JUDGING by the photograph on Marzano’s main menu, George Mason – one of the Fossgate premises’ previous proprietors - clearly prided himself on providing good-value food for the people of York.

Evident for all to see in the excellent 1930s’ image of the staff and shop front are signs advertising attractive prices for tea, cocoa and butter.

And Mr Mason would, no doubt, be pleased that the 17th-century building’s current owners are ensuring his legacy lives on.

He’d be delighted too to see the character of the entrance lovingly retained, including original signage bearing his name outside and inside the Italian restaurant.

That’s not to say the venue hasn’t benefited from a modern makeover with its smart décor including a wooden bar and painted walls, but Marzano have got the balance between old and new just right.

The welcome is also friendly, with the English and Italian waiting staff happy, friendly, engaging, attentive, efficient and confident, adding to the convivial atmosphere that greeted us at 6pm on a Friday night.

A big fan and door that opened out on to the bustling street added to a relaxing atmosphere, which became livelier with happy chitter-chatter, as all but two of the 16 tables were filled when we left, shortly before 7.30pm.

With first impressions good, we chose from a drinks list that included 14 wines, a big selection of spirits and liqueurs, six bottled beers and seven cocktails.

I opted for a large glass of Chilean Merlot which, at £5.95, represented good value.

Moving on to the three-course £17.95 menu – two courses are available for £13.95 – I ordered Funghi D’aglio e Spinaci from the six starters on offer, all but one of which were Vegetarian.

It was a really nice dish with all the flavours coming through – the strength of the parmesan cheese and a subtle measure of garlic combining well with the creamed mushrooms, which were garnished with spinach and thyme.

Three good-sized, crispy pieces of home-made flatbread, meanwhile, helped mop up every last drop of sauce.

My wife Nikki was equally pleased with her well-presented Capra Grill, which saw melted goat’s cheese crumbled on ciabatta and accompanied by caramelised onion, beef tomatoes and mixed leaves.

The cheese was again tasty, not watery and bland as some goat’s cheeses can be, while the onions gave the plate a juice that was soaked up by the perfectly-toasted bread.

Having tagged along, meanwhile, our nine-year-old daughter sampled the two-course £6.95 kids’ menu.

For main course, she plumped for Chicken and Mushroom pizza, with three pizzas and four pasta options available.

I was hoping to sample some, but didn’t get as much as a mouthful, as she demolished the pizza which did look delicious, browned in all the right places and oozing with cheese.

It was a good size too for young appetites, although Ruby did go on to order a side dish of chips which cost £3.50, as we enjoyed our next courses.

We also added a bowl of onion rings, available for the same price, to complement the mains and there was more than enough for two to share.

There was again plenty of variety on the set menu with six pasta dishes, five pizzas and a 10oz rump steak, which included a £3 supplementary payment.

I went for Rigatoni Polpette – beef meatballs with large-tubed pasta served in a tomato sauce with mushrooms, garlic and chillies.

There was no faulting the taste once more with the heat of the chilli just right – it neither blew your head off or left you feeling underwhelmed.

The six meatballs might have been bigger, as might the dish as a whole, but just one side dish between two proved sufficient to bulk up the meal.

Nikki chose Linguine Carbonara and the standard was high once more with the pancetta perfectly crispy in a sauce of excellent consistency that saw mascarpone, pecorino and Grana Padano cheeses blended together with satisfying success.

Both dishes were also nicely-garnished and the pasta was well-cooked.

For dessert, there were eight listed options – five of which were ice cream.

The choice was further limited, however, when my first-choice of Caramel Amaretti Charlotte was unavailable.

Going instead for Toffee, Pear and Chocolate Torte, I wasn’t disappointed.

The slice held its shape despite a nice soft texture, with the thin layer of fruit combining well with the sugary richness of the sweeter ingredients.

Hazelnuts and pistachios were sprinkled on the top, meanwhile, to provide an imaginative ingredient contrast.

Nikki and Ruby had ice cream, with three scoops for adults and two for children.

You could mix and match flavours, which Ruby did with strawberry and vanilla, but Nikki decided to have three scoops of honeycomb.

She felt it was nice and creamy but felt the honeycomb pieces might have been bigger.

The final bill for two adults and one child, including a glass of wine and three soft drinks, was £61.80 at a very versatile restaurant, which catered well for families with children, couples and groups of friends during our visit.