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Best views in the city? Review of Sunderland's new Knowledge restaurant

Looking for some of the best meals with a view in the city? Then you’ll need to head down to the East End’s newest addition.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:57 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 7:29 pm

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Knowledge restaurant, housed in the Boar’s Head pub, near the port, may be a little off the beaten track when it comes to dining out options. But its out-of-town location is also its USP.

Head through the doors at Sunderland’s second-oldest pub and you’re met with a stylish new restaurant that makes the most of the site’s prime position overlooking the Wear as it meanders under the Wearmouth Bridge and out to sea.

Dating back to 1724, the pub’s location once made it a popular watering hole for nearby port workers and those who toiled in the heavy industry that once dominated the riverbanks.

Knowledge has opened in the Boar's Head pub in the East End

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Today, old Sunderland is a little less bustling, but Knowledge certainly has enough pull to attract you to this corner of the riverside.

The 60-cover restaurant has been opened by business partners Davide De Vivo and Michele De Martino who’ve made their mark on the former Boar’s Head Bistro and Volare, with neon signs, faux grass walls and splashes of gold and Art Deco touches. Nature provides the prettiest feature of all, with the back conservatory offering panoramic views of the Wear, as well as the terrace which will open when the weather warms up.

The moniker Knowledge comes from the partners’ decades of experience in the hospitality industry, where they honed their skills on the busy Amalfi Coast before moving to Sunderland, with Michele working at the popular Angelo’s restaurant for the past few years, and Davide previously muddling cocktails at Langham Tower.

It’s a knowledge they pass on to customers and talking through the menu, its ingredients and inspiration for the dishes, is all part of the experience here.

Viognier with a view

We were blessed with a show-stopping spring sunset when we took our seats on a Friday night, which wasn’t as busy as it should be considering what they have to offer – but it’s still early days.

The menu is simply excellent for an Italian restaurant of this ilk: a good selection of authentic dishes, executed with passion, that won’t break the bank.

Antipasti starters feature some real Italian classics, such as arancino (£4.50), crostone (£6.50) and deep fried stuffed pizza dough balls (£4.50).

My starter was one of the best I’ve had in the city in a while. I’m not sure where they’d sourced that burrata from, but hat’s off to them, it was sublime.

Burrata from the the antipasti menu

The huge ball of rich, milky cheese oozed into submission at the lightest of pokes and comes accompanied with a selection of grilled vegetables, artichoke and plump Nocellara olives. It was good value for the quality at £7 and a great example of good ingredients used to good effect.

Moving on to mains, the menu is mostly burgers and pizza, the latter of which is served square, as is the tradition in the Old Country, with a great choice of tomato and white bases.

I went for one of the specials, a langoustine fresh pasta (£14) served with a fresh pasta that was just like Mama used to make. Natural flavours are allowed to shine here and it wasn’t overloaded or drowned out by the rich, tomato sauce. The desserts also look to die for, but sadly we had no room left.

Special mention too for the wine list, which is better than your average in the city.

The Boar's Head is the second oldest pub in the city, dating back to 1724. The oldest is the nearby Clarendon.

Davide’s speciality is drinks and he’s put together a really well thought-out wine list, with prices ranging from £18.50 a bottle to more premium options, as well as dessert wines for the sweet tooths.

I found a new favourite in the Domaine Eric Gelly Viognier, an organic wine full of body and aroma (£28) that we made sure to make a note of for future reference.

There’s also some colourful cocktails on the list, from gin-based classics to more unusual options such as coffee cheesecake.

Beers are in plentiful supply too, with options such as Neck Oil IPA on draft (£4.50 a pint), as well as bottles such as Kopparberg (£4.50).

Our bill for two, for two courses and wine was £75, which would have been double that for such views and quality in a bigger city.

Knowledge is the latest addition to the East End, which recently welcomed Seventeen Nineteen, a new arts and events space which has lovingly restored the old Holy Trinity Church following a major £5million conservation project.

Langoustine pasta from the specials menu

At the gateway to the East End, at the very bottom of High Street West, Pop Recs and the Sunshine Cooperative have also set up shop in once forgotten about historic buildings.

In such a colourful, historically-rich corner of the city, it’s great to see some of its grand old buildings being given new life – hopefully Sunderland will show its support back.

*Knowledge is open Wednesdays to Mondays from 5pm until 10pm and Sundays from noon until 6pm. It’s closed Tuesdays. Students get a 15% discount on food and drink (except Sunday lunch)

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First look inside Sunderland's old Holy Trinity Church after £5m transformation ...
There's a host of colourful cocktails on the menu
The terrace will open when it gets warmer
The restaurant on the ground floor has undergone a makeover
The restaurant has around 60 covers