Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Restaurant Review: Rossopomodoro, Eldon Square, Newcastle upon Tyne

I'm not much in the business of accepting free food for reviews, mostly as I'm not much in the business of being offered it. However, when, towards the fag-end of a dreamlike holiday in Naples and the Amalfi Coast I got an email asking us to try out the Neapolitan stylings of Rossopomodoro it all seemed a bit too apposite to refuse. What better way of softening the post-holiday blues than a meal that recalled the flavours of Campania? What indeed!

We'd actually seen a Rossopomodoro in Naples, although we didn't eat there. There's 60-odd of them in Italy, and now quite a few here in the UK, the latest of which being upstairs in John Lewis. Kasia and I couldn't figure out what had been here before, maybe a cafe? Whatever, it's now been done out in the shades of bright functionality which are the stock in trade of the modern mid-brow eatery. Our table afforded a view over the late-evening shoppers in Eldon Square.

From a decent list of Italian wines I went for a glass of gutsy Aglianico. Kasia, on driving duties, had a lemonade which had the sherberty flavour of Amalfi lemons and was jolly nice too.

Thin roasted veal, Amalfi caper and anchovy sauce, caremelised cherry tomatoes
From a pretty wide ranging menu I went for the slices of thin roasted veal to start. For no reason in particular I hadn't expected it to arrive cold; the flavour of the meat was pretty subtle to say the least, and certainly needed the caper/anchovy sauce to pep it up. Things weren't helped massively by some undressed salad leaves. Never send a leaf out to fend for itself unless it's properly dressed, that's what I think anyhow.

Chargrilled homemade bread, wild mushroom cream, crispy pancetta, garlic, chilli, parsley
Better were Kasia's wild mushroom bruschetta, which packed some proper shroomy flavour onto nice crisp bread. Dangerously close to canape rather than starter portions though.

Black ink linguine, chick pea sauce, pan fried prawns, chilli
Kasia's main of squid ink pasta wouldn't have been out of place served in a seaside cafe in Positano. The pasta was bouncily al dente and the prawns unusually full of flavour. The chick pea sauce, sort of like a loose houmus, was interesting, and there was just enough chilli in the background to make the whole thing racily delicious. Easily one the best plates of pasta I've had in this town, or just about any other actually.

Pizza Napoletana with buffalo mozzarella
At the heart of the restaurant is a snazzy gold wood-fired oven, so I had high hopes for my pizza. On the plus side, the dough had the right balance of lightness and heft with a nice char, and the buffalo mozzarella was predictably delicious That stuff really is a gift from the culinary gods. The tomato sauce was a bit sharp for my liking and the whole thing had been doused in a herb-flecked oil which made the inside a bit greasy. Also, for a wood-fired effort there was a lack of smokiness. This didn't exactly transport us back to Pizzeria Trianon in Naples, but still, not a bad pizza at all, and nice to have a soupily-centred Napoli style pizza being served up in Newcastle, if only for a change.

Calda calda
The better of the puddings was the Calda calda, basically a deep fried lump of pizza dough covered in sugar and nutella. Like an extra chewy doughnut, but worth the effort.

My baba had a nice light sponge, but had been soaked in rather too much syrup and too little rum, lacking the boozy edge that's needed for this dessert to really work.

Service was a bit hitty-missy; the restaurant manager was really welcoming, but there were times when it was tricky to catch the attention of one of the waiters, despite there being a healthy staff to punter ratio. We were given one each of a fork, knife and spoon to eat our desserts, which seemed a bit odd although made attacking them quite an interactive team effort.

All told we enjoyed our dinner, and Rossopomodoro goes straight in at the higher end of places to get yourself fed in Eldon Square. I'd be interested to compare it with Fuego, the new place in Fenwicks, which also has a wood-fired oven as its centrepiece. The critical question is would I return to under the power of my own dollar? I think yes, for a bowl of pasta or a pizza a lunchtime, as these were the the things that were done best. Not quite la bella vita, but not too far off.


Rossopomodoro kindly paid for our meal. With any luck I managed to retain my critical faculties despite their generosity.

John Lewis
Eldon Square
NE99 1AB

0191 261 1287


1 comment:

  1. Nice to see they heeded my advice on the pancetta which topped the bruscette. When I did my review it was flaccid and I couldn't eat it! Shame the niggles are still there 2 weeks in, but there's still hope.


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