IT'S A struggle these days to be anything but ambivalent towards high street Italian restaurants.
Pasta Uno, Prezzo, Rizzi's and all other copy-and-paste chains have boiled down Italian food into a mushy nothingness, in the same way that many town centre curry houses have done for the delicacy of Indian cooking.
I'm a fan of cheap, big-tasting quality food accessible to all. That was the calling card that carved a niche for Italian - and Indian - cuisine, yet both for a while seemed intent on their own demise.
There are, of course, exceptions, but the general rule in London has been to expect spectacularly tasty, and pricey, high-end restaurants and pile 'em high, low quality at the other end.
You can flip a coin on whether the restaurants that attempt to bridge that gap flop or fly.
So it was with great suspicion that I swung open the modern glass doors to Rossopomodoro , in Fulham Road.
I need not have worried.
I was greeted by a colourful, bubbly atmosphere, a big hearty handshake from the manager and a large, broad menu of pizza, pasta and grill.
After the olive oil and bread preamble, I steamed into that most Italian of offerings, a fist-sized ball of mozzarella, not the plastic supermarket effort, but 200g of the pudgy-like-cheeks, full fat version.
Not since a Christmas Eve home dinner at my Italian friend's house a few streets away had I tasted mozzarella like it.
Freshly flown in from Napoli, the mozzarella A Bufala (£11.20) even had my 'lactose intolerant' dining partner stuffing her chops. Served on an ample bed of rocket salad and cherry tomatoes it shouldn't have left much room for another starter, the heavy, fried aubergine balls with basil and pecorino cheese ( £7). But I soldiered through, brave soul that I am.
The pizzas (£5.60 to £11) are highly recommended but, for mains, I chose the special ,which was paccheri - a large penne pasta - with swordfish and a generous tapenade.
Not one to duck out of a feast, my special lady friend went A Salsiccia - the Neapolitan sausage with well-garlicked, wild turnip tops (£11.50). I wrestled a mouthful from her fork, tasting turnip tops for the first time. Soft and akin to spinach in texture, they were a delight with the meaty sausage.
Stuffed to my eyeballs on the ample portions, but not one to demur in the line of duty, I chose a dessert called the Bebe - Rossopomodoro's tiramisu. It was a decent effort, if not as alcohol-infused as I like it.
Rossopomodoro is a cracking restaurant, serving up as close to traditional Italian food as you will get, for reasonable prices. Expect generous portions, warm service and unfussy, quality food. It's 'splendido', as the Italians say.
The restaurant gets busy on match days, being not far from Stamford Bridge. If the sight of the Chelsea FC horde is likely to put you off your gnocchi, plan to go when the Blues are away.