I’D never been to Sorrento before - the Southern Italian town or the restaurant in Sunderland.
I’m not sure why: it’s been in the city as long as I can remember, giving off a warm, welcoming orange hue at the top of Derwent Street.
If that isn’t enough to lure you through the door, the prices probably will.
As you would expect from the name, the food is an Italian affair.
And Happy Hour offers Italian staples at more than reasonable prices.
Bruschetta and garlic bread starters are as little as £2.75 with pasta and pizza mains starting from just £3.95 – supermarket versions don’t cost much less.
There’s also a selection of set menus which shave even more off the price – every night is happy hour here.
No wonder the place was bustling on a Monday night.
Decor-wise, it’s perhaps a little dated with faux ivy festooned across wooden beams and wine bottle makeshift candelabras dripping with melted wax.
But it helps to create a charm you only get in local Italian restaurants, one that welcomes you in on a chilly night. And, like authentic eateries in the homeland, it’s family friendly for those with little legs in tow.
Serving staff were perfectly amiable, though we seemed to be served by a different person each time, which proved problematic – I’ll get to that later.
With only an hour to curtain-up at the Empire show we were seeing, we swerved starters and got stuck into mains instead.
I chose salmon fillet and prawns in a cream sauce with salad (£8.95) with a side dish of asparagus (£1.95) while my friends both chose gamberoni inferno, king prawns in a spicy tomato sauce with jalapenos (£9.95), which were all served together and swiftly.
My main was delicious – a large slab of salmon and plenty of prawns smothered in delicately flavoured sauce. I usually avoid creamy sauces in fear of being presented with a dish swimming in grease, but this was just the right side of rich and had been executed perfectly.
My dining chums, too, enjoyed their choices, huge chunky tiger prawns in a tangy sauce. However, though it was tasty, no doubt about that, it didn’t quite live up to the “inferno” tag – they didn’t reach for a gulp of water once. The problem came from our sides, one of my friend’s vegetables didn’t arrive at all and they were left to share one portion between two while my asparagus arrived so late I only had the dregs of my luscious sauce in which to dip the juicy stalks.
Though there seemed to be plenty of staff on hand, we struggled to catch their eye to notify them sooner about our omissions, but they were apologetic and my side was knocked off the bill, which took the sting out of an otherwise great meal.
With a bottle of house white (£10.95), and mains for four, our bill came to a little over £50. Good food at bargain prices – see you soon Sorrento.