Pani’s – High Bridge, Newcastle

Pani’s has featured on my blog before as it is somewhere I have visited too many times to count. When I first discovered it I wasn’t old enough to appreciate how good it is. I just liked the friendly welcome and, at the time, their Toffee Apple Cake. They stopped serving that years ago, more’s the pity. I loved it so much I had a whole one bought for me as my 18th Birthday Cake. I’m clearly digressing at the thought of cake, as per usual!
While Pani’s is a regular lunchtime haunt or cake stop for us, I’d not eaten an evening meal there. No disrespect to them, but we have some truly amazing restaurants in Newcastle and to me it was ‘just’ a cafe. We were looking for somewhere to have a light meal through the week and thought it might make a nice change to visit in the evening instead.
I arrived early to read while I waited for Raf to finish work. If I thought it was going to be leisurely I was wrong. The place was packed, like it is on a Saturday. I got a table but it was amongst diners & felt it rude to whip out my Kindle. I’m sure everyone thought I’d been stood up as I sat alone with two menus for what seemed like an age! I ordered my regular drink there – a glass of Bitter Analcolico. I recall the first time I ordered it I was presented with a pint due to my terrible pronunciation 🙂
Raf finally arrived and we got round to ordering. The evening menu isn’t too dissimilar to what is available through the day: my favourite – Numero Cinque – is there alongside Lasagna. They offer a lot more fish on an evening, and have daily specials. The most expensive dish is Bistecca ‘Mari e Monte’ (£13.45). I ordered one of the specials, which was Gnocchi with Chicken & Ham. The smokiness of the ham cut through the creamy sauce, which would have been OTT otherwise. I’m not a big pea fan but I ate them, much to Raf’s dismay.
I convinced Him to try the Lasagna as he’s never tried it before in Pani’s. It’s mine and Jnr’s favourite in Newcastle, without question. Raf said it was good, but not as good as his Mom’s. Clearly the omission of chicken heart and gizzards makes it inferior, but to me that’s a bonus! What I love is how good the sauce is. If an Italian establishment can’t get that right they should hand their aprons back, right?! It invariably comes out bubbling like Vesuvius, and one of the best bits is cleaning the plate once the pasta is gone with some bread.
We really enjoyed the food, but if you’re wanting a romantic meal it might not be the best place to visit on an evening, as much as I adore the place. We were there at 6:30, so it may quieten down after the post-work rush. Everyone should visit to enjoy the ambiance of what I feel is one of the best cafes in the North East.
Grazie a mille! Ciao!
Pip x
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  1. North East Family fun

    I don't know why but I just can't get away with Pani's – everyone built it up so much so maybe we were expecting too much but I think they were having an off day when we visited. I found the staff to be slightly rude and they ignored us a lot of the time. Plus I hate it when you are standing at the door/bar for an age waiting to be seated and all of the staff ignore you. Maybe it is just because I don't like super busy places though?

    You make the pasta dishes sound wonderful so maybe we will give it the benefit of the doubt and return one day xxx

  2. Emma Phillips

    I think because I know everyone there I have a different experience, but that's not to say I don't understand what you mean. It gets very busy, so I try to go when it will be quiet. They adore kids & Jnr was always fussed over when he was younger. Some staff can seem disinterested, especially during busy spells. Raf waited the whole meal for a glass of water, which I didn't mention because when it was picked up on the guy was so apologetic. If you can go early afternoon after the lunchtime rush I'd hope it would be a different experience for you xx

  3. Lee Burns

    Nice write-up Emma, as per. I really like Pani's; tasty food at reasonable prices, bustling atmos and friendly staff. Cheap enough for the Uni days, but defo good enough for the Actual Life days too. They do a squid ink-coloured pasta with Bottarga which is very much the bomb. I just had to google "Bitter Analcolico"!

  4. Emma Phillips

    Raf might try that next time we go, so thanks for the tip. Let me know if you have a bitter next time you visit. I thought it was awful the first time I drank it. Definitely an acquired taste, but actually quite refreshing.

  5. rachel kershaw

    I haven't been to Panis for years, we always end up in the Stand Bistro if we're in the High Bridge area. I think you've tempted me to pay a visit though, that lasagne looks delicious x

  6. Emma Phillips

    Even my lasagne isn't as good 😉


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