Review: San Marino Restaurant, Chester Road, Sunderland

San Marino restaurant, Chester Road, Sunderland.
San Marino restaurant, Chester Road, Sunderland.
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SOMETIMES it’s harder to notice good things when they’re right under your nose.

Living near Chester Road’s fine array of shops, I’ve driven/walked/staggered by San Marino too many times to mention.

Yet beforehand I’ve never really felt tempted inside, despite the big, bold red, white and green sign, exclaiming “Ristorante Italiano Pizzeria.”

But the fact that it was busy meant a lot of people already knew what I didn’t, that this was a good place to go on a Saturday night .

The decor inside San Marino was appealing, without going overboard with Italian regalia. My missus said it had had a makeover since she went a few years back.

Also, the atmosphere was really nice. I know that sounds a bit twee, but it’s accurate, and important if you want a chilled evening.

From an antipasti list which included mushrooms, mussels and meatballs, my missus had bruschetta, topped with tomato, parmesan shavings and a light balsamic syrup.

It didn’t stay on the plate very long, which is always a good sign.

I had the slightly less Italian sounding salmon and prawns, which was prawns in a Marie Rose sauce, wrapped in the salmon, with a crispy salad and the statutory tomatoes.

As it was lovely, and I was famished, I didn’t bother with unwrapping formalities and wolfed it down.

Earlier we had spotted that one of the ingredients in a calzone pizza on the specials menu, was “chilly.”

Something at the other end of the temperature scale when it arrived was my missus’s main, the lasagne, which was “hotter than hell,” apparently.

When she was eventually able to wade in, it went down a treat and was described as “extremely good” and “didn’t disappoint”.

I thought it could have done with a side as she stole a fair amount of the vegetables – cauli, broccoli, carrots and spuds – which came with my gamberoni al aglio.

The king prawns were nicely cooked and the white wine and garlic sauce was tasty, without being overpowering.

For pudding, she had torta di mele – apple pie to you and me – which came with cream and was “yummy”.

I had Amaretto delight, which was ice cream and biscuit in a sundae glass with a long spoon, and made me feel like I was seven again.

Until I got to the pool of liqueur at the bottom, which had a kick which quickly brought me back to reality.

The cost was a very reasonable £60.65, which included a bottle of rose and two Peronis.

There are discount and happy hours, usually advertised on a board outside.

The staff were extremely attentive and helpful, and it was nice to have a good meal without having to venture into town and bother with everything that goes with that.

For those who can’t be bothered to put on their slap for a night out, the good news is that San Marino also does takeaways.