Italian/Pizzeria. Manor House Road, Newcastle. Tel: (0191) 2816586.
Metro: West Jesmond „
I will probably get shot down in flames for this - but me and my girlfriend went to Francesca's for a nice, simple meal out, having eaten there many times before.We ordered the potato skins to start with, which arrived still frozen. The pizza we ordered came cold and had no flavour at all. When we asked about it to the waiter, he just shook his head and said nothing has changed. And then to top it off, they tried to overcharge us for the bill (double the price of the wine!) - I hear this is a regular trick of theirs. Watch your bill. We will never be going back. Sale Pepe, not too far away, is so much better.
Living locally, Francescas's has, or rather had, become a regular haunt, whether it be after work for a quick supper, a girlie lunch, or a family affair, but I must say, I'm rather over it.
Francesca's is situated on Manor House Road, in Jesmond in a wealthy suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne. Jesmond mainly caters to the wealth, and there is a vast student population due to the close proximity of the Universities within the City.
Francesca's had become a bit of a legend locally, and, by the regular queue's forming outside during opening hours it can be believed. I first started eating here over 10 years ago, and as of late, have noticed a decline in the fabled service and sustenance.
I feel compelled to write this review in a negative light, (you will notice the majority of my reviews are positive) due to a recent unpleasant experience.
I visited with my family, including my 7 year old daugher. While they generally make a huge fuss of children, making the dining experience a pleasure for all, they did on this occasion, make my daughter feel rather unimportant and this, for the whole family, spoilled the evening out.
There was a slight 'mishap' at the table, whereby my daughter spilled her drink on her chair at the start of the meal. I requested a dry chair (it could not be wiped as it had a fabric covering) and they continually ignored my request. I had to swap chairs, resulting in a very uncomfortable meal for me sitting perched on the edge of a cold wet seat. I could not wait to leave.
The meal I requested, a simple bolognaise pizza, came as spaghetti bolognaise. When I pointed out the simple error, the waiter, rolling his eyes at me, said I had definately ordered the pasta. I continued to say I had not, and with a rather loud 'tut' off he went to change the dish.
We were hurried throughout the meal. We had barely finished our starter (my daugher was still eating her corn on the cob) when our main course arrived. While this may not sound bad to some, it is to me when I expect a certain level of courtesy and service in any restaurant. Without regular patrons I fail to see how a business can survive, especially on new business alone.
However all is not lost. The food here is delicious, I am yet to have a bad tasting meal. What ever we have ordered in the past, from basic pasta and pizza dishes to the chef specials are always well cooked, tasty, hot when they arrive and satisfying. The prices are reasonable and the food is good quality and tasty. The only thing that now lets down this establishment it the poor service, which once upon a time, was top notch. There was always a laugh to be had, or a joke to share, now they are quite sullen, rushing meals along, and rarely smile. To some this may be acceptable, but for myself and my family, the service is as important at the food they serve.
This Italian restaurant has a 'no booking' policy. You enter the restaurant, and basically join a queue until there is a table available. There is a bar to order drinks while you wait. The menu is basic Italian fare, plenty of choice for everyone, pizza, pasta, chicken dishes and steak, with a basic dessert menu.
Its such a shame that this restaurants service is letting it down, but the food is not good enough to endure slovenly service.
Food I would give 4 Stars
Service I would give 1 Star
Overall I would give 2 Stars
I needed a place to meet up for lunch with a friend I'd not seen in a year and Francesca's came to mind as being one of his favourite eateries. I'd been once or twice and it had been fine, busy atmosphere and OK-to-good food. I'd remembered about the no booking policy so we got there at twelve on the dot and were quickly taken to a table. My mate is a bit of a chilli fan so we started off with chilli garlic bread which was perfect - sizzling on the palate without freaking anybody out with enormous heat. We both opted for the cannelloni and were we glad we did. It was superb, the best I can remember ever having and the portion size was certainly generous. A glass of the house red went with it very nicely. The food all arrived in good time and was piping hot. The only hiccup being attracting a waiter for the bill - no-one wanted to take responsibility until our actual waiter turned up. Catching up with a mate is good but doing so with the aid of well prepared food is priceless, as it says in those ads on tv and I'm taking my wife tomorrow for another helping. Cheers.
