Maria's Cafe, King Street, Mold, CH7 1LA. Tel: 01352 751668

I LOVE a good cafe. You know the sort: a coffee machine is constantly grinding away, there's a touch of steam in the air, the smell of bacon and the owner is out front talking to the regulars. The kind of cafe one of my favourite pop groups Saint Etienne sung about in their song Mario's Cafe ("Barry's looking through the Racing Post / Orders coffee, another round of toast").

Maria's Cafe on King Street in Mold is such a cafe and like the aforementioned eaterie it has a touch of the Italian about it. So much so that amongst the usual all day breakfasts and milk shakes there's the welcome presence of a few home cooked Italian meals.

It all made for an ideal lunch time snack with a colleague of mine giving us the chance to have a good natter about work while tucking into some cheap as chips pasta.

My workmate chose the gnochi with the potato dumplings served with what she called "a really moreish" bolognese sauce. In fact it was the sauce that was key to both of our dishes with my homemade Italian meatballs coming with an equally delicious tomato sauce. I've always thought meatballs are best done simply: beef and pork, peppery parsley, sweet onion and the aromatic anise of fennel seeds where all present and correct and importantly these were genuine balls and not just a collection of lumps and crumbs which is so often the case.

As we were eating Maria came out for a chat and she seemed to know every one of her customers by name. When she turned to our table by the window, her friendly manner made us feel welcome, without being too intrusive and it became clear every customer at Maria's was made to feel like they were known.

In fact she even chided me for my indecisiveness when debating whether to share a slice of cake or go for a whole. "We don't do things by halves in here," she laughed as I bowed to the inevitable and chose a huge wedge of raspberry Victoria sponge to go with my friend's lemon one. Naturally it was home made she proclaimed proudly and we were left returning to the office full and happy with a little bit to spare in my pocket.

Total bill (2 coffees, 1 lemonade, gnochi, meatballs, 2 x victoria sponge): £23

Ambience: 7

Service: 9

Food: 8

Children welcome: yes

Disabled access: yes