Lunch at Rossopomodoro, John Lewis Newcastle
When I’m invited to a restaurant to do a review, I’m conscious of two things. One is that, while it may be a ‘freebie’ (and I loathe that term – writing a blog post takes a lot of time and time=money), I like to question whether I’d happily cough up my own hard-earned for the experience. Second is that whoever has invited me will probably expect a praise-laden post, which is something I can’t always deliver. If you profess to write honestly, which I do, the good and the bad must be documented. As an avid reader of blogs, I’m suspicious when I read a post full of superlatives. Even at the best restaurants, I don’t believe I’ve had a faultless experience. It’s whether those issues overshadow the meal, and hopefully they don’t.
That said, I always try to balance positives and negatives in my own posts lest I write nothing at all. When recently visiting Cabana Brasil, which was a disappointing experience for people who have tried the real deal in Brazil, there were some good dishes prepared for us. Unfortunately, even though we hadn’t paid full price, I was stunned at the total bill. While some are sniffy about eating in chain restaurants, I’m no food snob. Eating in such an establishment should offer consistency, which is great if dining out with people who have dietary requirements. We felt Cabana didn’t offer value for money or any reassurances that there’d be the same standard for everyone that visits, which is a real shame. We were invited back to try out Rossopomodoro, along with some other bloggers it seems, a month or two ago. Located with John Lewis in Newcastle, as we’d been already visited after it first opened (read post here), I decided to review their Italian fare from a new angle this time round. I took my niece and nephew, who are notoriously fussy eaters, along with the Teen. The idea was I was going to see how child-friendly the restaurant is, while assessing the value of the new 2 courses and a drink for £7 menu.
Dining out with 4 kids is hard. Trying to get them to focus on the options is difficult enough amongst the squabbling. It is also challenging when two of the diners aren’t keen on Italian food, which I hadn’t realised until we got there. While my Teen will eat pasta and pizza happily until the cows come home, but my niece and nephew are harder to please.
I decided to go for the savoury dishes, while the kids wanted a main course and desserts. I’d teased them with a photo of the Nutella-topped Caldina we’d scoffed on our last visit, to seal the deal. My Panatina starter – breaded mozzarella served with ketchup – was nice enough. I’m sure kids will eat fried cheese like this, although I felt a bit disappointed by the single lettuce leaf it was presented on. I’d hoped they’d have done something a bit ‘jazzier’ to tempted the children to eat some greens. That said, my niece and nephew would have only consumed it if it was dipped in sugar, so perhaps Rossopomodoro know their audience better than I.Both chose the Milanesina – allegedly ‘juicy’ chicken strips – served with wedges and that solo lettuce leaf again. The chicken had been pulverised to make the breast stretch further, which meant it was unfortunately dry. Without our wonderful friend Mr. Tomato Sauce, both kids would have struggled to finish this off.
Their Bolognesina was slightly better, although the sauce lacked the depth a long cook affords. It was a reasonable portion however; perfect for lunch.The Margherita Pizza was great, as per. Rossopomodoro does Neapolitan well, with a soupy centre and chewy crust. It was, like the pasta, a good size for lunch. There was definitely still room for a pud though.
There was a need for a toilet break amongst all this and, while I normally wouldn’t discuss such things, feel this is important to raise. I had to leave the restaurant to take Dinky for a nappy change within the John Lewis store. While the other children are of an age where they aren’t too much of a worry, what happens if you’re a Mum dining with younger sprogs? I appreciate space constraints and all that jazz, but this is a bit off-putting. Anyway, back onto the food. Desserts were duly ordered and the Caldina was as good as our last visit. Someone was a little overzealous with the sugar dredger, as you can see, but that didn’t hurt. Their gelato was of a good standard, and the pistachio was particularly worthy of praise for its flavour.
Overall, this was a decent lunch. I think sticking to the traditional Italian dishes on offer is a better option if dining with fussy kids though, as Rossopomodoro do really good pizzas. Service was cheery, especially with the kids. We also felt £7 with a drink for two courses is very good value for money. I’d definitely return again, even if I had to pay myself. The Caldina alone is worth it.
Thanks for reading,
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