Gateshead High Street is not somewhere famed for haute cuisine. Subway opening on Jackson Street was seen as the pinnacle of fine dining compared to the Greggs pasties and saveloy dips that were historically available if you fancied something to eat. The opening of a shiny new Tesco saw Frankie and Benny’s and Nandos set up camp nearby, hoping to capitalise on the Vue Cinema’s date night appeal. Not being a huge fan of said chains meant we would often eat at home first or hit the sweetie aisle of the supermarket before watching a flick. Curiosity got the better of me when a friend posted on Facebook they’d visited an Italian restaurant in the town centre. Low Fell with its plethora of restaurants is usually where we’ll head if we fancy a quick pizza or pasta and don’t want to cross the Tyne, but I thought we should give A Mici a try. Considering the other High Street alternative is Wetherspoons, how bad could it be?!
Jnr and I made the trip, figuring the vegan would be infinitely more difficult to accommodate with most things on the menu being geared towards cheese or meat lovers. Now we’re in festive party season I erred on the side of caution and rang ahead to book a table. The Italian accent at the other end of the phone was reassuring and unexpected, judging be some of the experiences I’ve had of late with Mediterranean fare.
The restaurant was empty when we arrived, and a scene was being acted out with the staff akin to something from Only Fools and Horses. A lady, which I presumed is Cinzia, was precariously balanced on a chair trying to put up Christmas decorations, while 3 waiters stood round her shouting in Italian. She gave up when diners started to appear, which is good news for those interested in Health and Safety. The booking was clearly unnecessary as we had the pick of tables, and we chose to people watch Gateshead’s finest from a window seat.
The menu is not ground breaking, and we’re assured the food is made using ‘traditional family recipes’. I was torn between trying their Polpettine Napoli and the Formaggio de Capra but fancying the veggie option chose the Goats Cheese. Jnr picked the Bucce di Patate, which were an average affair.
Instead of being served with croutons, as the menu stated, my starter was served like Bruschetta. It was actually more preferable this way, although the onion marmalade was on the overpowering side. For only £3.95 it was a purse friendly and filling option.
Risotto is one of my favourite dishes and is a great way of gauging how good a chef is, so I opted for the Ortolana version at £7.95. Trying to steer Jnr away from his dull Margherita so it made for a more interesting blog post I convinced him to try their Ravoli Giganti, pasta parcels stuffed with Gorgonzola.
I felt my main was the more impressive of the two, served topped with an enormous Parmesan crisp. Good job I’m not rigid about my diet considering the majority of Parmesans aren’t veggie friendly! The risotto was delicious and cooked al dente.
Jnr’s Ravoli was less pleasing to him and seemed of a ‘bought in’ standard. Having checked on the menu there were no assurances that the pasta is homemade, just ‘fresh’. For £7.95 maybe that was an expectation too far on my part. He cleared his plate, but announced that next time he’ll stick to what he knows best.
It may seem that I wasn’t that impressed by A Mici based on comments made relating to certain courses, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The staff were warm, welcoming and attentive. The food may have been run of the mill to an extent, but the restaurant does exactly what you’d expect it to for the price. A Mici is a great mid-week supper option if you can’t be bothered to cook, and thanks to their offers is also a cheap alternative with 3 courses coming in at under a tenner. Considering its location I was pleasantly surprised, and based on the family atmosphere I think the Cannys may pop in more frequently in future. Comparing it to the likes of Low Fell’s Vivere, which I recently reviewed, the difference in attitude towards patrons is night and day. Hopefully more people will ignore its locale and give it a try in the future.
Thanks for reading,