Angelo’s, West Sunniside, Sunderland

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Mouth-watering food in elegant surroundings is Angelo’s’ claim to fame.

Throw in some good company and it makes for the perfect dinner date.

Angelo’s’ high ceilings and original features are as an appealing restaurant interior as you could hope to find in Sunderland.

The Grade II-listed building in Sunniside is the perfect setting for romantic encounters.

Although the love vibes were wasted on two pals enjoying a catch up on gossip before heading to the cinema, we definitely appreciated the excellent efforts of the kitchen, which gives it the edge over the (many) other Italians in the city.

Granted, the prices reflect this, but by the end of the meal we appreciated the extra pounds we’d spent – all £33 of them.

I’m not a big fan of pizza and pasta, so my eyes lit up after spotting belly pork. The most succulent part of the pig – pancetta, to give it its Italian name – appeals to this fat-fancier.

Oven roasted and served with a European-inspired mix of borlotti beans and spicy chorizo sausage, with a garlic and rosemary sauce, this pork rose head and trotters above any low-fat, skinless chicken.

Golden, crispy crackling and a layer of creamy fat-encased meat packed with flavour, contrasted with salty chunks of sausage.

The sauce was heavier on the rosemary than the garlic, but the distinctive herb was the ideal accompaniment.

My friend has a new-found obsession with diet and fitness, so he poured over the pasta menu, muttering about “carb loading”.

He eventually chose paccheri ai fruitti di mare – large tubes of pasta, mixed with king prawns, calamari, mussels, clams and cherry tomatoes.

Clams and mussels were a little on the small side, he complained, but every last tube disappeared and the sauce was soaked up by the complimentary bread.

Angelo’s’ menu is compact, but each dish packs in a mouth-watering combination of ingredients, with a selection of chef’s specials, which change weekly.

Service wasn’t on the speedy side, despite the restaurant being half-empty on a weeknight.

If we’d gone for the three-course special menu, available for £13.95, Monday to Thursday from 6.45pm, we probably wouldn’t have made the opening credits of our film.

Jane O’Neill