Bella Napoli's surroundings do not immediately give the impression of an authentic Italian experience, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

The restaurant sits on Broad Street, a fairly unremarkable section of Abingdon between Stratton Way and the town centre.

But it must be doing something right, as it has now been ensconced in the town for several years.

Arriving at about 7pm on a Friday, the restaurant was already busy and continued to fill up throughout the evening, which is always a good sign.

The interior is unusual but authentic enough, with two sets of tables divided by an archway and the kitchen located in a room resembling a hut.

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We sat down opposite the kitchen, which was not too disruptive.

Just three waitresses appeared to be working on the night, which seemed a little thin, and is perhaps why they were not the most organised team.

Although perfectly pleasant, two staff occasionally came over at different times to ask the same question, while the bill took a while to arrive at the end of the evening.

As ever, the food was the most important thing and we hungrily scanned the menu.

We were impressed with the variety, with around a dozen starters and plenty of pizza and pasta options, plus meat and fish dishes.

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A useful way to gauge the quality of an Italian restaurant is to try the Bruschetta, which we shared to start.

The warm ciabatta, topped with fresh and sun-dried tomato, red onions, basil and buffalo mozzarella (£4.95), was slightly burnt, which let down an otherwise tasty dish, bursting with flavour.

With so many main courses, I struggled to decide what to eat next.

In the end, we both went for pizza, although the intriguing 'pizza sauce' did not taste too different to the standard tomato sauce.

I ordered the Bella Napoli pizza, topped with mozzarella, pizza sauce, parma ham, mushrooms, cherry and sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and spinach (£10.95).

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The lack of grease and decent base size were welcome, while the generous mix of toppings helped rather than hindered the product.

However, we both agreed the dry crusts made the meal seem more filling than it was.

Georgia went for the Carne, topped with mozzarella, pizza sauce, Italian salami selection, pancetta and red onions (£11.70).

This stopped just the right side of having too much meat and was a little fiery, but would not take your head off.

While unspectacular, Bella Napoli is a solid bet and the varied menu may be worth a second visit.