A nourishing newbie has landed on the 55 Degrees North roundabout in Newcastle and carb-lovers will be delighted to hear about it. Zucchini Pasta Bar is definitely worth a pop for fresh, hand-rolled pasta, tasty local produce and a fabulous friendly atmosphere. Go here for Italian soul food – whether you want to eat in with friends or to take out for a lunch break treat. The aim is to produce humble plates of feel-good, fresh egg pasta – and we love it. It’s the perfect place to carb up and catch up with pals over a plate of pasta.
It’s about the fresh pasta here – as much as it is about the fresh new look. The place is open, airy and sociable. With an open kitchen behind the counter, chefs are more than happy to chit-chat away while sheets of pasta are being rolled and dishes are being delicately formed. It’s pretty casual, but we like it. Bulbs hang from a stripped-back-to-basics, industrial-style ceiling, clean wooden tables line the floor and mouthwatering menus are placed in front of you among the shiny cutlery and glistening glassware. It’s cool, it’s simple and it screams ‘friendly food place’. Smiling faces greet you, sumptuous mains fill you and sweet desserts seal the deal.
We’re in for lunch so sparkling water is our refreshment of choice, but depending on your choice of pasta, the organic, Puglia house wine is a must-try. If red is your preferred wine, try the Le Sciare ‘Rosso’ Salento IGP 2013 (£2.80 for 125ml) – a young, fresh, warm plumb and blackberry flavour. And if white wine is your tipple, the Le Sciare ‘Bianco’ Salento(£2.80 for 125ml) has a crisp, zippy kick with notes of grapefruit and peach. You can also sip a classic bellini (£4.50), Peroni Red Label beer (£3) or a selection of fresh fruits and organic coffees.
Zucchini is a casual spot and the concept is simple – beautiful, hand-rolled, fresh egg pasta to be served to fine foodies of the North East. Producing sheets of golden, hand rolled pasta everyday with love, it’s all about serving up plates of wholesome, Italian soul food. Alan Barker is the chef behind the perfect pasta concept – he’s incredibly welcoming and he’s happy to chat to diners as he works his magic in the open kitchen behind the counter. Expect classic dishes, herby-infusions, six hour beef shin dishes and spicy specials for mains; sourdough, salad and meatball sides; and tempting ciabatta sandwiches if pasta is not your preference. If like me, casting your eyes over an exciting menu leaves you full of questions, the waiting staff here are happy to help with all the tasty terminology. But if you want to do a bit of revision before your visit, head to the Zucchini website for an in-the-know lowdown on all the Italian terms. ‘Ask The Italian’ is your own personal guide to the good stuff.
Seated and watered, we ponder over the pasta-filled menu, picking up bits of Italian history as we go. Did you know the humble noodle was first recorded as early as 1154 by an Arabian geographer called Al-Idrisi, while staying in Trabia in Sicily? Neither did we. But we’re inspired and ready to taste some of the good stuff. I opt for the pappardelle ‘6 hour’ beef shin and rosemary ragu (£6) – a bowl of braised beef goodness with tomato, red wine and rosemary. It’s the tastiest pasta I’ve had in a long time and I scoop up every last mouthful with a side of sourdough bread (£2). Happy to see many a gluten free option on the menu, my dinner date tries the pappardelle amatriciana (£5) – guanciale, tomato, white wine, chilli and pecorino. A spaghetti dish with a subtle hint of spice. What’s more? The sweet stuff here is great too. The mint and dark chocolate truffles (£3) are a must-try – topped with a soft candy floss that could be mistaken for wool. Round up your friends and family and go here for a pasta-fuelled feast. Perfect if you’re carbing up ahead of a big sporting event – go here to fuel up before the Great North Run arrives in town on Sunday 10th September.