You can’t beat an Italian restaurant for a pre-theatre meal and so when we were invited to try Max’s Brasserie in Southampton, we were intrigued to see if it could take on the task of serving us tasty, traditional food served quickly and in a relaxed and intimate setting.

I’ll cut to the chase...the answer is yes! It can. Founded in 2014 by owner Max Romano, the emphasis here is fresh, seasonal Italian and Sicilian dishes enjoyed in a warm, homely setting. Formerly based on Oxford Street, Max’s moved to 9 Commercial Road, opposite the Mayflower Theatre, earlier this year to expand on his offering.

Great British Life: Max's Brasserie has a cosy and intimate atmosphereMax's Brasserie has a cosy and intimate atmosphere (Image: Elizabeth Kirby)

With a terrace ripe for enjoying pizza in the sunshine, as well as a conservatory area which Max hopes to use for private dining, the restaurant’s cosy banquette seating in green leather is made for date nights and relaxed dining with friends. Combined with dark wood tables and gold accents, the whole place has a timeless gentlemen's club feel about it and is the perfect place to get you in the mood for a night at the theatre.

On the menu, we enjoyed Bianchetti Fritti (fried whitebait) and Arancini Siciliani to start, which we paired with a lovely local glass of Hattingley Valley’s Blanc de Blancs NV. For mains, it was difficult to choose from the many traditional dishes you would expect to see. Mushroom and truffle oil risotto, Melanzane alla parmigiana, Pasta alla norma and a delicious sounding Carpaccio menu, all vied for our attention but in the end, we tried the special Lobster Ravioli and the Rack of Lamb. Albeit a touch heavy on the cream for me, the ravioli was expertly made by hand in the kitchen, and the lamb was cooked perfectly served simply with seasonal vegetables to allow the quality ingredients to shine.

There’s a really decent wine list here, especially if you love Italian wines (which I do) and we both enjoyed a glass of the Chianti Classico, DOCG Riserva from Toscana, which was delicious. There are further excellent wines by the glass to discover too, which is great if you’re short on time.

To finish it had to be Tiramisu and Crème Brulee, both of which were as indulgent and as naughty tasting as you would expect. We didn’t get the chance to sample the cocktail menu, not on a school night, but it sounded very worthy of a second visit. If not just to try Max’s famous Balsamic Gin and Tonic, which Max is working on producing a tinned version of, for diners to enjoy at home.

With a new pre-theatre set menu priced at £24.90 for two courses or £29.90 for three, we feel there’s not much else on Commercial Road that can offer the ambience, cuisine, and service of Max’s for a very reasonable price indeed. Give it a go.