ITALIAN: Leo's, 3, Chorley New Road, Horwich
RESTAURANTS come and go and fall in and out of favour. Thankfully, Leo's in Horwich is a constant on the culinary map.
It's not as if I could call myself a regular visitor. But in the years that I've lived in the area, I've dined there on several different occasions and always enjoyed the experience.
It still seems strange that the original owner, Leo Bellini, isn't in charge anymore, but the people running the restaurant these days offer an equally warm welcome.
A phone booking for four is also taken in a pleasant manner, so we set off on a recent Sunday with high hopes, and we werent disappointed.
A waiter sits us at a table on the raised part of the restaurant, where we have a good view of everything and everyone.
As always, we're slightly thrown by the arched mirrors on the far wall, which give the illusion the restaurant is twice as big as it is.
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In fact, this isn't a big place, but it's all the more intimate and warm for it.
This is a traditional restaurant, and at around 6pm on a Sunday, you could almost imagine yourself in an eatery in Italy, where everyone is welcome.
The fact that our two daughters get slightly restless as time goes on doesn't matter there's a nice hustle and bustle which drowns out their high-pitched voices and waiting-on staff take it all in their stride.
The regular menu is extensive and covers all the basics pizzas and pasta plus a long list of fish and meat dishes. There's also a "vegetarian corner", though this only has four dishes.
Then, there's the specials board, which is well worth looking at.
We chose our starter from it, which was a pizza with Parma ham and goat's cheese (£7.40), to share. This is one of the nicest pizzas I've ever had. The thin strands of smokey-flavoured ham combined very well with the creamy and crumbly, tangy goat's cheese.
Our girls had a garlic bread (£2) to share, which they enjoyed they finished every last piece.
If you like fish, the starter menu is all you could wish for. Half of the choices feature fish, ranging from king prawns in white wine and fresh garlic (£5.20), to traditional Italian prawn cocktail (£4.25) to tuna bean salad (£3.90). Meat starters range from peppers stuffed with minced beef and spinach (£4.10) to spare ribs (£5).
For my main course, I chose the Cannelloni Fiorentina (£5.90), one of my all-time favourite dishes.
This came as two thin, golden-brown pancakes, rolled up with very finely chopped spinach mixed with minced beef, all in a tomato and bchamel sauce.
It was a simple dish, perfectly done.
My husband had Filetto Surf and Turf (£14.50).
The steak was cooked just as he likes it, which is perfectly pink inside, and the surf element king prawns and "baby prawns" were also to his taste. This is served in a red wine garlic and fresh tomato sauce, with sauted potatoes and baby sweet corn and green beans.
The whole combination went down a treat, and the vegetables were judged first class by both the other half and our greedy children who pinched them off his plate.
This was one of around 30 fish and meat dishes on the menu, from £9.90 for breaded chicken breast with Parma ham, mozzarella cheese and cheese sauce to veal escalopes in sweet Marsala wine sauce (£10.90 to sole with prawns, tomatoes, lemon juice, white wine and capers (£11). There's also a whole range of fillet and Sirloin steak dishes, from £10.50 to £14.50.
For the girls, it was a children's portion of tortellini each, which we had requested plain, but in the event came with mushrooms, onions, ham and cream (Tortellini alla Panna, £5.90 full portion). The youngest liked the extra frills, the eldest didn't.
Desserts went down well with the girls. A nicely presented children's ice cream portion (£2) each kept them happy while dad sipped his coffee with Tia Maria (£3.10).
The puddings are all displayed in a chiller cabinet, and include everything from Tiramisu to various gateaux and ice creams.
With a couple of beers, soft drinks and a glass of wine, the total bill came to £58.50.