Yarm’s glossy Italian promises sophisticated suppers. It’s a chic, modern restaurant with an inviting, ‘grown-up’ menu, filled with beautifully-executed favourites with tasty twists, from fiery black olive bucatini and braised short rib, to crab cannelloni, Tuscan herb calamari, saffron rigatoni bake and stone-baked pizzas, made perfect and very Instagram-worthy thanks to heaps of artisan toppings. Our favourite showcases beef fillet, gorgonzola and white truffle aioli. Gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan menus available.
85 High Street, Yarm, TS15 9BG; cenayarm.com
Uno Momento, Stokesley
A good one for hungry groups and families, Uno Momento’s mammoth menu offers something for everyone, whether your idea of the perfect Italian feast means half pizza/half pasta, big, comforting bowls of alfredo, oozy risotto, or a simple plate of gnocchi with Italian-style flatbread for dunking. This place does it all and its tempting happy hour and ‘two-courses-for’ offers mean you can enjoy a true taste of Italy without breaking the bank.
22 High Street, Stokesley, Middlesbrough, TS9 5DQ; unomomentorestaurant.co.uk
Panis Cafe, Newcastle
This intimate, backstreet cafe is a little gem, tucked away and owned and led by a lively bunch of Italian brothers and sisters. It’s been going strong since 1995 and is by far one of the most authentic Italian hang-outs you’ll find around these parts. It’s always packed, so book a table, but once seated, kick-back and prepare for a feast like no other. Start with spicy fish soup, create your own Sardinian-style platters, dive in to wedges of homemade lasagne and bowls of fresh, egg pasta parcels, or go for rustic ciabatta sandwiches and stuffed flatbreads. Their coffee, tiramisu and pastries are what dreams are made of.
61-65 High Bridge, Newcastle, NE1 6BX; paniscafe.co.uk
Cafe Lilli, Norton
A place known and loved for its creative cooking and upbeat bistro-vibe. Lunch could mean generous portions of antipasto or pasta of the day, while dinner might include foraged mushrooms with parmesan custard, roast sea bream with lemon and parsley risotto, mussels and clams, or even chicken and Tuscan baked beans. Stop by on Sundays for live music from 1-4pm
83 Norton High Street, Norton, TS20 1AE; lillicafe.co.uk
Cal’s Own, Jesmond
For bubbling, wood-fired slices, Neapolitan-style.
1-2 Holly Avenue West, Jesmond, NE2 2AR; calsown.co.uk
Handmade, stone-baked sourdough pizzas and cracking calzones. And you can go gluten-free.
449 Norton Road, Stockton, TS20 2QQ; scrann.co.uk
Il Mulino, Stokesley
Tip-top toppings – and lots of them – spread over thin, crispy bases. Hoisin duck and spring onion, cajun chicken, avo and rocket are combos we can’t get enough of.
Church House, College Square, Stokesley, TS9 5DN; il-mulino.co.uk
Zucchini Pasta Bar, Newcastle
A fast, casual pasta bar, serving up fresh, hand-rolled and hand-cut egg pasta. Go for their signature pappardelle with six-hour beef shin and rosemary ragu.
Degrees North, 55 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, NE1 6B; zucchinipastabar.co.uk