I am aware that I am about to embark on a review that may have me run out of town by the local linch-mob. Francesca's is firmly rooted in the hearts of many a local resident and passing traveller, so I am sure that one not so positive review will do little to upset the apple cart.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: On arrival, we were greeted with the obligatory queues which are very much part and parcel of the reported Francesca's experience... and we were hard pressed to take offence by the oh so impersonable greeting from our evenings waiter. It was not until we had our menus thrust into our hands that the doubt started to creep in. I had been informed not to expect the unexpected as the menu is hardly avant garde but the food is done to a legendary standard, and this is the foundation for the resturants reputation. Disappointingly, it took me quite some time to resign myself to a choice of what I would call a rather bland selection of both starters and mains.
THE MEAL: I had eventually settled on a chilli garlic bread starter, with Spaghetti in creamed salmon for my main course, my partner ordered a baked aubergine parmegiana followed by Vegetable Pizza/Vegetable Lasagne. The garlic bread was absolutly saturated garlic and minced chilli to the point of being inedible and the baked aubergine had so much cheese that I had flashbacks to my chain pub lunch the previous evening. The mains delivered no improvement to the degree that both dishes were placed to one side after a mere few mouthfuls. A particular let down was the cubed, obviously tinned carrots in the vegetarian lasagne, we'd been expecting fresh ingredients. I am disappointed to say that we promptly requested the bill and left with our belly's half empty.
THE ATMOSPHERE: The decor was the most refreshing point of an otherwise disappointing experience. A mish mash of family photo's, treasured celeb shots and oodles of Italian memorabilia, Francesca's certainly doesnt scrimp on character. My only concern was the number of times I had to leave this glorious environment to take solice from the unbearable atmosphere inside the restuarant. With a combination of heavy food, a stuffy evening and a lack of air conditioning made it difficult to concentrate on the food (which could have added significantly to the displeasure of eating it!).
All in all, a thoroughly unsatisfying exerience. Nonetheless, I advise anybody considering going that you must at least try Francesca's if for no other reason than for the reputation alone. Another reason should you need one would be the price, the whole evening cost us little over £25.00 including drinks.
Unfortunatly, I have been dissatisfied to point of feeling compelled to write this review, so be warned. Ordinarily, I think I would leave well alone, but the reputation of Francesca's has taken on a life of its own. Upon arrival we were full of anticipation of what (according to its reputation) was to be a very memorable meal, although sadly we left feeling disillusioned and puzzled - surely this couldn't have been the restaurant everyone has raved about. I am afraid to say that Francesca's, on my experience, seems to be a good example of the Emperor's New Clothes.
One place we like to eat is Francescas, mainly because it has been there for years and is within our comfort zone, so it was to this little pizzeria that we adjourned last night. It was too cold to go walking around town, and there was a definite need for cosiness and some good food.
The restaurant is situated in Jesmond, about 10 minutes from the bar lined Osborne road, so on warm evenings, its a great place to eat and then sample the delights of Jesmond!
The area is residential and as such, its quite difficult to get parked- in fact, its chaotic; the restaurant is on a junction and everyone seems to be trying to find a parking space ion a small area. Its easier to get a taxi because its not close enough to the Metro for this to be an option unless you genuinely like to walk!
Big glass windows let you know that you are at the restaurant, and regardless of the time you get there, it is always busy, and its obvious just from looking in that its lively.
Walk inside and straight away you are met by a queue of people. For newies this can be a bit confusing. There is a tiny bar area and people appear to be filling this area but in fact, this is the queue, snaking round from the arch leading to the restaurant.
The whole area is full of what appear to be reclaimed items, bird cages, gates, fire places and an assortment of large pictures and ivy draping everywhere. It is indeed a chaotic area but has a certain rustic charm, even the toilet sign is an old one and points you down the stairs, which have a rusty gate half opened at the top of them.
