Italian restaurants have suffered hard times recently, with several well-known chains reporting difficulties amid the casual dining crunch.

So walking past Fratello’s Italian restaurant on Victoria Road, I was struck by the warm glow from the lights and gentle hum of chatter spilling on to the street.

It certainly seemed to be thriving, and I was curious to find out what this place was doing right that others weren’t?

My husband and I were seated downstairs where the atmosphere was relaxed and peaceful, with yellow walls and exposed stonework. Everything was clean and smart without being overly formal. Tasty smells wafted from the open kitchen and staff were friendly and polite.

For a Friday night, the place was not packed, but there were pockets of diners, including couples, families and groups of friends. Though not buzzing, this created the perfect environment for enjoying a quiet dinner at the end of a long week.

Shortly after being seated we were presented with a dish of olives covered in chilli flakes. I’d never heard of eating olives like this before, and they certainly packed a punch if you are sensitive to spice. But I thought it worked really well.

We started with the bruschetta caprina to share, described as ‘homemade oak-fired toasted bread topped with goats' cheese and sun-dried tomatoes on a bed of rocket salad’. What arrived was extremely tasty, with a generous helping of goats cheese and sweet sun dried tomatoes.

The service was prompt but never intrusive with the friendly waiter popping by to refill our glasses. The added 'prego’ as he left lent an authenticity to the place.

With Italian accordion music (admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea) playing softly, it certainly felt nearer the Mediterranean than to the rainy streets of Swindon outside.

I then ordered the petto di pollo (chicken) with alla panna sauce (white wine, mushrooms, onions and cream sauce). What arrived was two huge chicken breasts heaped under a mount of mushrooms. It was served with wedges and a selection of vegetables. I was certainly excited by the prospect before me!

And it didn’t disappoint. The chicken was succulent, and the blend of flavours in the sauce made it a dish I would order again.

My husband chose a salmon e spinaci pizza - tomato, mozzarella cheese, sautéed baby leaf spinach and smoked salmon.

The generous 14-inch-across pizza that came to our table provoked the response “challenge accepted”. The base was lovely and thin and covered in tasty fresh toppings.

We heard the table behind us say to their waiter: “Send my thanks to the chef as I’ve never had a pizza that good before”. A ringing endorsement indeed, and certainly chimed with our own experiences.

Both feeling on the full side, but keen to continue enjoying ourselves, we opted for a dessert to share.

This was described on the menu as a selection of mixed Italian fruit sorbets. However, we were only offered one flavour, mango. But as mango is my favourite flavour, I really didn’t mind too much. It was beautifully presented and slipped down effortlessly.

There was almost too much food for two hearty dinners who are used to enjoying large meals. Though I probably just ordered too much through greed.

For several courses Fratello’s will certainly set you back a bit. But if you are looking for some of the best pizza in Swindon, you can’t go far wrong. Priced between roughly £11 and £15, these won’t break the bank or disappoint.