LOVE is in the air as we arrive at The Half Moon in Cuxham.

Tom and I awkwardly crunch past a couple who are locked in embrace in the gravel car park, embarrassed at having interrupted their smooching.

Perhaps the passion of the country that influences the menu has caught on – for this thatched pub, though quintessentially English in appearance, serves only Italian cuisine.

It pitches itself as a pub-come-pizzeria, evident as we walk through the door when our nostrils pick up the warming scent of freshly-baked dough.

The bar area is much like any other village watering hole: lined with locals and taps boasting several lagers and ales.

Decor is cosy but understated; the floor a chessboard of terracotta and charcoal tiles and the scratched furniture not dissimilar to that you might find in a work canteen.

The welcome we receive is much more warming than the wooden chair I am sat on, however.

A beaming woman speaks in what sounds like an Italian accent, offering us drinks and a menu.

We order garlic flatbread with cheese and ham to start (£4.95) and overload on carbs with pizzas for our main course.

After a few sips of my white wine the starter arrives, steaming from the oven.

The ham is smoky and salty against the stringy mozzarella, the flavoursome bread clearly homemade and an encouraging indication of what we can expect from our mains.

Tom is a little disappointed when the pizzas arrive – we choose to stick to regular rather than upgrade to their larger, crisper counterparts but their size belies how filling they turn out to be.

My 'cynara' pizza (£9.15) is topped with delicious chunks of artichoke alongside mushroom, ham and olives and takes me back to Italian tavernas I ate at during a glorious Tuscan holiday some years ago.

We decide it must be up there in the top ten pizzas we have ever eaten, though it might not quite make the top five.

A sweet slice of banoffee pie follows (£4.45): a delightful combination of caramelised bananas and cream that is so often absent on more traditional pub menus.

The atmosphere was buzzing even on a Monday night, and I would certainly return if I fancied a change from the usual pies and other 'pub grub'.