TUCKED away off Swinegate is Lucia, an Italian café, wine bar and restaurant.

The front of the business boasts a smart café with a long display case full of tempting Italian pastries and shelves of foodie gifts, which leads to a cosy restaurant, a courtyard area and a sparkly bar upstairs.

The bar vibe hits you as you walk in because there is dance music playing through speakers in the courtyard. This was a bit off-putting because we had popped in for an early dinner one Sunday. But as soon as we reached our table inside at the back of the restaurant, the atmosphere was more relaxed.

It is clearly a popular spot – even early in the evening we were surrounded by full tables, including family groups with young children, students, tourists and couples of all ages.

The staff are friendly, our waiter checked on us a couple of times and there was no waiting around to put in our order.

There were four of us so we ordered a mix of starters from the ‘petit Lucia’s’ menu to share.

There was enough choice to keep everyone happy, from marinated lamb skewers with Mediterranean rice to hummus with flatbread or grilled goat’s cheese with beetroot and salad.

We plumped for sliced chorizo with chilli chickpeas, smoked mozzarella risotto balls and chicken pâté with bread, all at £5.50 each.

The mozzarella and risotto balls were good (it would be difficult to get fried cheese and rice wrong) and the pâté disappeared quickly, while the chorizo with chilli chickpeas were a bit too spicy and immediately gave my friend’s husband a fit of hiccups.

The portions were generous enough that you could order a handful of dishes from the ‘petit Lucia’s’ menu to share for your main meal, or would be ideal for a light lunch.

For the main courses we went for two pizzas – one with Parma ham and rocket (£10.75), and another topped with artichokes and mushrooms (£11.50). These both had thin, crisp bases rather than something heavy and doughy, so it was no problem at all to polish off an entire pizza without feeling stuffed. Friends gave them the thumbs up, saying there was plenty of toppings and adding “the pizzas are definitely a winner”.

We also had two salads – one with grilled halloumi, peppers, beetroot and fresh orange segments (£9.50) and another salad with smoked salmon and crayfish, sweet potato and kale (a lot of kale) at £11.95.

The halloumi salad did not skimp on the cheese and with the fresh orange slices and grilled courgette it was light enough for a warm day but didn’t feel like a diet dish.

The salmon salad was not as popular, which was surprising as it was the most expensive thing we ordered – friends said there were too many leaves and the crayfish was whizzed into the dressing rather than as an extra ingredient in the mix.

We were also tempted by the gnocchi with asparagus, the risotto with crayfish and chorizo and the ravioli with goat’s cheese and figs, but given the warm weather, Lucia is a perfect place to stop for pizza, salad and ice cream.

There is plenty to keep dessert fans happy here too, with gelato flavours including pistachio, milk chocolate and stracciatella as well an orange sorbet, which sounds refreshing on a 24C day in the city. And I was intrigued by the tipsy gelatos – three scoops of ice cream with a liqueur of your choice for £5.75.

The cocktail menu is impressive, with classic mojitos and daiquiris as well as some delicious looking inventions - and at £5.95, they were reasonably priced.

To finish, we asked to try some of the Italian biscuits and pastries from the café – cannoli filled with lemon, pistachio or chocolate ricotta. They were satisfyingly crisp and light, and a bit of a steal at 95p each. I will be going back for them again. Our bill came to just over £63 for the four of us.

Lucia is the perfect place to take friends and family. The atmosphere is relaxed, thanks in part to the staff who we found to be smiley and attentive. And there will be a dish to suit everyone – the menu includes vegan options, gluten-free dishes and child-friendly choices.

Lucia Wine Bar and Grill, 13 Swinegate Court East, York

T: 01904 731599

W: luciawinebar.co.uk

Food: Something for everyone 4/5

Service: Friendly 4/5

Ambience: Music too clubby 3/5

Value: Good 4/5

Reviews are independent and paid for by The Press