Tucked away on Market Lane just off Pilgrim Street in the centre of town, I’d previously heard about this little gem – Paradiso Newcastle. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I’m extremely pleased to report that this long-established eatery exceeded my expectations and is definitely not one to be missed on the map.
Firstly, Paradiso boasts an open-air balcony, ideal for those times during summer where you find yourself wanting to go all Mediterranean and eating outside, and it’s also perfect for after work meet-ups or a few drinks after dinner. They also have a chic and modern dining area, tailored with tasteful and intimate lighting and complimented by a variety of booths and tables that can accommodate groups of all sizes. There’s the obligatory exposed brick, specials displayed on blackboards and a wholeheartedly Mediterranean vibe throughout and it’s evident as soon as you walk in that the owners and staff have dedicated their time to create this cosy and atmospheric little establishment.
Speaking of dedication, the staff were warm, welcoming and friendly from the off, happy to make suggestions on the menu and the wine, and equally happy to leave us to it to give the menu a few reads. The standard of care is one that cannot be faulted, nothing is too much hassle and everything is tweaked towards each customer’s experience that you even feel like you are starting to become a member of the Paradiso family.
We were shown to our table – a comfy, intimate booth in the corner, and recommended the house white wine, something that we opted for to accompany our meal. Fruity, chilled and dry, this went down far too well and far too quickly (hiccup!). Complimentary warm fresh bread was also served and impressively this is all baked, as well as their desserts, in Paradiso’s very own bakery.
Presented with the menu, it was clear that it is catered for a variety of different palettes to suit a selection of different people. It’s quite a mixed bag, with Moroccan, Italian and even Thai cuisines, making it a challenge to find something you can’t imagine yourself eating. The diverse nature of the menu can be quite confusing and it did leave me wondering how they can do everything so well if the net has been thrown so wide, but I was more than confident the proof would be on the plate in a matter of minutes. Luckily, I was right.
To start, I chose the Antipasto Freddo for one (£7.95) – a selection of cold meats consisting of parma ham and salami, partnered with mortadella mozzarella, Italian style pickles and mixed leaf salad. This was just enough – not too filling and not too sparse, ideal as a light first dish to ease you in. Everything on the plate screamed quality, it is rare to find mozzarella so fresh it melts in your mouth. The pickles even proved to be a perfect touch, adding an edge to the meal. My partner decided on the Duck Paté with mango chutney; simple, tender and tangy – a deliciously effective flavour combination and only .
It’s not often I find myself deliberating over dishes I wish to have as my main but I found myself torn between the Thai Style Mussels cooked in coconut milk, chilli and lemongrass, the Moroccan Lamb accompanied by hummus and flatbread, as well as the Linguine teamed with mussels, tiger prawns, squid and salmon.
Eventually I opted for a different dish altogether – Mussels Marinières (£9.95), as the ingredients consisting of garlic, shallot butter and cream sauce sounded like an indulgent hug in a bowl. This French dish can hit or miss depending on where you are dining, but this interpretation was absolutely faultless, so faultless I may as well of been nestled in a side street restaurant in Paris, wearing a beret and fake moustache. The mussels were steamed to perfection and the sauce remained consistent throughout the dish. Teamed with a small sprinkle of fresh coriander still being able to taste a hint of shallot.
On the other hand, my partner challenged the Sirloin beef steak, cooked in chilli, spring onion, garlic, parsley and lemon butter matched with hand cut chips. The meat was tender and full of flavour, and again cooked exactly to his liking. At £15.95 it was an ideal portion size and the quality of the meat was far better than a lot of places I’ve tried steak across the city. The hand-cut chips were also a very welcome addition to my mussels, so really I had the best of both on this occasion.
Checked on by our charismatic and cheerful waiter, we were constantly topped up with wine and water, which added to the homely level of service.
I was even beginning to wonder whether I would manage to make room for my dessert but after seeing the variety of sweets, I was sure I would. Out came the classic cheesecake, although to my delight it was baked. This only enriched the flavour, casting a rich taste of vanilla over my mouth. The lemon sorbet topped with prosecco was our other option, equally as impressive and again, the self-production of Paradiso desserts added to the impact. No shop bought here, thank you very much and all desserts are very reasonably priced at £4.50.
Paradiso in a nutshell is just one of those restaurants where you find yourself wanting to try and test everything on the menu, returning to relax and if I’m honest, feel a little bit pampered. The food and wine were perfect throughout our visit and the staff couldn’t have done enough for us, which on a busy evening is a rare treat. Whether you’re visiting for a quick lunch, evening meal, family occasion etc, the positivity, passion towards their food and the perfect presentation of people who run the restaurant will truly make your visit worthwhile. A one to remain recognised on the Tyne.
Paradiso, 1 Market Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QQ. Reservations can be made via their website, or by calling 0191 221 1240.