Scuzi: North Bridge Street, Sunderland

Scuzi Restaurant, North Bridge Street, Sunderland.
Scuzi Restaurant, North Bridge Street, Sunderland.
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WITH so many Italian restaurants in Sunderland, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.

However, new eatery Scuzi is doing just that with a more simple approach to dining.

The venue, in North Bridge Street, has been transformed into a pizzeria by the new owners, offering classic Italian dishes.

As a Valentine’s Day treat, the ladies – Cara Houchen, Katy Wheeler and I – decided to head there for some grub before hitting the town.

We’ve dined here before, when the restaurant was known as Rustico and the food was good. This time, it was even better.

The menu has been condensed and there’s only a small selection – about five starters and a few traditional pasta and pizza dishes for mains, including spaghetti bolognese and lasagna.

However, that is a plus point with me, as it usually takes me ages to decide what to have!

The tapas-style starters are a great way of trying a range of different flavours and between us we opted for meatballs, hummus with pitta bread and a spicy salsa dip, and bruschetta.

Within the space of five minutes, the hummus bowl was empty and this tasty dish got the thumbs up from us all.

I’ve never been served hummus with a salsa side before, but it’s a winning formula. The more dips, the better in my eyes.

Both Cara and I tucked into the meatballs and even Katy, who’s not usually a fan, helped to devour them.

For mains, the girls went for a pepperoni pizza each and I opted for the pasta carbonara.

This is my favourite pasta dish and the meal was cooked perfectly – not too creamy and with plenty of bacon.

The pizza was top drawer too, with a nice, thin crispy base and lots of meat.

Although it was Valentine’s night, the place was empty.

I’m hoping that this is because people aren’t aware that the restaurant has been reopened, as the food is too good to miss out on.

It would be a shame if the idea of the pizzeria didn’t take off because, along with top nosh, the quirky interior adds another dimension.

It’s full of little vintage nick-nacks, such as old photographs, and the antique wooden tables and chairs are a nice touch.

Fresh flowers adorn the windowsill and I loved the beaded drapes that hung from the curtain rails.

The service was spot on too, and the owner happily talked us though the new menu.

In fact, the only criticism I have is that there’s no card machine.

So if you do decide to pop along. make sure you take cash, or you could be driving or enjoying a walk to the nearest bank to pay for your meal.

I know I’ll be more prepared next time, as one thing is for sure, I’ll be heading back.

Georga Spottiswood