With food like this, Vesuvio will not be a secret for long...

Since opening three months ago, Vesuvio Trattoria has built a reputation for serving traditional Italian food in a relaxed and friendly environment.

That news of this quaint café/restaurant, located in High Street, Worthing, has spread so fast, by word of mouth alone, tells you all you need to know about the quality of the food on offer, it’s great.

Visiting for the first time, I was immediately struck by the intimacy of the restaurant and the rustic décor – exposed brickwork, wooden furniture and oil paintings – making you feel as if you are in an Italian villa. Vesuvio’s menu is on the small side but everything on it is homemade, including the pasta, and there are dishes you won’t find anywhere else in Worthing. It is worth mentioning the restaurant does not serve alcohol and has limited soft drinks available, so visitors are encouraged to bring their own. To start, restaurant owner and chef, Vincent, made us a selection of dishes. The bruschetta (£4), an Italian staple, was simple, yet full of powerful flavours. The olive oil, garlic and basil worked well as expected and did not overpower, and the cherry tomatoes really were exquisite. Vitello tonnato (stewed veal with sage, tuna sauce, capers and lime – £7) was a dish unlike anything I have had before. The tuna sauce had an acidic, tangy bite which complemented the richness of the veal perfectly; who would have thought a fish sauce with a dark meat would have worked so well?

Parmigiana de melanzane (aubergine stuffed with tomatoes, basil and parmesan – £5) was my partner Nat’s favourite starter. The aubergine was thinly sliced and grilled with a generous filling. Every mouthful was one to be savoured.

For our mains, we chose penne rosa (Parma ham, cream, parmesan cheese, onion and a touch of tomato sauce – £6) pheasant ravioli (£8) and scaloppini di vitello alla pizzaiola (veal escalopes with a cherry tomato sauce and a thyme and oregano baby potato side dish – £9).

The penne dish was the richest of the three and possibly one of the tastiest creamy pasta dishes either of us had ever tasted.

It was the first time I had tried pheasant ravioli and I hope it’s not the last. The pheasant was moist and the ravioli held its shape well.

The veal was cooked similarly to the starter. However, this time, the sauce was more traditional for a dark meat, tomato-based and rich.

The potatoes were the perfect accompaniment and the herbs brought the dish to life.

The true test of any good Italian restaurant is in its traditional desserts and it was with this in mind that we selected tiramisu (£2.50) and panna cotta with strawberries (£4). The coffee-soaked sponge of the tiramisu was heavenly and the creamy centre of the panna cotta was equally good.

Vesuvio may well be the best- kept secret in Worthing, but on this evidence, it won’t be that way for much longer.