Italian restaurant/café, Mascalzone, is what you call a ‘hidden gem’ tucked away in the outskirts of Newcastle in Sandyford. I discovered it only last week and cannot recommend it enough; if you’re looking for a true Italian restaurant with charm, ambiance and delectable food then head on down.
What are you missing?
It is quite a small and cosy deli café but this is what makes it, it offers a stark contrast to the big and often overwhelming mainstream chains found on the high street. The family run atmosphere is evident upon entering and gives it a relaxing and inviting vibe. I would recommend booking as it is known to get busy and tables are somewhat limited. I should also mention, as I found out, it is only open until 8.30pm which is ideal if you’re looking for a bite to eat straight after work but not if you want to make a long affair. (Plus I eat slowly so I was clock watching!)
Their menu is concise yet very reasonably priced at £5-£6 for a main meal. The dishes on offer are specifically focused on the island, Sardinia and this is what makes Mascalzone unique in comparison to other Italian eateries in the area.
What did I eat?
To start I had minestrone soup which was simply divine, packed with fresh ingredients and plenty of flavour. The mixed bread basket is a commended choice alongside the soup, containing sliced focaccia, bread sticks and a baguette. The freshly baked breads were simply scrumptious and I really could live on an Italian diet for the rest of my days.
All of the mains available (pizza, pasta, salads and chicken) sounded ever so tasty, making my decision that bit trickier. In the end I opted for a pasta and pizza combination (sharing with my fellow diner).
The Rigatoni Pesto Genovese was very refreshing packed full of fresh pesto, cherry tomatoes and pinenuts. If you’re after a tasty pizza as well then the Contadina is perfect, it has a generous amount of toppings; tomatoes, mozzarella, grilled courgettes, aubergine, peppers, mushrooms, black olives and red onions on a freshly-baked dough base. I have to mention that the pizza was larger than the dinner plate and my eyes popped out as soon as I saw it!
A tipple, sir?
There is also an extensive wine list to choose from and what Italian meal would not be complete without a full-bodied red wine to wash it down or even an Italian beer, Ichnusa.
I do suggest sitting at the tables located just around the corner from the main seating area as this offers extra privacy and comfort.
All in all the meal was very well priced, extremely tasty with a pleasant and enjoyable atmosphere. It is very appealing to think that you could dine for under £30 for two during the week.
If Italian food is what you want (crave, need or desire) then go here, you will leave feeling satisfied as well as wanting to go home and book flights to Sardinia.