Durability and consistency count for a great deal, which may explain the popularity of the well-established and expanding San Carlo chain, which currently boasts a few sites in London, as well as outposts in Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester.
Pitched in the heart of Leeds’s smart legal and business quarter, this outpost promises sleek, stylish good looks and a cheery, welcoming vibe. The light and airy space will trick you into thinking you have taken a trip to the Italian coast, thanks to sunset orange chairs, marble-splashed flooring and cosy banquettes which are perfect for groups. White tablecloths and a well-stacked wall of wine will help you to remember you are in a smart restaurant, however.
When it comes to the food at San Carlo Leeds, you can expect to find a bright, wide-ranging menu which is peppered with trattoria classics such as pizza margherita, lasagne and escalopes of veal in a creamy mustard sauce laced with brandy. Alternatively, dig deeper for the likes of pappardelle with smoked duck and porcini mushrooms, tagliolini with lobster or calf's liver with onions, polenta and Madeira jus.
Once you have finished the main event, round off your meal with San Carolo’s selection of tradition Italian desserts. Perhaps homemade pistachio cake will take your fancy, or maybe it will be a traditional pannacotta that will tempt you – otherwise, there is always the option to keep things simple and pick from a selection of authentic Italian gelato.
San Carlo Leeds’s prices are pretty fair, but it is true that dining the traditional Italian way and enjoying multiple dishes per course can mean your bill starts to stack up. If you are trying to stick to a budget, visit San Carlo Leeds for lunch instead, where you can take advantage of the great value three-course set lunch menu (£16.95 per head).