JANE HARRISON eats at Nonna Rosa III, 119 High Street, Uxbridge, UB8 1JT 01895 233 570
ORIGINALLY a haven for Oliver Cromwell and his Roundheads in 1642, Nonna Rosa III is now a charming, oak-beamed, family-run restaurant that stands out, rather incongruously, in Uxbridge High Street.
It boasts high-quality, freshly cooked food and friendly service.
While the food is pretty good - and I put it no higher than that - it is let down by the desultory service, with either panicked or bored staff rushing past our table in their quest to churn out the food as quickly as possible.
It could be a real gem, but although the ambience is lovely (the interior is really beautiful with its low ceiling and stunning chairs), there is poor attention to detail, such as numerous spelling mistakes on the menu and a specials board that we could not see.
Yet the place was packed, so maybe the fact that veg is included with most main meals and pasta dishes and pizzas are reasonable at about £7.50 means that some people are less discerning - or perhaps I am too fussy.
My husband Michael and I shared a starter - funghi ripieni (mushroom stuffed with mozzarella and garlic) - which was drenched in garlic and very tasty, but did not need the rather hard bread my bit was nestling on.
Michael's bread was soft, which he liked, but he was very hungry. For his main course, he had veal escalope with spaghetti, which he said had a 'good texture, crispy coating and was not greasy'. The real quibble came when he asked for bolognese rather than the tomato sauce it came with and they charged an extra £2.80. That left a really bad taste in the mouth.
Similarly, being told they only did large glasses of wine, not small, was hardly good news for the designated driver - namely me.
For my main course, I opted for one of the specials, liver pepe. On the plus side the calves' liver was deliciously smooth and well-cooked, but the pepper sauce, while novel, killed the delicate flavour of the liver.
Both main dishes were £12.95, which included a small dish of vegetables.
The desserts were all £4.50, but we could only squeeze down a perfectly balanced lemon sorbet, a very generous four scoops with a dribble of honey. I also checked on our neighbour's tiramisu, which she said was fabulous; creamy and not too sweet.
I visited this restaurant a few years ago when both the food and service were great, so it seems a shame that the latter has fallen down. Maybe the staff are more welcoming on a weekday.
On a more positive note they have a good value express lunch at £9.95 and occasional tribute performers, so if they polish up their own act, I might give them another chance.