REVIEW: Scalini’s, Jesmond, Newcastle.

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IF you have a restaurant in Osborne Road then it doesn’t pay to play the shrinking violet … you really need to be making a noise to be heard above the din.

The Jesmond strip is not short of boisterous bars and restaurants plying their trade and when the sun is out, the street is awash with diners and drinkers looking for an alfresco hot spot to people-watch.

Scalini’s Restaurant is an old hand at drawing in the customers, and has been making a noise for years. The Italian diner has had a presence in the city for more than a decade, building a reputation for good Italian food, great surroundings and prices to suit most pockets.

The restaurant has recently undergone a design makeover which has turned up the volume a notch: Subtle lighting, exposed brickwork, wood flooring and contemporary Italiana gracing the walls. My wife was particularly taken by an impressive chandelier consisting of, aptly, upturned wine glasses.

The décor given a thumbs up, it was over the food.

Starter: calamari peperoncino (£5.95). Deep-fried salt and pepper squid served up in a mock newspaper wrapper with a side dish of roasted garlic and lemon mayo. The squid had bite, with a crunchy batter shell coating a flavoursome al dente centre … and Scalini’s don’t skimp on the portions. There really was enough on this plate for two.

Like my starter, the menu is similarly packed with choice featuring a mix of traditional Italian and a touch of what could be loosely described as fusion cooking, or, at least, fusion topping.

Among the pizzas was a Chinese, Cajun and even Indian influence.

And it was the latter that caught my eye, particularly as it was named after the restaurant.

The calzone Scalini (£8.75) is a folded pizza packed with tomato, mozzarella, peppers, onions, fresh chilli and tandoori-marinated chicken.

A little different, and more than satisfying. The chillies give the dish a dash of spice, tempered by the accompanying side serving of a refreshing cucumber and mint raita.

Dessert was simple. Chocolate brownie with a dollop of ice cream and strawberry. V Good.

If you’re looking to splash out, there’s plenty of specials to choose from, but equally, there are some great light bites and deals to be had.

The three-course for £8.50 (called ‘menu fisso’) is available every day, at selected times, and is an eye-catching one.

Another good reason to shout about a restaurant which continues to make a big noise on the strip.

Richard Ord

AT A GLANCE

Scalini’s,

61 Osborne Road,

Jesmond,

Newcastle.

Tel: 0191 240 7777

Website: www.scalinisrestaurant.co.uk