I decided to revisit a restaurant that had caused me great disappointment when I first dropped by in June of last year – Zizzi, in Lincoln.
As before, first impressions were good with bright decor and a friendly member of staff greeting myself and fellow eating partner Sam.
As we had decided to go straight after work there were only a few diners, so we were asked where we would like to sit which was a nice touch.
We chose a comfortable booth near the kitchen area so we could see a bit of the action.
As before the menu gave us plenty of choice and although some of the dishes are a bit more expensive than similar Italian chains we had discovered a voucher which allowed us to choose three courses for £13.95. And the best bit was all choices were included, apart from the Secondi which are the meat dishes such as lamb shoulder and pork belly.
Our waitress was extremely attentive offering advice on certain dishes and leaving us for just the right amount of time before coming back for our drinks and food order.
We went for a bottle of Zinfandel rose wine, which at £18.15 was very expensive, but I guess that's how chains like this make their money with such good voucher deals.
After much deliberation we ordered our food.
Sam went for garlic bread topped with cheese – a pizza bread base with mozzarella and onions caramelised in balsamic vinegar.
It arrived on a wooden block, cut into handy portions providing more than enough for two people.
The caramelised onions were a tasty addition to a classic favourite.
I went for bruschetta formaggio di capra which consisted of goats' cheese, roasted peppers and basil on top of ciabatta bread, all drizzled with sticky balsamic onion.
This portion was more reasonable – it was delicious with the creamy cheese complementing the sweetness of the peppers and onion.
Whereas before I complained about a lengthy wait between courses, this time the waitress was spot on with her judgement of when we would be ready for the main event.
Sam chose the Penne della Casa from the Al Forno selection. It consisted of chicken, penne pasta, smoked pancetta and baby spinach in a creamy mushroom sauce.
A full dish of steaming, creamy pasta arrived with a good quantity of chicken and pancetta.
It did exactly what it said on the tin and Sam soaked up every last morsel of sauce with the remaining garlic bread from the starter.
I went for the Zucca e Pancetta which really was a lovely, silky risotto with butternut squash, spinach, cheese and pancetta. A generous dollop of mascarpone topped the dish.
It really was a fantastically tasty risotto, with generous hunks of pancetta and pieces of squash.
Despite feeling fit to burst, we decided it would be rude not to take full advantage of the three-course offer so after much deliberation, we made our choices.
Sam opted for an ambitious Chocolate Melt. It more than matched its description of a rich, chocolate-y, gooey dessert.
Similar to a chocolate fondant it was deeply, deeply rich with what must be an extremely high cocoa content – perfect for chocoholics.
Alongside came a scoop of your choice of gelato, which in this case was crema – a perfect accompaniment although I must say the richness did beat us.
I went for the three scoops of gelato choosing crema, chocolate and Fior di Latte which is basically pure milk ice cream. This flavour was a real delight, it was creamy, light and a lovely way to finish off a fairly heavy meal.
Zizzi could not have changed more since my last visit. Gone is the awkward edge of a newly opened restaurant and instead it has an inviting, buzzing atmosphere with attentive, friendly staff for who nothing seemed to be too much trouble.
By the time we came to leave it was just after 8pm and the place was almost full, which for a Wednesday can only be a good thing.
The only reason I have not given it a top rating is because of the ridiculously expensive wine.
However, I will definitely be returning and would now rate Zizzi above similar Italian chains.
THE FOOD: Two three-course meals at £13.95 each (from vouchercodes.co.uk offer expires May 13, conditions apply). Bottle of Zinfandel rose wine £18.15.
FINAL VERDICT: Tasty, generous portions and somewhere I would return even without the lure or a voucher.