DINING OUT: A very warm welcome at Andrea’s Italian

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There are an abundance of Italian restaurants from some of the biggest chains in the UK that fill our high streets.

There’s no denying that you can get a good meal and deal at many of these, but if you search a little harder then you’ll find a cracking little ‘Italiano Ristorante’ which is just waiting to be discovered.

Andrea’s is tucked away fairly discreetly in Mare Fair opposite the entrance to the Ibis within Sol Central.

We first discovered Andrea’s when someone bought us an Italian afternoon treat there earlier this year.

We loved it then but our second visit was even better.

Andrea’s is small but perfectly formed with just a few tables dotted around the intimate restaurant.

My husband was greeted with a warm and welcoming handshake by the owner of the restaurant who seemed genuinely pleased to see us. Definitely something you wouldn’t see in a chain restaurant.

We chose our table – complete with fresh flowers, a lantern and flickering candle inside.

Service was instant – this time from a waitress as the owner was busy in the kitchen cooking for other diners.

We started with one large prosecco and a beer before splashing out on a lovely chilled bottle of wine white for around £20 (drinks included in the total cost of the bill).

Our waitress was keen to take our food order but there were so many lovely things to choose from on the menu, which made it difficult including homemade burgers, meat from the grill, fish, pizza, pasta and risotto.

We had spotted the specials board outside when we walked in so for one of our starters we went for the calamari special. We also ordered the cheese, garlic and herb ciabatta bites and thought we’d both pick at the dishes.

While we were waiting for starters, a basket of fresh bread and homemade garlic butter arrived which was delicious and was a complimentary extra which is always a lovely touch.

Although, if we’d had it while we were looking at the menu then we wouldn’t have ordered the garlic bites for starters as well.

The starters arrived promptly and they were huge and exceptional value for money.

The calamari was beautifully cooked with plenty of crunch but not overcooked and rubbery.

The “bites” were in fact a basket of ciabbatta with plenty of garlic and sprinkling of cheese. Far too much for one person but you can’t complain for £3.50.

The restaurant was starting to gradually fill up with other tables and the atmosphere was relaxed and happy.

Main courses next and we opted for the polla parma, which was a free range chicken breast wrapped in parma ham and white wine butter sauce, served with rosemary new potatoes.

The rich buttery sauce was a taste sensation with the tender chicken and the potatoes perfectly seasoned.

Sticking with the Italian theme I went for the lasagne al forno.

Lasagne is always a bit of a risk as it can be dry at some places but I knew we were onto a winner with all the homemade food at Andrea’s and it didn’t disappoint.

There was no way we could fit in a pudding but the owner treated us to a shot of limoncello each, which was the perfect end to our meal.

Andrea’s has been fully refurbished and you can easily forget that you’re sat in the middle of Northampton.

I suspect that not many know about Andrea’s but with a 4.5 overall rating on TripAdvisor and currently ranked number 40 out of 1,084 restaurants in Northampton then it’s on its way up there with the best of them. Andrea’s is most definitely worth a visit for a little taste of Italy.

Andrea’s Italian Restaurant

11 Mare Fair

Northampton

NN1 1SR

Food: Excellent

Value: Very good

Service: Excellent

Disabled access: Accessible with split levels within the restaurant

Parking: Nearby pay and display

TOTAL COST: £61.50 (including drinks)

STAR RATING: 9