzle, it was a real treat to be transported to the warmer climes of the Mediterranean by Southsea Italian restaurant Soprano’s.

The wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen as you head inside and the friendly service more than make up for this restaurant’s small stature.

Spending an evening out with my boyfriend, we opted for the seafood platter (£15.50) as a starter.

The menu advises sharing this between two or three people, but experience now tells me that only the most ravenous of couples would be able to finish it.

It was certainly an impressive, if slightly intimidating, dish with sardines, whole prawns, a bowl of mussels, smoked salmon, salad, bread and dips.

Even though it was fresh and delicious, we barely managed half before having serious concerns that we wouldn’t be able to eat anything else.

It would easily serve four people as a starter.

There’s a wide selection of reasonably priced main courses on the menu, which sticks to classic Italian dishes.

I went for the chicken risotto (£8.35) and my boyfriend tried the spaghetti bolognese (£7.95).

When our main courses arrived it was easy to see why this has appeared in a national newspapers’ ‘Top 50 Cheap Eats’ –the meals were very tasty and excellent value for money.

For this course, there were no daunting portions, and my risotto was creamy, flavoursome and just the right size.

What really topped the evening off was finishing with an authentic Italian coffee.

I have no idea what the secret to really great coffee is but Soprano’s has certainly found it, and it rounded off a delicious meal perfectly.

Dining at this restaurant on a busy Friday night is a little cramped, but the high ceiling and large window means it isn’t claustrophobic.

Plus, it felt good to eat in a place where every table was full, which gave it real atmosphere.

I think the key to Soprano’s success is that it’s following the model of all good eateries in Italy – classic recipes made well with fresh ingredients.

108 Palmerston Road, Southsea, Hampshire, PO5 3PT. Tel: 023 9281 1139.