I BRING you good news from Northallerton High Street. When the time comes, you will have two new restaurants to sample.

Caio Bella Cucina opened back in October in The Fleece – Northallerton’s oldest pub. Before that it had been closed as a pub for many months, the previous tenant having ducked out earlier in this benighted year – or perhaps it was even before that. Like many of us I suspect, time is beginning to lose its usual reference points.

Anyway it’s a restaurant offering within a pub – and that counts as a new restaurant to me.

Then just before Christmas in what was Pizza Express – another casualty of the pandemic – Bianco Ristorante opened its doors.

Yes, that’s two Italians to add to Uno Momento in Friarage Street and you might well think it would have been nice to have some variety but frankly, in Northallerton, beggars can’t be choosers.

Bianco is a sister establishment to the Bianco which opened in Thirsk last year.

It’s a shame we lost our branch of Pizza Express. Yes, it was industrialised hospitality but as mega chains go it is mostly reliable and its basic dough recipe makes the best pizzas, dough balls and garlic bread.

Anyway it’s part of Northallerton’s not very illustrious restaurant history now but Bianco has taken its place and while Caio Bella Cucina is not offering a takeaway service during this period of restrictions, Bianco is and we gave it a whirl last Saturday.

The operation is on a serious footing. You can order and pay in advance, get a delivery or pick a collection slot.

It was really busy with lots of people there to collect their pre-ordered meals but rest assured it was all appropriately distanced. The dining area has been mostly cleared of its tables and chairs to enable customers to safely wait inside, a comfortable refuge from the Beast from the East just gathering its strength outside.

Those tables and chairs looked familiar because they are the ones from its Pizza Express days. But there’s a new reception and bar area just inside the front door and the open kitchen to the rear has been revamped with the removal of the old pizza ovens and the installation of a more conventional kitchen.

Five guys were working there feverishly to prepare the orders for collection and delivery and ours was handed over just a couple of minutes after our allotted time. A different form of industrialised food service but nonetheless very effective.

I hot-footed it out of the door and thanks to the Low Gates crossing gates not being down I was through the door at home within seven minutes.

Everything was well packaged in insulated containers and still hot so no need for re-heating in the oven. So far so good.

We shared some garlic king prawns (£7.95) – four specimens well worthy of the regal moniker and swimming in a bowl of lemony, garlicky butter. There were also a couple of slices of ciabatta which it wasn’t clear which course they were meant to accompany but they were ideal to mop up the fragrant, pungent juices.

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

Sylvia’s plain char-grilled chicken breast (£11.95) was as perfect as a piece of unadorned chicken can be, nicely moist, charred just enough to boost the flavour without drying it out. It came with the chunkiest of the chips (probably wedges would be a better description) – too many for Sylvia – and a mixed salad dressed with a really good tangy-sweet vinaigrette.

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

My risotto ai fruiti di mare (seafood) – £10.95 – may not have been lovingly and gently stirred over a wood-burning stove by a venerable nonna from Emilio Romagna but it was a pretty good attempt.

The creaminess that you’d get with a home-made risotto was missing but the rice still had a bit of bite and the stock which had flavoured it was good. Most importantly, there was a decent selection of seafood with chunks of salmon and a white fish which might have been cod or haddock and lots of mussels, albeit small ones, and a king prawn as a sort of crowning glory.

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

Eating out at Bianco, Northallerton

It was a hefty pile of risotto too, so it was a while before I got round to tackling a crème brulee cheesecake (£3.95). It didn’t look terribly impressive but the eating was a pleasant surprise. A great biscuit base with the right amount of crunch and a topping which had that classic burnt cream egg custard and caramelised sugar flavour.

The bill was £31.72 which included a ten per cent “collection discount” and rather more mysterious but in the grand scheme of things inconsequential service charge of 40p.

Bianco Ristorante

141 High Street, Northallerton, DL7 8PE

Tel: 01609765316 Web: biancoristorantenorthallerton.co.uk

Open for collection and delivery: Mon-Sat 4-8.30pm, Sun noon-7.30pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9 Social distancing 9 Efficiency 10 Value 8