Italian food can be daunting if you don’t eat egg or dairy. You’d think a Mediterranean diet of vegetables, pasta, and healthy salads would translate onto the menus of Italian restaurants and cafes in the area but instead usually find bowls of cheese-laden pasta and meaty pizzas. With a few notable exceptions, vegan isn’t really referenced either. I was expecting new(ish) restaurant L’Ulivo in Heaton to be the same, but as pleasantly surprised.
I took the Teen along for a sunny lunch recently after this exams had finished. We don’t get many opportunities these days for meals on our own without Dinky in tow. I managed to convince him not to order his default Lasagna and order something different, although I don’t think Pizza was too diverse a choice either!
With vegan actually labelled on the menu, it still didn’t seem like I had a huge choice of dishes. Marinara pizza, bread with olives, and pasta with tomato sauce were available. I don’t find pasta dishes too inspiring, although if it is a well-made pomodoro ragu it can be a delight to eat.
The Teen ordered Quattro Formaggi, which was a mix of pecorino, Fior di latte, gorgonzola and Emmenthal. The base was nicely springy and leopard-spotted from its time in the oven. Was it as good as Cal’s? Nope, but it was decent enough. As part of the lunch time special offer the pizzas had 20% off, so it worked out quite reasonable.
The Arrabiatta certainly packed a punch, although the Teen said I was being a wuss with the spicy sauce. The pasta was too al dente for my liking, making it a little chewy. Just a couple more seconds and it would have been perfect. The chef was Italian, so I’m not sure whether he’ll launch into expletives at this criticism next time we venture in.
There was an authenticity about L’Ulivo that the menu didn’t fully reflect, although I think they have probably played it safe to appeal to the Chillingham Road brigade. One course with drinks was just over £15 for us, which isn’t an insignificant amount to spend on lunch. That said, the portions were generous. It would be good to see a bit more variety to differentiate this stylish restaurant to others on this busy stretch of road.
Thanks for reading,