Review, Pasqualinos, Newcastle: Butternut squash soup that made everything better

Not so long ago I had a highly inappropriate crush on the 23-year-old actor Luke Pasqualino (Freddie from second-gen Skins). So, for friends reading this post who are aware of this minor and probably fleeting attachment (which I’m pretty much totally recovered from-ish) I just want to make it clear that for the most part, I won’t be writing about Luke today.Today I’m writing about a recent trip to a restaurant and this is my review of Pasqualinos Newcastle, which I was invited to visit in order to give my opinion on their great value set menu. Here, two courses come in at £8.95 and three at £10.95 respectively.

Myself and my dining partner, the lovely Katherine Weir, headed along mid-evening on a Thursday when the restaurant was pleasantly busy. As you can see from the menu  here, we had a lot to mull over before making our choices. I’m a great lover of pizza (love of pizza=>Freddie from Skins) and so it was very hard to pass over the enticing combos on the list, which featured an impressive quota of vegetarian choices, much to the joy of Ms Weir. However, as i’ve been following Slimming World recently, pass by the pizza I must.

Skimming the menu for slimming-friendly starter options the soups immediately caught my eye and I chose the soup of the day – butternut squash and caramelised onion – while Weir whetted her appetite with some minestrone. I must say, the squash soup turned out to be the star of the show. As soon as I came home post-meal I started scouring the internet for recipes for this combo.  It wasn’t one that I’d tried before but it really did hit the spot and was one of the best soups I’ve had in a while. Velvety and deliciously sweet – it was just the ticket for someone who has been going cold turkey on cake and I’m pretty sure a syn-free version is on the horizon soon.

When it came to the main courses Katherine found it fairly hard to choose as there were far more than the token one or two options for vegetarians. After my meat-free month last March I really appreciate a menu that recognises meat doesn’t need to dominate. In the end Weir settled on the ‘Joel’ a sprouting brocolli, toasted pinenut and chilli topped pizza.

For those who haven’t been to Pasqualinos before – it’s attached to the Theatre Royal and owned  by the same people as Paradiso, Popolo, Alvinos and Secco among others. I must confess at this point that Paradiso is one of my favourite spots for a value bite in the Toon and Alvinos is always on my top cocktail drinking lists, so it had a lot to live up to. This was also my second visit to Pasqualinos – which has a very informal atmosphere compounded by the friendly staff, Italian-American deco and views into the kitchen. On a previous visit in August I was impressed by the meaty sauce on the rigatoni ragu but a little disappointed with how much pasta came in the portion, so on this visit I wondered how my main plate would compare.

I opted for the seafood risotto special, which is available for a small upgrade on the two course deal, which is perhaps why the portion I received time was a little larger. There was certainly a good helping of seafood in the midst of the arborio rice and a strong citrus flavour – which I always love. When I’m dining at invitation as a blogger (and without paying, on this particular occasion) I usually look around to spy on everyone else’s portions, but being in a booth made this a little trickier. That said, Katherine’s pizza seemed very much representative of the pizza all around. Although Alvinos remains her top pick for value pizza, she was impressed with the flavour combination and glad that the pizza wasn’t overwhelmed with cheese.

I really liked the contemporary decor and busy atmosphere at Pasqualinos (which cleared out later as we spent so long eating). In appearance it reminded me a little of my Leeds favourite, Salvos (you can read about Salvos here) though the food wasn’t quite to the same standard or price bracket, the relaxed atmosphere was definitely there and I’m eager to test the bar at Pasqualinos at some point too. They currently have 20% off cocktails at the bar after 9.30pm and the offer of a free glass of Prosecco with every two course meal from the a la carte menu, which finishes November 30th. These offers seem to change regularly so it’s worth peeping at their special offers page.

As i’d had a glass of vino with my meal and was slightly weary of increasing my calorie intake further I ducked out of dessert, but Katherine indulged in some cookies & cream ice cream, which came in a cute Pasqualino’s pot.

Pasqualinos ice cream

I needn’t have worried about the weight loss as I actually had best weight loss to date that week. Proof that you can eat out as long as you make considered choices. I’m planning on doing meat-free March again this year, so may well dip in to Pasqualinos when I do.

If you’re interested in taking a part in meat-free March or a meat-free recipe swap, sending vegetarian products for review, or offering sponsorship/prizes for this year’s competition please leave a comment below or email fay@foodfables.co.uk.

 

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