Restaurant Review: La Gabbia
By Adam Clery on February 7, 2012 in Food
La Gabbia. It’s a contemporary Italian restaurant deep inside the Ouseburn Valley and, chances are, you’ve never heard of it. Anonymity is sought after by a lot of restaurants, and avoided at all costs by others, but La Gabbia seems to have carved out a uniqueness with theirs, despite it simply being a by-product of its location.
Situated on the corner of Boyd Street (that’s halfway up Stepney Bank and halfway between The Cluny and The Biscuit Factory), it’s a restaurant that’s about as “out of the way” as it’s possible to be this close to Newcastle City Centre. Not the easiest circumstances in which to carve out a business, but it’s one that means that those who do come trough their doors are as valued as they are accommodated.
It’s a thesis that’s reflected in the menu. It’s certainly not the biggest, but all the staples of a quality Italian are contained within. A few pizzas, pastas, chicken and fish dishes, vegetarian options and a choice of steaks etc. However visitors are briefed beforehand that if you want something else, or you want something added, taken away, altered in anyway, they’ll do their best to oblige you. “If it’s on the menu somewhere, there’s nothing stopping us using it”, music to the ears of fussy eaters.
That said though, it’s not a budget eatery. While there are certainly options for those not willing to splurge on a pricy meal (the pizzas in particular are good value at under £10) the main dishes will set you back in and around the £15 mark, and a fillet steak, which I regrettably wussed out of trying, weighs in at £23. I’m not saying that it’s overpriced mind you, whilst I certainly wouldn’t pay £7 for king prawns under normal circumstances, that’s exactly what I’d expect them to taste like if I did.
You’re more than well looked after as well. The benefit of dining somewhere that isn’t victim to an onslaught of customers popping on a whim, is that there’s a far more personable level of hospitality on offer here. You’re greeted and seated as soon as you’re through the door, and the staff will happily shoot the shit with you while you decide what to drink. If you’ve ever wanted to know how ssssselebs feel when they dine out, this is a pretty good approximation. The special speil for the dessert menu at the end is worth going for alone.
Oh yes, the desserts. I’d never previously encountered a sweet pizza, but La Gabbia have two on the menu; chocolate and toffee. Both served folded over, a la a calzone, they’re the most brilliantly sickly things in existence, but in no way safe for consumption by one man alone. Get one, but get it to share.
All in all, La Gabbia definitely falls into the hidden gem category, but the absence of a bustling environment might put a number of people off. If you’re taking your own large group though, or you’re sick of having your order forgotten by uninterested staff who are spending more time watching the clock than they are the oven timer, then I doubt it’ll bother you one bit.
To call it a VIP experience is pushing it slightly, but it’s one of the few places I’ve been to where I thought my custom was genuinely appreciated. Being so out of the way means the very life blood of the restaurant will be repeat visits, so the best endorsement I can give is that I, for one, will be going back. If I can find it.
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