Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Authentic Italian's Keeping Village Food Fans Happy; TABLE FOR TWO RICHARD NEALE Italia, Northumberland Street, Alnmouth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Authentic Italian's Keeping Village Food Fans Happy; TABLE FOR TWO RICHARD NEALE Italia, Northumberland Street, Alnmouth

Article excerpt

MANY people have taken to the internet to say they found Italia in Alnmouth 'by chance'. But on visiting that seems hard to believe as it's the place everyone is talking about.

When in Rome, goes the ancient saying, do as the Romans. It seems that when in this wonderful sleepy seaside village, you do as modern-day Romans... and go for an Italian meal.

Italia is part of the Hope and Anchor pub, but it really is a restaurant in its own right. And as soon as my fiancee and I walked through the door it was obvious to see why this place comes highly recommended.

The traditional wood-burning pizza oven and open kitchen demand your attention, and was the first thing we noticed as we took a romantic corner seat in this deceptively large restaurant - space which is needed as this place gets busy with, and caters for, parties of all sizes.

The restaurant has only recently opened, and the owners have done a great job with the decor, its brick walls add to the style and feel of a place which has that welcoming darkness that takes you away from the streets and transports you to your own little world.

And one of the benefits of being part of a pub is when you take your eyes away from the kitchen you can order a decent pint of real ale hand-pulled from next door and brought to your table.

You never know what you're going to find on a restaurant menu in small villages. But when the friendly and helpful waitress came to take our order there was a pleasing variety from which to choose.

The well-recommended gnocchi looked like a great choice but there's something about being by the seaside that makes you look elsewhere, and it was the pancakes filled with crab (PS6.95) and king prawns in garlic butter (PS7.50) that caught our eye.

It was happy hour and the place was filling up. From 4 to 5.30 every day Italia offers this half-price deal and, despite it seeming quite an early time to eat, it's a real winner with the locals - so much that booking in advance has become essential.

But the price and the crowds don't detract from the atmosphere or quality of the restaurant - the service was quick and the portions for both starter and main a great size.

Filled to bursting with locally caught crab meat, Donna's dish looked impressive, and tasted just as good. It really worked well with the spinach sauce and melting parmesan topping.

And my prawns certainly looked kingly, with just the right amount of garlic butter not to spoil the taste of the fresh fish... or detract from the splash of Pernod.

Served on a bed of rice, these can also be ordered as a main course as well. Not that we were in the mood for anything other than a traditional Italian-flavoured dish for that course.

Again, there's enough on offer to make you forget this is a restaurant in a sleepy village, with good looking fish and meat dishes including lamb shoulder and pork belly slow roasted in the wood fire. …

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