CREATING a dining-out environment by ‘re-cycling’ an interesting but previously underused space from the ground floor of the Andover Guildhall into the Villagio restaurant has both its upsides and downsides.

The upside is that Andover has gained an attractive, light and airy dining out space in a town which, to be frank, is not the first destination one thinks of when dining out.

The downsides are that this transformation of a public asset by the borough council did not meet with universal approval from all of Andover’s inhabitants, though to judge by a recent June Friday evening the restaurant is not suffering from any resident boycott.

But, when busy, the combination of a full house, the bright and airy space and hard surfaces everywhere, resulted in noise levels which were quite intolerable. Certainly during such a busy service, Villagio is not the place to strike that important business deal or succumb to that romantic tryst.

Fitting of carpeting, curtains and tablecloths would quieten the aural environment.

Although our bottles of Prosecco and Pellegrino water were smartly executed, it took an age to deliver anti-pasto freddo (a sharing board of charcuterie, olives and bread) and another bread board, together with a ‘forgotten’ soft drinks order. However, in fairness, the staff were friendly and apologetic.

I did very much enjoy my main course of pollo risotto, which ticked the right boxes in terms of flavour and cooking judgment.Aniggle I had, given the firmish pricing, was the provision of very thin and small paper napkins. In an Italian restaurant, given the high amount of saucing and pasta ‘flicks’, a higher quality larger disposable napkin (or even a linen one?) should be the order of the day.

I enjoyed a dessert of espresso affagotto (two scoops of vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot espresso) and we were offered ‘on the house’ grappa or a liqueur with our coffees, a pleasant touch.

Villagio is a useful address in Andover offering a wide range of starters, pasta dishes, pizzas, grills and salads, with a three course meal at under £30 a head plus drinks, but probably best saved for a quieter, mid-week dinner.