Food & Drink Reviews
Carluccio’s Restaurant Review
Now occupying what was the NatWest Bank, this is Carluccio’s most northerly venue in England and, sitting across the way from the Theatre Royal, resides in one of Newcastle’s many lovely Georgian buildings. Inside it’s something of a looker too, cream coloured with large photos of Florence and Naples adorning the walls. It’s spacious with high ceilings and marble worktops, and the inviting aroma that greets you upon arrival merely hints at the delights to come.
The menu offers a huge choice of authentic Italian cuisine, in particular many seafood-based dishes, all around £5-£15, so not too expensive, either. For starters I settled on Pasta E Fagioli (£4.65) which was a heart-warmingly thick tomato soup served in a deep bowl and consisting of borlotti beans and pasta together infused with chilli and Parma ham. I relished this nourishing dish with every spoonful and it was so good that I researched the recipe afterwards. My other half had Mozzerella Fusa antipasti (£6.75) which was a colourful plate of roasted red and yellow peppers, rocket leaves, mouth-watering Parma ham and melting buffalo mozzarella which was oozing in rich, titillating flavours. For main I selected Penne Giardiniera (£8.25) which incorporated fresh Purgliese penne pasta, crispy fried spinach balls and shredded courgettes laced in a buttery garlic glaze with just a hint of chilli. This was different from anything I’d ever had but I’d recommend it to anyone. My partner chose the far more lavish Fritto Misto (£13.50) which was a mix of crispy calamari, prawns, whitebait and sizeable langoustine together with garlic mayonnaise making it a great dish for any fishy fans.
To accompany our meal we had a side salad (Insalata Primavera, £8.75) that comprised of crispy pancetta, rocket leaves and walnuts balanced perfectly with sharp crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic dressing. The flavours were lip-smackingly zingy and not for those with timid tastebuds. For dessert I plumped for lemon and mandarin sorbet that lingered delectably (£3.95) while my partner had Torta Di Frutta (£5.50) which was a sweet pastry tart filled with mascarpone cream, fresh strawberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Both left us feeling absolutely stuffed, though the good kind of stuffed…
The wine list included fine Italian wines chosen by Carluccio himself and I’d highly recommend a bottle of Sicani Blanco with its piquant and light taste which was a perfect accompaniment to our meal. Italian culture endorses family and huge celebration and you can see how this restaurant, with its warm ambience and friendly and obliging staff, would lend itself to such occasions. The Carluccio brand is synonymous with first-class food featuring Italian-imported ingredients and their freshly baked bread, in particular the foccacia, is simply divine. And a superbly integrated deli counter makes this place a most welcome addition to Newcastle’s foodie scene. Magnifico!
Carluccio’s, 89 Grey Street, Newcastle. 0191 230 2148. www.carluccios.com/restaurants/newcastle