Here are the entrants in the Italian restaurants category
Italian Restaurants winner: Scalinis, Wedal Road, Roath, Cardiff
1 Wedal Road, Roath, Cardiff
Tel: 029 2048 1700
This is as close as you'll get to an authentic Italian meal without boarding an Alitalia flight to Rome.
The restaurant may be understated,
dotted with pictures of La Bella Figura from Audrey Hepburn to George Clooney, but the food will blow you away.
Our meal was perfetto - starting with delicious mussels farci (£7.50) grilled with garlic, onion, parsley and breadcrumbs and served with crusty toasted bread.
Just as attractive was the gamberi Efisio (£10.50) - five fat and juicy prawns in a silky garlic and white wine sauce.
And yes, the dishes come with a price tag you'd equate with the euro, but it reflects the quality and is worth every penny.
Service was top-notch, too - we were brought out a platter of fish and even pheasants prepped in pots to help us decide what to order.
Alongside pasta and meat, fish is a speciality, with a chalkboard full of that day's fresh offerings. And all cooked in a variety of ways.
Our Seabass (£19.50), cooked excellently, was grilled with a buttery sauce, and was by no means a skimpy portion.
The saltimbocca (£16.95) was a Roman god - tender escalopes of veal topped with Parma ham and sage melted in the mouth in a white wine sauce with a citrusy tang. Both were served with sauté potatoes, carrots and broccoli.
We finished with two lovely, homemade desserts (£4.95) - a light and sharp lemon cheesecake and a tiramisu, light and boozy - just as it should be.
And make sure you leave the car at home, as you'll want to try a shot or two of their homemade limoncello.
Celtic Springs Retail Parade, Lakeside Drive, Coedkernew
Tel: 01633 815815
In honesty, we didn't know what to expect when we stood outside Bacaro, which is sandwiched between Greggs and a hairdressers on an out-of-town retail park, but we discovered a real delight.
Inside was a busy and vibrant restaurant of stylish black banquettes and dark oak tables.
With twinkly fairylights, an open kitchen and a deli counter, there's a casual dining feel of the kind that Jamie Oliver would feel at home in.
Bacaro is one of a new breed, moving the traditional Italian restaurant into a new era, offering pizza, pasta plus and an a la carte from porchetta to squid, with very reasonable prices.
Along with its Italian produce - including an ice-cream selection to compete with any respectable gelateria - there's also local Welsh ales and meat. Every dish was stylishly presented - fancy plates and wine glasses! - starting with crunchy risotto balls (£6) that gave way to a soft and melting cheesy middle and a starter of meatballs (£6.25) in a delicious tomato sauce.
For our mains, Italian sausages (£12.50) were a poshed-up bangers with hearty chips. Fat and bursting with flavour, they came with a sauce of peppers, onion and tomato.
And the traditional ragu (£9.50) with tagliatelle was incredibly meaty - heavily loaded with tasty and tender, slow-cooked braised pork and beef.
The portions won't leave you feeling hungry, but their creative desserts shouldn't be missed.
The gelato tasting palette (£5), made up of five mini-cones of my choosing, gave me the chance to try unusual flavours like parmesan (nicer than you'd think) and melon and chilli (plenty of kick) alongside tried and tested flavours like fruits of the forest.
And the dessert anti-pasti (£6) was as fun as it was tasty: A platter of chocolate salami - cleverly concocted discs of rocky road, grissini dipped in white chocolate and orange semi-freddo with a jug of chocolate sauce.
24 Churchill Way, Cardiff
Tel: 02920 343 424
This is the classic Italian restaurant we all know and love.
The Venditto family are well-known in Cardiff for being behind some of the city's best-loved restaurants.
And their latest incarnation is in an ideal setting.
You walk out of a city street into a white-washed, rustic cave that has transported you, Tardis-style, to the Med.
The family has had plenty of practice at the romantic neighbourhood Italian, and on the menu you'll find favourites from pizza and pasta to steak and fish.
And, of course, the owner was there in the background entertaining in the way only Italians do.
A starter of bruschetta with smoked provolone (£5.95) was colourful and appetising, with a punch from the smoky cheese going well with the crispy, salty pancetta and earthy aubergine.
And a fresh-tasting salmon marinato (£7.95) was abundant, with a subtle kick from the herbs and chilli and a cutting lemon and chive mayonnaise.
Our mains were both feel-good food: Tagliatelle spezzatino (£13.95) was nicely al-dente, with chunks of tender fillet steak, cooked pink in a spot-on tomato and pepper sauce.
Tender chicken pollo Milanese (£16.95), coated with crisp breadcrumbs, was served with a tomato and basil spaghetti.
Everything was consistently good, but the homemade desserts were pretty spectacular - mango and lime cheesecake (£6) was tangy and light - just as well given the huge slab I was presented with. And there was plenty of flair in the presentation, as was the Jack Daniels and vanilla chocolate cake(£6), gooey and rich without being too heavy.
Excellent food with fresh flavours - this is no tired Italian.
Market St, Abergavenny
Tel: 01873 857777
Relaxed and friendly, this pizzeria may be tucked away in a side street of Abergavenny's town centre, but it's no secret to locals.
Housed in a converted barn that has been brightened up with some red and yellow paint, it has bags of character. But not more so than the family who run it, who bring plenty of personality to the service.
There's an open kitchen, so you can watch your food being prepared, with a big audience on the night we visited - including locals who queued at the door for their takeaway pizza.
The menu is succinct but it's not just pizza, as the name suggests, there's also a pasta menu and a special or two chalked on the board. That night it was slow-roasted pork, apple and red wine puree with rosemary sorbet.
And there's plenty of reasonably priced Italian wine, particularly good value by the carafe (£8.50).
We started with porchetta (£7.50) - thin slices of slow-roasted pork with swirls of stuffing pungent with sage, and paired well with a mustard-dressed salad and thin slices of crispy crackling.
And frittura (£8) was presented in paper, a nice mix of courgettes, squid, calamari and prawns, with a wedge of lemon, but it missed a dipping sauce.
A main of creamy risotto affumicato (£9.50) oozed with smoky scamora cheese but wasn't too overpowering, and was complemented by the sweetness of tomatoes and the aubergine.
It was good to see the Calabrese pizza (£9.50) was of Italian size (yes, large) and with a crisp and light base.
It was topped with the spreadable spicy Calabrian sausage 'nduja with mushrooms and a fried egg that had a nicely runny yolk.
From the list of homemade desserts we tried the tiramisú alle castagne (£ 5.50), a twist on the classic in that it was flavoured with chestnut and orange. It had a deliciously light texture with added nutty crunch.
And just as seasonal was the semifreddo al Frangelico (£6.50), which was served with salted caramel and caramelised hazelnuts that were salty and sweet.
A great family restaurant and good value too - with two main meals both under a tenner.
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