When I first wrote this review, after my very first visit to Cal’s Own, the title was a question. After several visits and many takeaways over the last 6 months, it’s now a statement. In my view, Cal’s Own is without doubt the best pizza in our great region. I’m not alone either…
Take a look at any discerning foodie’s recent social media musings, or the Cal’s Own Tripadvisor review page, and you’ll see that there are a whole load of Cal’s Own fans. The restaurant only opened in October 2012, yet they’re already sitting confidently at number 5 out of 576 restaurants in Newcastle. Not bad going for a pizza joint that is yet to reach it’s first birthday.
The restaurant is spacious and unpretentious, with an exposed kitchen and some really cool commissioned photography of Brooklyn, Coney Island and New York etc. hanging on display. It’s not a huge place, but I’d guess there’s room to seat around 35-40 diners. As well as their extremely good-value standard menu, there’s also a Specials board to keep an eye out for, featuring their to-die-for desserts and some one-off pizzas. Oh, and did I mention it’s Bring Your Own Booze? Corkage is charged at £1.00 per person and I think BYOB compliments the atmosphere at Cal’s Own perfectly. Despite its popularity, I always feel like I’m in on a little secret when I eat at Cal’s Own, it’s home-grown and authentic and something that local people should be basking in.
Staff are friendly, efficient and know their pizzas, but the star of the show is without doubt the man himself, Cal. His passion for what he does is evident everywhere, from the delicious ingredients he has imported from Naples (no supermarket buffalo mozzarella here, thank you very much) to the expert equipment that helps him get the freshest dough in the North East. And the UK. Probably. Whatever, the proof is in the Pie.
Speaking of Pies (and by this I mean Pizza Pies, duh), the standard menu has four to choose from. Take your pick from the White Pie, Cheese Pie and Red Pie, all priced at £9.00 for 14” or £12-13 for 18” or the Neapolitan Pizza Margherita, priced at £10.00 for 14”. All additional toppings are priced at £1-£1.50 each, to a maximum of 3. As a creature of habit, I tend to always go for the same thing (the cheese pie with pepperoni, peppers and fresh chilli, since you asked) but on my next visit I will be opting for the Cal’s Own Calzone; stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, spinach, Grana Padano (DOP), Italian seasoning and 2 extras, priced at a mere £12.50 for 14”. I’m salivating just at the thought of it.
If you can squeeze anything else in after your pizza (and I recommend you try, since you can take leftovers home), give their home-made desserts a go. Creamy, indulgent, calorific and divine: everything a dessert should be. I’ve indulged in a slice of the Mississippi Mud Pie and the cheesecake (no, not on the same night) and have only three words to describe both: OH. MY. GOD. I’m not even that bothered about desserts normally, but at only £4, there’s no way I’m turning down these babies. Again, you won’t find anything like these desserts at this price anywhere in Newcastle. If all of this isn’t enough to have you running to 207 Chillingham Road, then I should also add that Cal’s Own also do takeaway. I’ve ordered in on numerous occasions and pick up my pizza just as it’s ready so I can enjoy it in the comfort of my own home, in my grey marls usually.
I think an important thing to add is that unbelievably, Cal is self-taught. His dedication and absolute perfectionism is inspiring in a world of greasy Dominos/Pizza Hut/Papa John’s/Pizza Express offerings, and we should be accepting nothing less than a bloody good pizza in 2013. The big contenders have had long enough to try and woo us with authentic ingredients, freshness and flavour, and in my opinion, they have failed dismally.
When a place like Cal’s Own comes along, it’s glaringly obvious that we’ve been putting up with crap rip-off pizzas for way too long. To have a place like this on our doorstep is fantastic and should be celebrated, so the next time you get a “special offers” flyer from the usual suspects through your door, do your arteries and wallets a favour and pop it in the bin.
For takeaway, call 0191 276 5298 and make sure you check out his snazzy new website too: www.calsown.co.uk.