FOOD REVIEW: Mamma Mia, Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis

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There’s always something exciting about trying a new restaurant for the first time.

The expectation, the new surroundings, the new menu, the new experience – it’s fun.

But there’s also something warm and welcoming about going back to a restaurant you have been to before – and looking forward to a dining experience you have enjoyed already.

My daughter and I ate at Mamma Mia last year, and enjoyed the meal so much we always said we’d have to go back.

This week, we did. And it wasn’t the same experience as before – it was even better.

The welcome from proprietor Max Miricola, pictured, inset, was warm and genuine.

Max, from Puglia in southern Italy, promises authentic Italian food and wine in a relaxed, informal setting at reasonable prices.

And he delivers. My daughter started the evening with fungo ripieno, a baked portobello mushroom topped with sun-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese (£4.20).

I plumped for bruschetta, a home-made ciabatta bread topped with cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions and pesto sauce (£4.25).

Both were perfect starters to the evening.

With the Italian background music, it was, as promised, very relaxing, and with the kitchen in view of the dining area, delicious aromas were wafting over.

I was soon tucking into the pollo e prosciutto, a pizza with a chicken, ham and mozzarella topping with a light tomato sauce on top (£8.15).

The pizzas served up are enormous – the plates are very large, and every inch is taken up with the food.

The pizzas are delicious – a tasty base with such generous toppings, it’s a battle to eat the lot. A battle because it’s so tasty you don’t want to leave any – but knowing that finishing the lot will leave you very, very full!

My daughter chose pasta and tucked into farfalle con panna e salmone – cream and a smoked salmon sauce with vodka (£8.70).

It was moist and full of flavour – and, again, a very generous portion made it excellent value for money.

Neither of us really had room for dessert – but when you pop out for a meal, you have to spoil yourself, don’t you?

So we had the home-made lemon cheesecake and cream (£4.10) – we remembered this from our last visit, and how much we enjoyed it.

We weren’t disappointed. It was every bit as good as the last time – the amaretti biscuit base has to be sampled to be believed.

Yes, there’s something very good about a return visit to Mamma Mia.

It was good the first time – and very good the second time. So now only one question remains – how good will it be the third time? Because, never fear, there will be a third time. And a fourth, and a fifth...