Central is a new joint in Newcastle specialising pizzas and cocktails, and it’s just opposite the central station. We headed over after visiting the science centre Centre for Life for a few hours beforehand to check out their new Lego exhibition. (Check it out if you can! They’ve built the amazing North East sights: Angel of the North out of 8,000 Lego pieces, the Tyne bridge, St. James’ Park and even Team Valley. And the DNA helix, and a load of other cool stuff.)
Central is a bit of a silly name for a restaurant though, don’t you think? Googling “Central Newcastle” or “Central Newcastle restaurant” doesn’t really get you results for this place. I suppose they’re relying on the central location to get them visitors, especially tourists. And bloody hell, the place is open until 2-3am! Hopefully that won’t mean it’ll turn into another Revolution and stink of old booze at lunchtime after a while. Not the nicest environment to have food…
I saw a picture of a pizza they make (on the NE1 Restaurant Week brochure) and that made me instantly want to visit. I love proper thin Italian handmade pizza made with fresh ingredients.
Pretty good vibes on the inside. We were freezing and requested to sit somewhere warm, and they took us next to the kitchen. It was a chilled out spot, warm enough. Loved observing the chefs, many of them Italian.
And I also loved the toilet :D. I have a bit of a thing for toilets. I love it when thought has gone into them and they’re kept clean, tidy and stocked up. Loooooved the full wall mirrors. But no soap. Sob sob.
Here’s the menu… It’s nice and concise, but the fact that Pesto Chicken doesn’t seem to include chicken and Broccoli And Sausage looks vegetarian… They’ll need to include all the important ingredients in the next version of their menus. The waitress did say they get asked about it all the time.
I ordered the Pesto Chicken pizza but swapped goat’s cheese for mozzarella (or ‘fior di latte’, as they called it), and asked for some chillies to add a bit of heat to the pizza. Really great service here, she even brought me some extra chilli oil to the table.
My husband got the Heat and Meat pizza, wasn’t too keen on the fennel sausages but I’m sure that’s down to preference instead of the quality of the meat. He even ditched some bacon and I’ve never seen that before! My friend Hannah ordered the Roast Veg pizza, which I thought looked fabulous. But what’s pizza without meat…..
I also ordered the Heritage side salad (nice, but not worth the money), James got Central fries (one of the best chips I’ve had, and loved the dips too [very strong garlic and a nice kick to the tomato dip]) and Hannah got a chocolate mousse (lacked richness, wouldn’t order again) for dessert.
Overall, the pizzas were nice and juicy. I wish they had extra virgin olive oil and balsamico on the tables for dipping the crusts in. I managed to have half of mine, and took the rest home in a doggy bag (I pretty much never manage a full pizza on my own). I hate wasting food, and the rest of the pizza was a nice lunch on the next day. Sometimes I feel like apologising for not wanting to stuff myself to bits, but the staff happily boxed the leftovers up, which was nice.
Table service was spot on throughout our visit. We got served by two different people.
One thing bothered me towards the end of the lunch, unfortunately. Coming out of the toilet a few staff members were having a chat at the top of the stairs. They saw me but didn’t acknowledge me in any way (no smile, no ‘sorry we’re in the way’, no moving in any direction), so I had to squeeze past them apologising for existing. I can (usually) somewhat tolerate people on the street doing it, but I would never expect it from people working in hospitality. Any professional wearing their uniform should be courteous and give paying customers the service they deserve.
I think I’ll be likely to visit again, especially if there’s good deals on. But the best pizzas in Newcastle are still made by Herb Garden.
I’d love to hear what you thought of Central Oven + Shaker if you visit… Just leave a comment below 🙂