RESTAURANTS are finally open again and on Sunday I happily headed out to brave the brisk spring air and indulge in a meal somewhere besides my own dining room table.

I’ve been to the Il Vello D'Oro at the Golden Fleece once before and sat inside the rustic and beautifully turned-out pub interior. It was bustling that night and full of atmosphere, but I had no recollection at all about its outdoor space, so I was keen to see what they had to offer.

I didn’t fancy my chances booking a table a couple of days before, so I was pleased when the Italian restaurant gave me my pick of times.

They are currently serving their Sunday lunch menu from 12-4pm and their full menu from 4-8pm in their large beer garden. I opted for 5pm in the hope of late sunshine keeping off the worst of the chill.

Walking into the Il Vello D'Oro it was clear that I needn’t have worried about booking – it was surprisingly quiet. I suspect it won’t be the only place where some customers stay away, assuming it must be really busy.

Located in Shaw, just out of Melksham on the road to Bath, it could also miss out on some walk-in customers that town centre locations can attract.

But you could hardly call it a well-kept secret, with its TripAdvisor reviews marking it one of the top-rated restaurants in Melksham.

Il Vello D'Oro is owned by business partners Ardi and Mali who are both talented chefs with over 15 years; experience in the restaurant trade. They have worked in Bottelino's and Gino's in Bristol, and Farrell's in Keynsham.

Sitting in the pub garden is pleasant – it catches the sun well which really helps while the weather is still reasonably cool, and you can’t hear any road noise which I feared.

Unlike its indoor space, it doesn’t have much character but within the context of indoor-focused venues being forced outside, that’s entirely fair. And really it was such a joy just to be eating out somewhere.

The prices are reasonable with vast portions of pasta or large pizzas coming in at around the £12 mark and the non-Sundays lunchtime menu offers any pizza or pasta for just £7.95.

In hindsight, I wish I had opted for that – I know you can’t go wrong with a proper Italian pizza.

Despite taking my sweet time to choose from the extensive menu (the friendly waiter had to ask three times) I think I made some poor ordering choices.

The mild flavour of my minestrone soup didn’t excite me, but I enjoyed stealing some of my husband’s polpette - essentially meatballs in a lovely spicy tomato soup.

I had chicken breast topped with parma ham and mozzarella cheese in a tomato sauce for my main which I thought was pleasant enough – the chargrilled vegetables were particularly moreish.

My husband had salmon linguine which I found too heavy – but he happily demolished the entire huge portion.

Finally, I indulged in a banoffee pie made with ice-cream which was ever so beautifully presented – but I probably would still have enjoyed it more as the usual non-frozen variety.

Alongside our meal I sipped a glass of Buffalo Ridge Zinfandel Rose followed by a Boscorsd pink gin with Fever-Tree tonic and assorted berries, both of which were delightfully fresh and looked the part in the sunny garden.

My husband opted for the house red Montepulciano D'Abruzzo which was a satisfying full-bodied choice.

All in all, I found this a hard review to approach because although I had a perfectly pleasant meal, the items I chose didn’t blow me away.

However, I would still honestly say I would go again. Overall, considering the atmosphere, service, price and my previous experience, I would be inclined to go back and choose the most popular menu items. And I look forward to cosying up inside when that is finally allowed.