Mild panic strikes whenever I step out of South Kensington tube station. Cars hare around Pelham Street, while ruthless commuters and an army of buggy-pushing nannies do their best to push you off the narrow pavement.
But fear not, there's a 'promised land' - if you survive. Just across the traffic islands you can salivate over Lamborghinis in the car showroom, have a coffee at one of a dozen cafes and now, as I recently discovered, drop into Carluccio's for some Italian cuisine.
Part cafe, part gelateria, delicatessen and restaurant, Carluccio's is a firm favourite with the denizens of Chelsea - particularly families, yummy-mummies and young couples.
On a busy night or lunchtime it is a tight squeeze with the next-door table barely an elbow's-length away. But it lends a boisterous atmosphere to the tiled dining room, and with the help of a few glasses of chilled Prosecco I was more than ready to add to the din.
It is nearly a decade since portly television chef Antonio Carluccio founded his first cafe, but already the brand has bedded down in the swankier London postcodes.
Like all chefs worth their salt, Carluccio has strong principles about his food. It needs to be fresh, simple, authentic, made from good ingredients and provide good value.
Starters of deep-fried mozzarella and grilled shrimp with chilli hit all those notes. There is a range of antipasti platters to share - artichokes, roasted peppers, mushrooms and prosciutto and other classics such as bruschetta giving something for everyone.
Washed down with wine, meaty olives and hunks of focaccia dunked in olive oil and salt, they make for a clean and light meal in themselves.
For those with the appetite of Pavarotti, the main courses are large and hearty. The chicken risotto was excellent, not over-cheesy and without the heaviness I associate with previous risotto experiences, while my date eventually chewed her way through a tender-ish saucer-sized beef steak. The full range of classic Italian deserts are on the menu, sadly the tiramisu is mascarpone-less, but still does the job, as did the chocolate fondant and ice cream.
Nothing can beat a local, family-run trattoria of which London has many.
But despite its chain appeal, Carluccio's veers away from the temptation to become a conveyor belt of average Italian food.
Good size portions of hearty, unfussy food is always a winner in my book.
Throw in warm European service - the staff genuinely care about what they are serving - and a reasonable price, and it gets the nod over other Italian eateries in the mid-range price bracket. Booking ahead is advisable if the Thursday night dinner queue was anything to go by.
One Old Brompton Road,
SW7 3HZ or bookings on 020 7581 8101