Offering fresh modern cuisine with an Italian twist, Prezzo boasts more than 180 restaurants across the UK – from Aberdeen in Scotland to Falmouth in Cornwall – and has 14 restaurants in London, each with its own individual interior design.

Founded in 2000, Prezzo delivers stylish casual dining, often set within listed buildings or sites of particular local interest and architectural value, such as the old library in Newbury, the Mills Bakery in Plymouth and listed buildings in Salisbury, Romsey, Mayfair and Dorchester.

Our favourite location is just slightly off the beaten track – and yet also desirably central – just a stone’s throw from London’s Trafalgar Square. Northumberland Avenue is one of those roads that you’re likely to have to look up in your London A to Z and yet it’s sufficiently famous to warrant its own square on the Monopoly board. (To save you wracking your brain, it’s one of the pink ones, with Whitehall and Pall Mall as neighbours). The good thing about this is that the area is less crowded and busy than you’d expect, yet is still close to the action. The décor is clean and contemporary in warm brown and chestnut tones, with sleek wooden floors and an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs’ pizza-making action.

Prezzo has two excellent-value children’s menus featuring three courses and a drink for £6.50 for 5–11 years, and a slightly scaled down version at £3.50 for smaller tummies up to 5 years.

Desserts are a decadent highlight at Prezzo, from the classic Tiramisu to the festive Panettone Bread And Butter Pudding and the more modern Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake

The children’s menu offers classic dishes like pizza and pasta offering a variety of toppings and sauces, alongside garlic bread, chicken salad and the all-important gelato – although there’s also Chocolate Profiteroles or Nutella and Banana Mini Calzone if your child is that rare breed who doesn’t want ice cream for dessert.

As we were visiting during the Christmas celebrations, we were given the option of selecting from Prezzo’s three set Christmas menus, which are designed to add a little extra sparkle too. Each set menu (£15.95, £19.95 and £24.95) comes with a starter, main and dessert. Impressively, each course offers at least two vegetarian options (albeit slightly heavy on the cheesy quota). Selecting from the Christmas menu, we opted for Crab Cake and Calamari starters – both served with garlic mayonnaise. The calamari were very much to 8-year-old Joe’s taste, and were especially good, lightly dusted in seasoned flour rather than deep-fried then sprinkled with zingy lemon.

True to form, Joe chose a simple Margarita pizza as his main, which arrived like a giant wagon wheel doused in rich red tomatoes and cheese. I tried a rather unseasonal Steak And Rocket Salad, with cherry tomatoes, red onion, black olives and grana padano cheese. Other options include Wild Boar Tortelli, Roasted Duck Leg, Wild Mushroom Girasole and Goat’s Cheese Al Forno.

The Chocolate Orange Cheesecake was rich and dark – as this classic combination should be – while the quenelle of mascarpone added a sharp creamy sensation. Joe was disappointed there was no sorbet (his default mode of dessert) but instead settled for vanilla ice cream, served in a clever tilted sundae glass that made scooping it out a dream for younger diners.

Why go Prezzo has won many awards for its quality, great-value-for-money food, including ‘Best Casual Dining Chain’ in the MIDAS Awards in 2011, Best Pizza Group by the BBC’s Olive magazine in 2009 and Italian Restaurant Chain of the year in the PAPA (Pizza and Pasta Association) awards in 2009.

Best for Lovers of classic Italian food with a modern twist.

Our Favourite Bit No-nonsense frills and a genuinely family-friendly welcome.

Top Tip Ask to be seated in the crescent-shaped banquettes if you can. They’re spacious and comfortable for family dining, plus – with an adult at either end – they’re a cunning way to keep young children contained.

Don’t Go If you want to spend a long, leisurely lunch. Service is swift though not harried, as most visitors are stopping off for sustenance before moving off to other spectacles in the area.

While You’re Here If you’re stopping here in summer, head over to Somerset House for some water play (for toddlers to primary school ages). In winter, wander down Northumberland Avenue towards the River Thames. Hop over the river via the pedestrian Hungerford Bridge to admire the London skyline, then enjoy a stroll along the South Bank, where the Winter Festival with festive markets and activities is currently running until January 10, 2014. And this is also a great stop off either before or after watching Changing The Guard. just over Trafalgar Square and down The Mall.