Acting on a recommendation from friend and colleague E, who currently lives in Finsbury Park, D and I decided to check out her new-ish (it’s been open a year) neighbourhood Italian, Osteria Tufo. ‘You’ll love it,’ said E. ‘The food’s amazing and the staff make you feel so at home.’ Sold. A three minute walk from FP tube, it could just about be categorised as a neighbourhood joint for both D – who’s one stop away at Highbury and Islington – and me, who’s 10 minutes away by 210 bus.

Having tried some of my rather basic Italian during the email booking process, I was warmly greeted by owner Paola, who sat us on a table for four, even though at 8.45 it was still pretty packed, with loads of tables who were very happy to linger. And why wouldn’t they? The atmosphere is as welcoming as E promised, and the decor is simple – dark grey walls, wooden tables, white tablecloths – but cosy.

The menu is fairly short but full of delicious-sounding things – such as grilled octopus, crab pasta, and sea bass – so we decided to share two starters and two mains. From the very good and reasonably priced wine list, we went with the red that was Paola’s own recommendation: one I’d never heard of, an Aglianico, for ¬£21. It’s from her own region, around Naples, and one of her favourites – ‘why would I include wines I don’t know and I’ve never tried?’ says Paola. It was very good indeed; dark and intense but not too heavy.

So, onto the food. To start, we had a dish of cockles cooked with in a sauce of white beans¬† with chickpeas, served with grilled sourdough bread brushed with olive oil – even D, who’s normally a bit suspicious of seafood, couldn’t get enough, and kept stealing the plate away from me. It was earthy and rich, and we mopped it all up with the bread. The other dish was, to me, amazing; four massive, juicy scallops, their coral still attached, served in a kind of moussy, potatoey, veloute which had been liberally laced with truffle oil. We had to call for extra sourdough to soak all that up.

Mains were equally full of flavour; the home made tagliatelle with tomato and sausagemeat was covered in parmesan and had a moreish, al dente quality (I refuse to use the word ‘silky’, so just deal with it), while the grilled octopus, which the staff inform you will be served at room temperature, was cooked in a stew of tomato and green beans and was just chewy enough. It was all good, home style cooking, incredibly tasty and made with care. We loved it.

I wish I could have tried the desserts but we were very, very full by then. I know it’s not strictly in my neighbourhood, but I feel I will be returning before too long…

Atmosphere: 9/10 – the locals clearly love it

Food: 9/10 – just good, honest, delicious Italian food

Value for money: 8/10 – a little higher priced than a chain, but then it’s much better and more original