Amore, Tavistock Place, Sunderland

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A makeover and a new menu drew us to Tavistock Place to see if Amore could still hang on to its title as one of the better Italian restaurants in the city.

I’m happy to report that though there may have been changes made, the quality remains.

Our visit on the final Wednesday in June meant we could redeem one of the Restaurant Wednesday vouchers from the Sunderland Live website, which gave diners 15 per cent off their bill at selected restaurants throughout last month.

It was a great gimmick to pull people into the often ghost town-esque city centre mid-week, but we were only a sprinkling of diners to be taking up the offer.

The loss of the nearby car park to make way for Software City means Amore has to think of more incentives than ever to lure people to visit this corner of the centre.

The makeover is a good start.

New additions like a New York skyline mural across one wall, painted by local artist Frank Styles, help to make the basement-set restaurant feel more welcoming, while events such as a Supper Club, starting on July 26, and featuring live blues, soul and jazz, offer up post-dinner entertainment.

The most important attraction of all, however, is, of course, the food.

A new a la carte menu boasts the menu’s mainstay of Italian dishes, but also foods inspired by more far-flung corners of the globe.

To start, I chose the roast tomato stuffed with goats cheese, rocket and beetroot garnish (£4.45). Service was swift, presentation spot-on and it was a delicious fusion of subtle flavours which got the meal off to a flying start.

My scoffing partner Jane, meanwhile, tucked into a crostini funghi formaggio – field mushroom filled with blue cheese, topped with apple salad for £4.95 – a chunky and lightly-cooked mushroom, topped with a mix of tangy cheese and sweet slices of apple, which blended together perfectly in a hearty portion.

For my main meal I chose one of the Eastern-inspired additions to the a la carte menu: the teriyaki steak.

There are three options for steak – sirloin, 8oz fillet and T Bone 14oz – my choice of fillet gave it a price tag of £19.95. It’s pricey, but most definitely worth it.

The perfectly tender meat came with a lip-smackingly good sauce – a blend of soy sauce, mirin and subtle hint of honey.

I’d not sampled mirin before, but apparently it’s an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking and is a sweet rice wine. Whatever it was, it tasted divine – packing a punch without detracting from the meat flavour.

Appetite whetted from her starter, Jane also tried out one of Amore’s new Asian-fusion dishes for her main.

Pollo Asiana comes marinated in Eastern spices, with a salad tossed in a garlic, lime, chilli and fish sauce, for £13.95. The generous portion of chicken was coated in a thick sauce that was a little too salty for her tastes, but was redeemed by a fantastically fresh salad.

For those after a cheaper alternative, take advantage of the Tuesday and Wednesday Amore Blues offer, which means you can pick up a two-course meal and a glass of wine for £10.

Katy Wheeler

Twitter: @sunechokaty