Carluccio’s, Grey Street, Newcastle
REVIEW: Craig Wilde
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must stop and devote our attention to eating,” said iconic chef Antonio Carluccio. Carluccio’s Newcastle has been a regular haunt of mine for business lunches, coffee and cake moments over the years, but never really a place I had considered for dinner. The restaurant, situated on the beautiful Grey Street, always felt a bit too bright and airy for night-time gastronomic adventures, that is until now.
Following a significant refurbishment, and having heard excellent things about the new menu, I felt it time to revisit the idea of dinner at Carluccio’s. The interiors have been repainted with darker tones breaking up the creams, contemporary lighting and industrial lightbulbs add honeyed warmer tones with deep blue light washes across selected areas enhancing the ambience, to create a really inviting intimate space.
The menu still carries the Carluccio classics but has been revisited and now has a combination of sophisticated, flavourful dishes neatly balanced with traditional favourites. My dining companion Filipe and I started with a sharing platter, settling on the mammoth Grandioso sharing board; a carnivorous cavalcade of charcuterie and antipasti. The ‘bench’ of delights was a feast for the belly and the eye and would be perfect for a party of four sharing nibbles with drinks or a very light dinner with bottle of wine for two. Plenty of other options caught our eyes, the seasonal Butternut Squash and Prosciutto Salad, and the Caprino e Caponata, equally would have sufficed. We washed down our supper with the Merlot Corvina, a rounded fruity red with excellent character, one to savour or glug!
For main courses we plumped for the slow cooked Lamb Ragu Rigatoni, simple, tastefully presented and a marvel in the mouth. Often ‘slow cooked lamb’ can be more mushy mutton than soft textured subtlety, but this was perfection. I opted for a lighter dish, Lobster Tagliolini. Lobster can be easily overcooked and become rubbery but my half lobster tail on the top of my dish was a ‘Goldilocks’ moment, just right.
Already very full, with more than generous portions throughout and the wine just hitting the spot, our focus turned to puds. My fellow gastronome Filipe, stuffed to the gunnels, opted for a no fuss but well executed Brownie with Vanilla Gelato. I, however, keen to test every Italian on the quality of its Tiramisu, made that my option. This Tiramisu offered a super balanced take on the main ingredients, it felt adult, was served elegantly and was light enough to enjoy after such a large main meal.
Overall, the revitalised Carluccio’s feels like it has gone back to Antonio’s original food philosophies, great ingredients, simply cooked with a minimum of fuss but maximum of flavour. Essentially food for sharing and enjoying. The attentive and respectful staff add charm and personality to the evening, adding great insight into the food and wine they clearly know and understand so well.
Two course set lunch from £9.95 per person. An a la Carte three courses, coffee and bottle of wine from around £35 per person.