Sabatini: Newcastle Quayside

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FOR a long time I’ve wanted to eat at Sabatini.

Every time I walk past it’s busy and everyone’s having a good time, but my mum always hustles me along to eat at her favourite restaurant up the road.

Last Thursday I managed to shake her off and finally found myself seated in the rather elegant and sexy VIP room for the restaurant’s traditional Sardinian night.

These evenings are a chance for the restaurant owners to demonstrate that their food goes way beyond pizza and pasta.

To start, we were served traditional Sardinian antipasto, olives, cheeses and cured meats on a giant sharing platter, with a lovely white wine, vermentino costamolino, to accompany it.

This was followed by clams and mussels in a white wine, garlic and chilli broth, which was fresh and delicious. I’m not always a fan of seafood, but this vanished like Shergar.

Our next dish was a fregola pasta with chorizo and linguine alla bottarga, pasta served with a fish roe, virgin olive oil, parsley and garlic sauce.

With this course we had a rose wine, serra loiri rose, which my partner said was the best he’d ever tasted.

Perhaps the most impressive course was the suckling pig. When it arrived sophistication went out of the window and everyone had their cameras out.

This is served on the restaurant’s regular menu and was beautifully tender with delicious crackling.

I was happy with the suckling pig, but the others on our table tried the lamb stew too and said it was very good. A lovely rich red wine came with our main meal, cannonau costera.

After all that we still managed to squeeze in some small, but tasty cream cakes and biscuits which our waiter encouraged us to round off with a toast and a shot of grappa.

The service and staff were warm and professional and encouraged everyone to have fun and get stuck in.

In between courses they took the time to explain some of the history of the food and the wine choices, which was a nice touch.

The other tables all seemed to be having a fine time and with a ticket value of £49.50 per person I wasn’t surprised – the amount and quality of wine and food we all ate would have amounted to much more elsewhere.

I really appreciated the idea of the evening and the thought that went into it.

It was a window into a cuisine I knew very little about and the staff really encouraged us to have a good time and get the most from it.

Having told my mum all about it, I’m sure next time we’re passing I’ll be able to tempt her in.

Alison Goulding