Three generations, two mams and one restaurant – the stage was set for a Mothering Sunday lunchtime treat, Italian style.
Having worked up an appetite chasing the kids around a sun-drenched Paddlers Park play area in Amble, it was time for us to take our seats at the town’s Zecca restaurant.
The Friendliest Port is certainly riding on the crest of a wave at the moment, with an influx of investment, development and first-class eateries.
Zecca was one of the first restaurants to put a spring back into Amble’s culinary step when it opened in 2009. Numerous eating venues have opened since, but on our recent experience, it’s safe to say that Zecca still warrants a place at the top table.
The restaurant has a smart, modern feel about it and images of Amble – both contemporary and nostalgic – adorn the walls. Opposite our table was an atmospheric black and white shot of Amble’s High Street in the 1920s.
The venue’s authentic wood-fired oven is also in sight. In full view and full flame, it left me itching to see the range of pizzas on offer.
And I was not disappointed with the menu. Having studied the options, I decided to unleash my inner carnivore and go for the Zecca Meat Feast pizza (£8.50) with Italian meats and mozzarella.
Meanwhile, my fiancée and her mum diverted from the restaurant’s normal menu by going for the special Mother’s Day offering – choosing the two-course option for £13.95.
The roast dinners proved too tempting to turn down, so the wife-to-be went for the roast topside of beef with Yorkshire pudding and a red-wine jus, while my future mother-in-law went for the Northumbrian lamb served with Yorkshire pudding and mint jus.
It is worth noting that while mam and daughter chose from the Mother’s Day menu, Zecca does serve a Sunday roast at weekends.
For younger eaters, Zecca provides options for children and the two little ones at our table went for the spaghetti Bolognese.
To wash down the fare, the missus and her mam went for the Prosecco, I sunk a pint of Peroni, while it was apple juice and milk for the children.
Having skipped starters, we were soon tucking into our mains and there were smiles and licked lips all round.
Meat Feast by name, Meat Feast by nature, my pizza was packed with salami, pepperoni and other toppings, such as bacon.
The base was just how I like it – thin, but not too crispy, nor was it stodgy or too doughie, and there was a decent spread of cheese, but in no way dominating.
Guilty of a small appetite, I couldn’t finish the pizza, so I was able to box it up and take it home ... only to find the missus devouring it on the couch for her tea that night!
The pizza was excellent, and this was also the case with the roast dinners; my partner and her mum were suitably impressed!
There was plenty of meat on both plates; the beef was succulent and tender, while the lamb was melt-in-the-mouth.
The Yorkshire puds were moreish and the accompanying vegetables – including carrots, broccoli and cauliflower cheese – were well presented and suitably crunchy.
The girls’ spag Bol was very good, with the eldest devouring hers in no time. Thankfully, I managed to sneak a small bite (when she wasn’t looking) and was impressed with the decent chunks of meat and the flavoursome sauce, which appeared to have little bits of carrots in.
The four females around the table went for pudding. The kids chose the chocolate ice-cream, while the adults chose strawberry and lemon curd Eton mess and homemade Ferrero Rocher cheesecake with caramel ice-cream.
The ice-cream was from nearby Morwick Dairy and its quality spoke for itself.
The cheesecake was delicious ; this huge slab was not too rich and the base had a nice firmness and crunch to it, but was not overly hard.
The Eton mess wasn’t messy at all; in fact it was very nicely presented in a dessert glass and was quickly polished off.
All in all, Zecca proved the perfect way to celebrate Mothering Sunday. It certainly left the two mams at our table very happy indeed!
SERVING UP A FRESH-FOOD ETHOS
It may serve primarily Italian cuisine, but Zecca aims to keep its ingredients as local as possible.
The restaurant’s website states: ‘Our ethos is simple. We only use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, to give you the best tasting dishes possible.
‘With our new, official licence we are now able to buy fish direct from the likes of Kevin Henderson, an inshore fisherman at Amble, who specialises in crabs, lobsters and langoustines. We are also proud that all of our pizza dough is handmade on the day and our pizzas are baked in an authentic, wood-fired oven.’
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Zecca soup of the day served with homemade bread & butter......£3.50
Garlic woodland mushrooms with poached egg served on toasted brioche (V)......£6.75
Homemade Amble fish cakes served with lemon and saffron mayonnaise and dressed leaves......£7
Mediterranean vegetable pasta bake with halloumi and basil (V)......£7.50
8oz ribeye steak topped with haggis, black pudding and peppercorn sauce, served with chunky chips and dressed salad......£18.50
Sweet chilli beef......£8.50
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8
ccess for the disabled......7
Toilet for the disabled......No
Verdict: Good quality food served in smart surroundings. Zecca aims to keep things local, from the ingredients to the images on the walls.
Contact: www.eatzecca.co.uk or 01665 713575.