Mascalzone of Jesmond is an intriguing jaunt I’ve always wanted the pleasure of dining in and I got that chance one wintry evening in January. According to their website, Mascalzone states,
Mascalzone is a family run restaurant with a cosy and warm atmosphere. Come to visit us to enjoy our authentic Italian food with a modern twist. A fusion of flavours from the Mediterranean and the Outer Hebrides to offer you a unique experience accompanied by an exquisite choice of drinks, coffees and desserts.
Within minutes of our arrival, I could feel the hysteria in my starving stomach begin to erupt. The atmosphere was buzzing in the endearing yet petit setting as the team were controllably dodging around each other with glowing smiling faces which set the tone of our evening.
One of the things I initially enjoyed most about Mascalzone was its simplicity. Something I’d like to call simple with style. Their menus are to the point and have just enough choice to keep everyone happy. So, from a list of five red wines, we went for a large glass of Primitivo each, which was a elegant and fresh.
It was such a cosy setting for a drink, although at one stage I did believe a lady on the table next to me was conversing with me. This is when I knew I needed food…
From their straightforward menu, Mascalzone offers cuisine from the islands of Sardinia. Without further ado, from a list of seven starters and four breads, we decided on the Polpette Mascalzone and the Asparagi con Prosciutto. The polpette chunky meatballs, topped with pecorino (Italian hard cheese), were bulging in an oozing, rich tomato sauce served on crostino (grilled, crispy bread). The al dente asparagus wrapped in the scrummy Parma ham was ideal for me. The rocket salad was easy on the eye and was helped by the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing which glistened on the plate. Start as you mean to go on. Avanti con il cibo… On with the food.
In typical Italian fashion, Mascalzone concentrates on pizza, pasta, risotto, meats and fish. For our tastes on the night, the meats sounded the most appealing so I went for Hebrides Pork and my colleague decided to go for Bistecca. The rolled belly of pork dish was presented meticulously; the viola petals nestled at each corner added to the beauty. The pork itself was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle – it was fabulous combined with the roasted apple. The roast potatoes and the black pudding were on the money but I must mention the red wine and rosemary jus it was all soaked in as it was divine. It was a main that matched flavours impeccably. My colleague’s 8oz rib eye steak cooked medium rare was immense. Again served with viola petals, it was a tempting plate of food as the tender steak was served with chips and Diane sauce. So much so, it didn’t take my colleague long to polish it all off. It was another main that hit all the right spots. Mascalzone were lifting spirits and providing joy to stomachs.
When the dessert menu was presented our way, my colleague loves a cheesecake so he went for cheesecake with forest fruits and whipped cream. I wasn’t particularly swayed by anything on the menu but when I asked the waitress if they had anything off the menu that was gluten free, to my ecstasy she enthusiastically informed me that they had one of my favourites, Gluten Free Salted Caramel Brownie… My mind was made up; it was to be three courses after all. Each dessert was organised in a similar manner. My colleague ravished his cheesecake. The forest fruits added extra colour and sweetness but I felt the whipped cream wasn’t required. The brownie was a little firm but wow it was good; I’m not ashamed to say I devoured it all with ease. Make sure you ask for it as it’s off the menu!
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for more from Mascalzone. From the moment we walked into Mascalzone we became part of their community – I liked that. Grazie mille Mascalzone, we had a phenomenal evening.