As our battered Taste London cards will testify, my flatmate and I have eaten our way across this fine city via its best and worst chain restaurants. So when Italian pizza and pasta chain Prezzo opened on our doorstep in Stanmore, being self-styled experts we felt it necessary to welcome it to the neighbourhood and put the newest kid on the high street block under the microscope.

Prezzo prides itself on serving quality and authentic dishes in a stylish setting and, in a nutshell, delivered on its promise. Like all the best Italian restaurants, there was a cheerful hum of chatter between groups of well-dressed friends and couples filled the air, with hardly an empty seat in the house despite it being packed with tables. A giant open grill where you can watch the chefs prepare pizza, calzone and its selection of freshly grilled dishes takes pride of place. Staff were warm, friendly and had good knowledge of the menu – a personal touch which impressed me.

A first glance of the menu quickly places Prezzo firmly in the 21st Century in terms of modern lifestyles with good choices for vegetarians and also a number of low-calorie and low-fat dishes and alcoholic drinks for diners watching their waistlines. It suggests Prezzo has realised its customers don't want an evening out to leave them racked with having to compromise on their ideals. As for my flatmate and I, who deny ourselves nothing, we chose three starters: oven-roasted rosemary salt chicken wings, crab cakes and house favourite baked mushrooms at roughly £4.85 per dish. The crab cakes were tangy and full of flavour, and the mushrooms, stuffed with grana padano cheese, garlic, onions, deserve special mention for being the tastiest things to walk out of a kitchen since domestic goddess Nigella Lawson.

Already stuffed, my companion and I moved on to mains. Flatmate chose Ciabatta Milanese, basically a breaded chicken filet with all the components – lettuce, tomatoes, ciabatta and garlic mayonaise - to make your own sandwich. Quite a boring choice considering the variety of the menu, but he seemed pleased with it. I, on the other hand, attempted to conquer a formidable bowl of Penne Con Salmone, oak-roasted salmon, broccoli and fresh chillies in a red pesto and cream sauce. I started thinking my thighs would have been thankful for one of the lighter half-pizza and salad options, but my palette was more than happy. The dish struck a good balance between the powerful flavour of the fish and the pesto. There was so much of it, however, I had to admit defeat at the half-way mark which seemed only right if I wanted to hit a home run and go for dessert.

Yes, reader, after sharing three starters, battling a mammoth pasta bowl, I ordered from the specials menu and got a Sicilian lemon cheesecake. Flatmate had the sticky toffee pudding served with hot butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream and were both as satisfying as the meal.

We left stuffed, happy, and impressed. In Prezzo, we found a happy resting place between the comfort and convenience you expect from a chain with big – very big - helpings of culinary fulfilment and a side order of contemporary cool. The cost of the meal amounted to £44.50 for two but without wine, from £13.50 a bottle or £3.75 a glass.