This review was written before it was announced Buckinghamshire was going into Tier 3 restrictions.

According to Google, Italian cuisine is the most popular in the world, and in the UK it comes second only to Chinese.

Since the 1950s, pasta and pizza have personified Italian food. A home-cooked spaghetti Bolognese is a weekly staple in millions of homes and, according to a recent online survey, the average person eats 731 pizzas in their lifetime.

I love Italian food, so it was a treat for me to discover Luna Rossa in Gerrards Cross serves all the well-known, authentically cooked, Italian dishes you’d expect, plus many more you wouldn’t.

The restaurant has been doing well for more than 12 years. Sadly, as for all other dining establishments, this year has been pretty awful. Offering takeaways has helped keep them going, but when we visited on a Tuesday lunchtime shortly after the second lockdown ended, there was only us and one other table of two dining. Evenings are, thankfully, busier.

Judging by the food, I doubt regulars will stay away too long and hopefully a whole new raft of foodies will find it too.

We arrived, hungry and cold, to be warmly greeted by waiters Manuel and Salvatori and we were soon nibbling on homemade focaccia bread (all their breads are homemade and wonderful). As we dunked it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil while quaffing a deliciously smooth glass of house red, we perused the very large menu which comprises 16 pizza variations and 20 pasta dishes as well as 18 other dishes and seasonal specials.

They also offer a very well-priced, pared-down lunch deal with two courses Monday to Friday for £14 and £15.50 at the weekends, but we chose from the à la carte.

The seafood fritto misto instantly caught hubby’s eye.

Fritto misto just means “mixed fried food”. Doesn’t it sound better in Italian? It turned out to be a mountain of squid rings, whitebait, prawns and cod pieces in a super light batter. Hubby was soon regretting his enthusiasm with the aforementioned focaccia. I suggested to the waiter that this should be relabelled as a sharing dish as it was more than generous.

For me it was the much more reasonably sized and quite delicious king prawns in a fluffy, light tempura batter with chilli dressing and an accompaniment of chopped marinated veg.

Hubby was torn on his mains. He was tempted to try their Spaghetti Vongole Veraci, pasta with wild clams, chilli, garlic and cherry tomatoes, or perhaps the Paccheri al Porcini, tubed pasta with spicy sausage, smoked provola, porcini, cherry tomatoes and parmesan.

But after such a mammoth serving of seafood as a starter he opted for one of his favourites: chicken Milanese. The large (of course) flattened chicken breast was crispy and delicious and came with a perfect cheffy swirl of spaghetti doused in a fresh tomato sauce.

For mains I couldn’t resist the wild boar ragu pappardelle. This classic, rustic dish with cubed, tender meat, was hearty and rich in flavour and it came as no surprise to learn that one of the restaurant’s Italian chefs specialises in pasta.

I can’t remember ever wishing this before, but halfway through the dish I was wishing my stomach was bigger. Portions here are very generous and I immediately realised why the couple on the other table had ordered their starter and pizza to share. Half portions of some dishes are available.

Luckily none went to waste as our waiter packed up our leftovers as a takeaway. He assured us that was common practice here.

Needless to say, we didn’t manage to eat a dessert, but with careful meal planning next time I intend to try their baba al limoncello, a light sponge soaked in the famous lemon liqueur and filled with custard cream. Or possibly the Cassata Siciliana, a traditional Sicilian semifreddo with layers of sabayon, cream and chocolate ice cream and Strega liqueur.

Bring forth the elasticated trousers!