Nestled in the lovely little suburb of Sandyford, lies the restaurant rated number one in Newcastle on TripAdvisor: Mascalzone. This Sardinian café caught my eye quite a while ago now and has been on my North East foodie bucket list every since! The menu sports many dishes that reminded me of Pani’s Café in Newcastle City Centre, but the food at Mascalzone has both a Hebridean and Sardinian twist, which I absolutely love. Their slogan, ‘flavours from the islands’, and their mission to lovingly combine flavours from both Sardinian and the Isle of Lewis get a big thumbs up from me.
The restaurant itself is an a very unassuming location – right at the end of a terraced street in Sandyford. It’s compact, cosy and has such a welcoming atmosphere that made me very happy to be there from the get-go. I should probably make it clear at this point that booking at Mascalzone is absolutely essential and the restaurant has introduced a system of four sittings per evening due to popularity (6pm, 6:30pm, 8pm or 8:30pm).
I started off my night with a fantastic Aperol Spritz – the only way to begin a night of fantastic Italian-style cuisine. The waiting staff at this family-run restaurant were efficient, friendly and had a good laugh with us which is always lovely.
Mascalzone is one of those places where you’re spoilt for choice: there are so many delicious-sounding things on the menu! For starter, we decided to go pretty classic and ordered the ‘Polpette Mascalzone’ (delicious meatballs served in a tomato sauce on crostini with pecorino cheese and rocket) and an eye-poppingly delicious garlic bread with cheese and tomato. The garlic bread was drizzled with a beautiful garlic-infused oil which added to the flavour but didn’t make the bread greasy – winner!
I feel like I’ve eaten out at some truly fantastic places in recent months, with my Dad even commenting that the pork dish he had at Omni Café in Monkseaton was the best thing he’s eaten all year (read my full blog post here). Now it’s my turn to make a bold statement: the main course I had at Mascalzone was the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. For those of you who know that I’ve been to Italy’ capital in the last year, this may seem like a bold claim. But maybe once I’ve described the dish, you’ll be tempted to go and try it for yourself to truly see what I mean.
For my main course I ordered the lobster and ricotta-filled ravioli, served with roasted cherry tomatoes, pea shoots and a mouth-watering garlic, chilli, fish stock, white wine and butter sauce. The pasta was just the right thickness and the filling just melted in your mouth! The sauce, along with some fresh lemon squeezed over the top, was to die for. I could go back and eat this dish over and over again accompanied by a nice bottle of white wine, and I don’t think the novelty of it or the beauty of the flavours would ever wear off. My dining companion openly admits he is not the biggest seafood fan, but this dish completely opened his eyes and I can now officially say to Mascalzone, thank you for helping him realise the beauty of lobster!
We also tried the Malloreddus Piccanti dish (Sardinian pasta served with sausage mince, garlic, chilli, saffron, courgettes, onions and pecorino cheese), having enjoyed something very similar at Pani’s Café. This dish was also a triumph and I loved the subtle saffron flavour and the warm heat of the chilli.
Already full up with delicious food, I was surprised my dining companion managed to persuade me to share a dessert! We went for a tasty vanilla cheesecake, which could be served with a number of different fruit compotes. We opted for raspberry and the sharpness of the compote perfectly offset the sweet, creamy cheesecake.
I eat out a fair amount and I know for certain that I’ve enjoyed somewhere when I can’t help but text all my friends and family, telling them they just have to book up and taste the food for themselves! We had a wonderful evening at Mascalzone – the food, drink, service, ambience and value for money all exceeded my expectations and I shall certainly be back for more of all of it!
Have you dined at Mascalzone before? Are you dying to go for yourself? Let me know by posting a comment!