IT'S Saturday night in Swinegate and the relative calm before Storm Ciara arrives in York.

At this time of the night the street is thronging with people weaving in and out of the bars and restaurants as we head in to find our table at D'Vine, a contemporary Italian that's been recommended to us.

Friend Lucy has long been a fan of this place and mentioned their Wine and Dine for £29 offer of two courses plus a half carafe of wine. Sadly Saturday is the only day of the week we could do and the only day the offer doesn't apply, but still the place was busy as we were shown to our seats.

We opted to be seated upstairs away from the downstairs bar and the first thing we noticed was the decor. Nowhere is there the heritage paint and exposed beams you get in many of the city's trendier restaurants. Instead at D'Vine you are treated to a version of opulence that falls somewhere between a footballer's wife's boudoir and Liberace's dining room.

For starters there's a mirrored wall, followed by a main of shiny wallpaper and crystal chandeliers to finish. The vibe is very much continental holiday restaurant abroad, including the music which featured chart toppers from the early 2000s. If this isn't to your liking then don't be put off, we haven't got to the food yet.

No sooner were we seated than our waitress brought menus and we chose a bottle of red wine, a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for £20. Once it arrived we asked for a few extra minutes to pore over our choices. You won't be bamboozled, they have struck a good balance, offering traditional Italian fare from a range of pizzas to pastas, grilled meats and vegetarian options.

Jordan went for the risotto mozzarella sticks (£4.95) with a quattro formaggio pizza (£10.95) with grilled asparagus on the side (£2.95). Meanwhile I went for calamari (£6.95) and the mixed seafood linguini (£13.95).

One of the benefits of a simple menu is the food arrives quickly and ours was on the table quick smart. Jordan's sizeable starter came served on a slick of tomato sauce and there was no scrimping on the garlic. It was a nice cheesy risotto coated in copious crunchy bread crumbs.

My calamari was four gold rings of battered squid on a bed of rocket served with an aioli dip. I'd ordered it to see how it compared with my favourite version of this dish from Carluccio's, and sadly it did fall short, but not far and only because the batter was a bit thicker than I'd have liked. The mozzarella sticks however were heavenly and made me wish that's what I'd chosen.

A brief chat and a few glugs of wine later and our mains were in front of us.

Stiff competition amongst Italian restaurants in York means good pizza can be relied on, and in this respect it's the Naples of the north. D'Vine's quattro formaggio can be counted amongst the best in the city - with a blend of cheeses which meant none over-powered the other and a thin and light crust just the right side of crunchy.

The seafood linguini was crammed with scallops, mussels and prawns, and for someone like me, who loves their shellfish, it was pure delight.

We shared the side of grilled asparagus, which was served on a drizzle of balsamic. It was a delicious testament to the restaurant's sourcing of quality ingredients.

The desserts we chose at £4.95 each were a chocolate fondant for me and a tiramisu for Jordan. Hands down, my fondant was the best I have ever had. A wonderful mix of sponge and rich melt in the middle sauce, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a strawberry garnish. The tiramisu looked daunting, but was deceptively light. A well-soaked sponge added a welcome boozy dimension to this Italian classic.

Before we finish, we must add a line about the staff. Service was near faultless the entire night. The waitresses who served us were full of smiles and exactly the right level of attentive without ever hovering. There was no waiting for anything.

From our seat at the window we could look across to the open kitchen and see the finishing touches being added to the dishes as they were being served, so we were assured of the skills involved behind the scenes too.

On a night when near neighbour Lucia's was hosting a re-launch and in a week when The Old House restaurant opened in Petergate, competition is hotting up in this part of the city, but don't discount D'Vine.Our food was tasty, traditional Italian. The staff couldn't have been more attentive and in all in the bill came to £69.65.

Get past the glitz and this place really shines.

D'Vine, 20-24, Swinegate, York YO1 8AZ T: 01904 633700 W:

Food: Fabulous 4/5

Ambience: Dazzling 3/5

Service: First class 5/5

Value: Good 4/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press