‘I love Italian food. I love pasta. A refrigerator full of water and Gatorade? Honey, that’s just not gonna happen’ – Queen Latifah
Oli & Joes
429 Stamfordham Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
Telephone: 0191 214 5111
It’s rare we venture out for dinner on a random Tuesday night but when I’m behaving like a (and I quote) ‘bumface’ sometimes we have to make an exception all in the name of cheering me up. An there’s not much that cheers me up as much as pizza.
We’ve been meaning to give Oli & Joe’s in Westerhope a try for a while now. It gets good reviews on Tripadvisor and is fairly close to our house (annoyingly, just a smidge too far to walk, therefore have to take the car) but that’s not the restaurant’s fault! We arrived just after 7.15pm on a Tuesday in the middle of the school holidays to find it surprisingly busy, in fact, it was heaving – always a good sign! We hadn’t booked and were asked to take a seat where a table ‘wouldn’t be long’. We weren’t offered a drink while we waited.
About 20 minutes later a few people (who had booked) came in and were seated instantly (which is fair enough – they had booked) and we still didn’t have a table. They were seemingly setting up two tables of four, which we presumed were for more people who’d booked so decided to cut our losses, try somewhere else and come back again when we’d booked a table. As we were leaving (presumably the owner) came out and called us back in saying our table was ready and apologised for the wait. Slightly embarrassing as it really wasn’t a reflection on the restaurant and no one likes being followed into the car park, but no harm done and we were seated.
The place is split into two. What looks like the main restaurant to the right as you talk in, and a few odd tables to the left behind a small waiting area , which is where we were sat. It’s a little away from the main buzz but still managed to have a little bit of atmosphere so all was good! Once we were seated service was swift. we ordered drinks (a pint of draft Peroni and a large white wine for £4.50 each). The menu is your typical Italian fayre, loads of pizza and pastas to choose from, we also saw a table near us ordering the steak which looked massive and really good value for money! With it only being a Tuesday night and the day before pay day we went for the 3 courses for £6.95 option; potato skins and bruscetta for starter and Amatriciana Pasta and Vesuvio Pizza for main.
Starters:The portions were good, both were as you would expect from an Italian’s really, there was no choice of dip for the potato skins but I would have chosen garlic anyway so it didn’t really bother me. They were nice and hot and the brucschetta tasted fresh and home made.
Mains:I ordered the pizza vesuvio (pepperoni, garlic and chilli) and I was pleasantly surprised. It was thin a crispy without being over cooked and although at first glance I thought it could have done with more pepperoni it actually it was so tasty it didn’t need it. There was the right amount of chilli and garlic and it wasn’t too over loaded with cheese. 2 thumbs up from me.
Dave’s Amatriciana tagliatelle (Bacon, Onion, Chilli & Tomato) sadly wasn’t as good. It was fairly tasty however if there was supposed to be chilli in it, it couldn’t be detected. The pasta was al dente which wasn’t a problem for Dave but may be worth noting if like me, you prefer your pasta on the softer side. All in all it was fine.but a little blander than it ought to have been.
Desserts:As part of the 3 courses for £6.95 we had two scoop of ice cream each (chocolate – no other flavours were offered) which was perfectly pleasant but nothing to really rave about.
All in all we had a fine meal, the bill came to £21.80, which is very reasonable, but everything was only fine. There’s an element of ‘you get what you pay for’, the food was reasonably priced if you’re ordering off the special menu and the checked table cloths and waxy wine bottle candle holders mean that it’s definitely the lower end of the market – which is great of you want a low-key., family friendly place with bags of personality and atmosphere. What really let this place down though was the service. Aside from the one female waitress and the owner who were stars and very, very on the ball with drinks, orders, attentiveness etc, the rest of the staff were slow and disinterested. We didn’t get offered a drink when we were waiting for our table and Dave was asked if he wanted Parmesan cheese on his pasta ( which he did) and the waiter was never to be seen again so not only was his pasta chilli less, it was now cheese less as well. How difficult is it to remember Parmesan?!
We were really hoping to fall in love with this place, being so local and cheaper than the other Italian’s which is a walkable distance to our house but sadly it didn’t bowl us over enough to spend the extra money on petrol to make the journey. With so much competition in the Italian Restaurant market, they don’t really do enough to stand out from the crowd despite their good pizza though!