Neighbourhood restaurants/cafes are pretty thin on the ground in this part of the world.

It’s to do with the geography I guess. Market towns and villages don’t have suburbs in the way cities have – with, typically, a small parade of shops with a grocers, newsagents, an offy or pub perhaps and a little café serving tea and coffee, sweet treats, breakfasts and lunches.

The sort of café used almost exclusively by locals, who the proprietor knows almost as well as his or her own family, that becomes a social hub for the area – a modest, underrated little gem that everyone loves but probably takes for granted.

We found one in Eaglescliffe which I suppose is a sort of suburb or a neighbourhood of the greater metropolis of Teesside.

It was for many years called Station 5, in the small parade of shops by Eaglescliffe Station but last year ownership changed and it has a new name – Serino’s Deli.

The Northern Echo: Serino's Deli in Eaglescliffe

Now longstanding cognoscenti of the Teesside dining scene will probably recognise that name – as in Vince Serino, who created Santoro in Yarm High Street (an all-time favourite of ours as regular readers of this column may attest).

Vince died two years ago (his funeral was one of the biggest and best we have ever had the privilege of attending – truly life-affirming) but two of his sons maintain the spirit and substance of the excellent hospitality their father provided over half a century.

Riccardo (and his sons) keep up standards at Santoro and Rossano is the man behind the Eaglescliffe deli. It’s his first venture since selling The Three Tuns at Sadberge, where he spent eight years resurrecting a virtually derelict pub and turning it into a great success – so successful that it became something that was so all-consuming that it was incompatible with the demands of a young family.

The Northern Echo: Serino's Deli in Eaglescliffe

Ross – as he is better known – needed a break but he’s back with a smaller, more manageable operation.

When he first took on Station 5 last year he changed very little, keeping the same staff, same hours, same menu. But gradually the changes are coming.

The daytime café hours coving breakfast, brunch and lunch have been extended on selected Saturday evenings, on one of which we fetched up recently – to be greeted like long-lost friends by Ross who we hadn’t seen since his dad’s epic funeral.

We noticed that everyone else who came was similarly warmly welcomed.

The Northern Echo: Serino's Deli in Eaglescliffe

That’s the neighbourhood deli vibe for you.

If it suggests a lack of sincerity, that would be entirely wrong. It is the Serino way and the secret of their many successes. Plus, Ross will know a lot of people who clearly like, and patronise, his new venture.

The Saturday night deal is a small plates and sharing platters affair.

It’s modest in size but the emphasis is on quality ingredients, many of them locally sourced.

We always over order with small plates and that was certainly the case here. Hummus and sourdough £4, lamb meatballs £7, truffle and parmesan fries (£5.50), and a small charcuterie and cheese platter (£13) was too much, especially when I fancied a pasta dish (£12.50), linguine Napolitana, off the lunch menu.

The Northern Echo: The charcuterie and cheese platter at Serino's Deli in Eaglescliffe

But we battled manfully. The charcuterie was a varied array of salamis (one quite spicy) and prosciutto. There were three cheeses (one a nutty but not too salty pecorino), more hummus, bread, crackers, olives, onion chutney and quince jam.

The lamb meatballs were plump, juicy, bouncy and aromatic, swimming in a rich, slow cooked tomato sauce which I guess also underpinned the Napolitana sauce served with my nicely al dente pasta.

All good. Which is not to damn with faint praise, however, the standout dish was actually the truffle and parmesan fries. They were absolutely sensational.

I don’t normally get very worked up or interested in chips but these were something else – the hum of the truffle, the tang of the cheese, lightly crisp outside and lightly fluffy inside. Wherever you live, make the trip to Teesside for these beauties. Which is why it was criminal that our over-enthusiastic ordering meant we couldn’t finish them.

It perhaps goes without saying that service was excellent, not just from Ross but also the delightful and charming Millie. We might criticise Millie for not daring to tell us we were being pigs when placing our extravagant order but she was clearly far too polite.

We could have spent less on food and still less on booze and left with a bill comfortably under £50. It was actually £65 which we felt was very fair.

I want to live in a neighbourhood with a deli like Serino’s. I’d be in there all the time.

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Serino’s Deli and Wine Bar

5 Station Road, Eaglescliffe TS16 OBU

Tel: 01642 788864 Web: on Facebook and Instagram @serinosdeli_winebar

Open: 8.45am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday, some Saturday evenings (check Serino’s social media). Closed Sunday and Monday.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9 (truffle fries 10), Service 9, Surroundings 8 Value 8