Once you have snaked round the bar area (this took us from 7.30- 9pm last night) you enter the actual eating area. Again, an assortment of items and tables dotted around the rooms, sporting the almost obligatory checked table cloths. The restaurant has actually been extended and there is a second room accessed by an arch way- just as well because as one member of our party told us, if there had been only one room we would have got seated at 10pm.
The menu is quite extensive and offers a range of starters, poultry, meat, pizza and pasta dishes. These are all good value, and as an indication, 6 of us had 2 courses each and the bill was £70.
Of course, I had to have a try of everything and the swordfish was especially good, this being priced at £9. There was a complaint that the beef was over cooked, but otherwise, no complaints.
The staff do try to accommodate different needs, and should you select a pizza dish and then want additional toppings, these are added at no extra cost. They also serve dishes such as half a pizza and chips which is a favourite of mine on a lunchtime.
OTHER BITS OF INFORMATION
TOILETS are downstairs, so not good access for disabled. They are not the best toilets I have come across and apparently, the mens were a bit whiffy!
A TAKE AWAY service is available and if you have any food left, they will box it for you- for the next day I assume.
OPENING HOURS Monday to Saturday noon-2.30pm, 5pm-9pm
This seems early to close but this is actually the last time they let people through the doors to start to queue.
It is actually testimony to the restaurant that it has been able to survive all these years with a no booking, and queuing policy. In fact, its about the only restaurant I know of, where people happily stand and queue. I have never found this a problem as the atmosphere is great and its really just like going for a drink somewhere before going for a meal. However, I can appreciate that it wouldnt appeal to everyone, especially if you want your pre dinner drinks sitting down.
The food is very good- tasty and large portions, and well priced. Whenever we have been here, we dont feel as though there is a huge hole burnt in the old pockets.
The service is fast and efficient but dont expect silver service- it wont happen.
The restaurant is child and party friendly, and if its your birthday they dim the lights and sing happy birthday, and give you cake- we know this as we got some cake last night.
There are separate smoking and non smoking areas and whilst people were obviously smoking at the bar, the non smoking area was definitely not smoky. This is an improvement to before the extension when smokers and non smokers mingled at the tables.
This is a great restaurant if you want a night fun night out in one place, with good food and a good atmosphere. Its not for those occasions when silver service and straight to table is required and in fact, I would say that its the kind of place to go with a group of people. There never seems to be many couples although there are some. However, for a party atmosphere, its excellent.
Thanks for reading.
Francescas is a relatively small, family run Italian restaurant in the suburb of Jesmond in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Situated at the end of Manor House Road furthest away from the Cradlewell it shys away from the big restaurants on nearby Osborne Road. It's well known by people living in Newcastle as the best Italian in the city, without question. Personally, i've never found a better Italian anywhere in England.
Francescas is always heaving and there's never an empty table, on any day of the week (with the exception of sundays, when it's closed). It's only open until 9pm and you can't book but people are ready and willing to queue for a table. The food is fabulous and dirt cheap and in comparison to the bigger restaurants on Osborne road it wins hands down on both quality and price.
Next door there's an extension to the business...a deli which sells everything Italian. It boasts a huge cheese counter and more types of pesto and pasta than i've ever seen before. There's also a counter with ready made pizza to take away if you don't have time to eat next door.
The restaurant houses a lively atmosphere created by people delighted with their meals and the money that remains in their pockets! Definitely a must for eating out if you're in Newcastle, but get there early to ensure you get a table!
I live in London and have done for the past 10 years. I have been to most of the top eateries in London, but have yet to find an Italian retaurant which comes even close to Francesca's retaurant. Situated in a mainly residential suburb - Jesmond - and only open until 9pm (closed Sundays) - this place really is one in a million. Queues start to form within 30 mins of the place opening, so get there early, but even if you do have to wait for a while, it isn't really a problem. Just order a carafe of wine and kick back and enjoy the atmosphere. When you (eventually) get to a table, do not expect silver service, but do expect really authentic and excellent Italian food. With a fab deli next door, a take-away service available and a menu which always leaves me wondering how they manage to make money, this little retaurant really is hard to beat. If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for? And if you know the place, don't you agree?