In the residential areas of large Italian cities– nothing leafy, posh, or historic, just street after street of modern apartment blocks – you’ll find modest restaurants, cheap, no great shakes to look at, that do a very nice business with the locals. Their cooking isn’t fancy, and tourists are highly unlikely to find them; they’re too far out of the centre to feature in guides. They don’t try to be original, or remarkable at what they do, they just fulfil a useful function in their area: affordable, everyday food.

Pizza Razzo in Leith reminds me of just such restaurants, although in a capsule sort of way, it’s a lot flasher. Space-wise, this neighbourhood eating spot amounts to little more than a broad corridor that leads to a kitchen dominated by a copper-domed pizza oven. Yet it looks spick and span, the potentially niggardly space opened up by natural light streaming in from a generous kitchen window. As we peruse the menu, my eye is drawn to the translucent tiled walls, the rows of smart enamel-shaded pendants that cast flattering light, the flashes of acid yellow throughout that bring Italian flair to safe simplicity. Behind its narrow, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it street frontage, Pizza Razzo is a congenial place to be.

Of course, it’s mainly a pizzeria, and I’m wondering whether we really need another of those. My eye alights on the pasta options, a populist selection, but the descriptions show discernment. Bolognese ragù, for instance, is made, typical of the Emilia Romana region, with a mixture of beef and pork, and served in the customary way with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. True to the eating code of southern Italy, they use Pecorino here in the Calabrian penne all’arrabbiata, not Parmesan.

I’m nodding approvingly , and nibbling the green Nocellara del Belice olives from Sicily, a fat pile, only £2.50, that couldn’t be more different from those briny, pitted cardboard-like things so many restaurants serve. Mild and fruity, a grassy oiliness, they disappear in seconds, just as the burrata with cherry tomatoes and rocket arrives, an arresting proposition, the creamy heart opening up and seeping out the emerging crevices of its firmer exterior. £5.75? In Waitrose you’d pay more for the cheese alone, an inferior version at that. By comparison with the purity of this dreamy cheese, the arancini seem more quotidian. That said, the rice is firm, each grain identifiable, it’s just that I want to bathe in the glorious milkiness of that burrata a little longer.

We can see sacks of Italian flour, they’re using the right type here, but for my taste the dough of our pizzas is on the soft side. Maybe that’s down to the way it’s been fired. It’s light, airy, it smells great, it just misses for me what I crave in pizza, or in proper baguette for that matter: that cracking sound when you break into the crust. But the toppings? They’re great. The hands-down winner, the one that everyone can’t stop eating? That’ll be the one with a molten cap of Gorgonzola dolce, fiordilatte mozzarella, acacia honey, crumbled walnuts, with curls of crisped up smoked Speck on top. The heat releases the scent of the honey, the saltiness of the blue cheese, the oiliness of the nuts. But no complaints either about our pizza that’s bubbling with smoky Provolone cheese, loaded with crumbled Sicilian sausage, draped with friarielli- that’s very fine broccoli-type greens- thoroughly lubricated with extra virgin olive oil, and assertively seasoned, almost as though it was an ingredient, with black pepper. We’re definitely no longer hungry, or so we think, until we dip our forks into the bucatini carbonara, impeccably executed, the egg yolks, grated Pecorino and diaphanously sticky guanciale (cured pork cheek) and black pepper bonding into a sauce that seeps through the holes in the bucatini.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have bothered with the ricotta pistachio torta. It’s of Italian caffè standard, a bit too green to be real, with a salty pistachio paste on the side. So next time, we’ll stay savoury and slowly work our way through the pizzas and pasta at each visit. Autumn and Winter are looking much better just thinking about that.

Pizza Razzo, 59 Great Junction Street, Leith 0131 554 4748

Food: 8 and a half/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Value for money: 10/10

Joanna Blythman, Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018