Caffe Vivo, Newcastle
Posted: 11 Apr 2010
Viva Caffe Vivo
Devoted readers of our food and drink pages – there are thousands of you, aren’t there? – will know that the aim of our writers is to recommend places that we think are outstanding in one way or another, rather than simply review wherever we happen to visit.
We believe life is too short to spend precious leisure hours in a run-of-the-mill restaurant spending hard-earned money on mediocre food.
So, in our opinion, every place that we review here has something special about it, whether it’s food, service, architecture or a bit of quirkiness that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Caffe Vivo in Newcastle has the whole package.
Food – Italian, but a million miles away from the customary pizza and pasta offerings offered up elsewhere. Think more along the lines of rustic but sophisticated.
Service – exemplary. The staff here (as everywhere else in Terry Laybourne’s classy empire of restaurants*) are knowledgeable, friendly, presentable and professional.
Architecture – housed inside the historic Live Theatre building on the Quayside, it’s a mixture of glass and stone.
Quirkiness – as above. The fact that it’s part of the theatre building makes it a brilliant spot for pre-theatre dining (and you can often take your left-over wine into the theatre with you as I did last time) but it’s also a stand-alone restaurant that you walk into from the street, not the theatre itself.
Some dishes we’ve especially enjoyed there recently include starters of home-made melting gnocchi in rich tomato sauce, antipasto and flavoursome chicken broth with tortellini. For mains, herby pork belly, wild mushroom risotto with pecorino and fish stew with char-grilled sour dough bread. Puddings we’d recommend include crème brulee and soft meringue with chestnuts, mascarpone and hot chocolate sauce. Cheeses are great, Italian wines spot-on as you would expect and there’s a range of grappas to round off the Italian vibe.
The atmosphere is buzzy and relaxed and everyone I’ve been there with feels comfortable, whether they’re there for the bargain set price menu (£10.50 for one course up to £16.50 for three) or going for the pricier (but still reasonable) a la carte menu.
* see our interview with Terry via the link below for more about his influences and foodie philosophy