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Buon Deli, Glossop Road, Broomhill

I'VE never quite kept pace with Vincenzo Giove of Broomhill.

He's the man who took over a deli, added a coffee bar, expanded it into a cafe, switched things back to front, turned it into a restaurant and, as you read this (but things can always change) relegated the deli to an afterthought at the back of the shop.

But if you want classy oils, balsamics and pasta it's here.

And I've kept missing head chef Lee Stocks. He's either just left or not started when I've made visits to a series of fine local eateries he's worked at, including BoHo, Lion's Lair, Marco@Milano and the Cricket Inn.

So it was a bit of an achievement to catch them both at Buon Deli on Glossop Road, where Lee has been head chef since January.

Vincenzo, Vinnie to his pals, comes from a long-established Italian restaurant family. That's his brother Marco at Milano.

He took over the old Beau Deli back in 2002 and has been fiddling about with it ever since. Tables are now front and back. Front is best with the mirrored walls, left over from deli days, which make the place look bigger and also serve as specials boards.

Tables are glass tops over tablecloths and the chairs are designer Italian, although they start to numb your bum after a couple of hours.

And they're playing my tune as I walk in. The very first 45 RPM record I ever bought, Move Over Darling by Doris Day. A good omen.

Vinnie used to do the cooking until January but his forte is front of house and he leaves Lee to get on with things, which he does very well.

Buon Deli offers an upmarket Italian menu so you've got dishes like mussels with spaghetti, lasagne, posh pizzas (try salmon, mascarpone and asparagus) and gnocchis and a lot which you realise have been borrowed to become mainstays of what we now call Modern British Cooking.

These days you don't have to be an Italian restaurant to serve Tuscan bean soup or lobster ravioli, baked seabass with red peppers or lamb shank with rosemary and cannellini beans.

Vinnie's gone all out to make the restaurant as tempting as possible. It's BYO although you can buy a bottle from the range of wines to be seen on his deli shelves and midweek sees a 12.90 two-course (15.90 for three) menu in operation.

If that doesn't suit you can go for spuntini – the Italian version of tapas – for 6.50 a selection plate.

But we were drawn to the carte and the mirror. I'm a sucker for that old favourite a warm salad of chicken livers (6.40) and, simple though it is, I've probably never had it better.

The livers had maximum flavour, were served still pinkish inside, benefited from their splash of brandy and their softness contrasted with the pancetta and pine nuts.

If that was good, my wife's baked cannelloni filled with spinach and ricotta was getting on spectacular. The pasta jacket was cooked so it almost melted in your mouth, the filling was delicate and the whole bathed in a rich tomato sauce.

I like the way Italian restaurants have with pork belly. They call it porchetta.

Buon Deli doesn't, on the menu it's 'slow roast pork and crackling served with garlic mash and spicy lentils' and it's 14.50. This is top whack for belly pork but here it's worth paying for. I get a big hunk with superb crackling. Not the sort which breaks your teeth but still crisp though yielding, honeycombed fatness. Beneath, the meat is so tender it shreds under the knife. The mash is soft and gratifyingly garlicky, the lentils have bite and an earthy taste and the whole dish is moistened by more of that tomato sauce.

We're splashing out a bit tonight because my wife wants another special, the roast cod on crushed potatoes with salsa verde and it's 15.50.

Salsa verde is Italian green sauce which can enliven any old dull fish although you couldn't accuse the cod of being that. It sparkled with flavour.

Lee also makes his own desserts, instead of getting them in from suppliers from Italy. They put a final stamp on a fine meal. Almond and ricotta cake, served warm with a drizzle of lemon syrup, and a tiramisu cheesecake with a great hit of espresso, oozed class and elegance (4.90 each).

The last time I was so delighted with an Italian meal was at Sasso, the award-winning Harrogate restaurant.

The bill, with excellent espressos, came to 56.20.

Food Review

Buon Deli, 477 Glossop Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, S10 2QE.

Telephone: 0114 266 2235.

Open Tues-Sat 11am-9.30pm (last orders). BYO (corkage 1) or house 7.70. Credit cards. Refined music. Disabled access and toilet. Street parking.

My star ratings (out of five):

Food HHHHH

Atmosphere HHHH

Service HHHH

Value HHHHH

Italian restaurant. Do not compare ratings between places of different style or price.

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