“ Address: 33 Dean Street / Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 1PQ / Telephone: (0191) 232 5533 „
My son recently graduated from Newcastle University, and we wanted to book a place for lunch that would serve a wide variety of food that would cater for all the various dietary tastes around our table. My son recommended the Marco Polo; all the reviews on the web were outstandingly positive, so we booked a table via the online booking service on their website.
The restaurant is located right in the heart of Newcastle, close to the river, the railway station and the main shopping area. It is easy to spot due to the enormous frontage; it looks as if the restaurant has taken over about 3 large shops and turned them into one large restaurant. The frontage is decorated with unusual and rather beautiful columns - painted in pale blue and gold, they separate the large glass panes that make up the front of the restaurant. The entrance is a very solid wooden door set in a rather grand ornate stone porch. It all looks very old and very authentic, and I'm sure the building is quite historic.
Inside the owners have divided up the very large space into five separate areas. As a smallish party we sat inside the smallest area. This was dark and cosy, with an intimate feel and a minimum of noise.
I know that Newcastle can be a loud party place at night, and when I looked at the other areas available I could see that the restaurant could easily cater for all types of group. The other areas were very large and open, each with their own bar, and I could see that this would be perfect for a large noisy group.
The different sections are both upstairs and on the ground floor; each decorated with the same theme of brown leather banquettes, dark wooden floors, dark wooden tables and chairs, and walls of exposed brick. The whole effect is rather Spanish, but gives a nice rustic feel to the whole place without being at all tacky.
Every section has a lot of natural lighting due to the glass frontage and the fact that the restaurant is wide rather than deep in structure. Each section looks out onto the high street.
The restaurant serves Italian food, but with a bit of an unusual twist and of very good quality. Many of the other diners were eating pasta or pizza, and this looked very appetising - but we were out for a celebration lunch and wanted to eat something a bit different.
None of my party ordered a pizza, but there was a choice of 12 different pizzas on the menu at around £8.50. Most of them looked fairly traditional with the exception of the shredded duck and grape pizza! I was tempted by the pasta and risotto, which did look very different but extremely meaty. Some of the ingredients included rabbit and slow roasted shin of beef. The pasta and risotto again came in at around the £8.50 mark.
For starters I ordered Mozzarella e granchio (mozzarella and crab). I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but when it arrived I was very glad I had ordered it. A large ball of very fresh mozzarella sat on a bed of finely shredded crab, with some beautiful slow roast tomatoes and rocket around it. It was huge and rather rich, so I swopped half of it with my son, who had ordered Funghi Selvaggi (Mushrooms grilled with garlic and ricotta and served on sourdough) This was equally delicious but not nearly as rich, so the half and half combination was perfect. Both of these starters were around £6. My other son is a meat addict, and had the Antipasto Misto - a delicious looking line of meats, cheese and fruit. I quickly swiped the lovely artichoke from the end and the olives and figs - they were gorgeous - and I left him to work his way through the meats, many of them which were wrapped around the cheese. It was beautifully presented and at first I thought it was a kebab.
For main course I ordered the Pollo Farcito - a really delicious breast of chicken stuffed with a smoked Italian cheese called Scamorza. The chicken was wonderfully tender with a really brown and crispy exterior - and when I cut into the breast the cheese just oozed out all over the plate. It was served with olive tapenade and sat on a bed of spinach cooked with garlic and sunflower seeds - one of my favourite vegetables. The chicken cost £12.95 and I ordered a side dish of tomatoes and red onion which I really struggled to fit in as the whole dish was again very rich.
My meat-loving youngest son ordered the Occhio di Costola for £18.95. A chargrilled Rib of Beef which was very nearly too big to fit on his plate, this was served with tapenade and roast potatoes. Although it is not something I would enjoy, it looked beautifully pink in the middle and he cut through it as if it were butter, finishing every last morsel with a bit of a struggle.
After all of this rich food I really couldn't fit in a desert, but several people in my party did. They all looked delicious, but of them all the Pear and Almond tart with Almond ice cream for £4.95 looked like the one I wish I could have fitted in. The ice cream sundae was also very impressive but not something I could think about after such a huge meal.
With a couple of drinks each (I had a nice chardonnay and others drank Peroni) the bill came to just over £30 a head which I though was very good value for such good quality food.
There were a couple of children in the restaurant when we visited, and the restaurant prides itself on welcoming children, with crayons and drawing materials and a special children's menu. Because there are different sections to the restaurant it would be easy to separate out any noisy parties with young children, which would benefit both the families and other diners.
We were greeted very quickly at the door when we entered and our booking was found immediately. We sat in the smallest area, with around six other tables of small parties or couples, but at no time did we feel neglected. The service was absolutely excellent, with plenty of staff in black aprons within sight and attentive to our every need.
The food arrived very quickly, served by a small team of people - two to carry the food and a third, (who had an earpiece in and appeared to be a manager) supervising and making sure that everything was OK. Several times during the meal somebody checked with us that we were happy and it was easy and quick to order extra drinks. I imagine the earpiece was radion communication for the duty manager, and this was an excellent idea - allowing her to keep control of the many large spaces in the big restaurant very efficiently and discretely.
We used the toilets on the ground floor. The ladies was surprisingly small and although it was very clean, it not that well maintained (wobbly toilet seats etc). My son investigated the men's toilets and again reported that it was small with only one hand basin. I believe that there are more toilets in the restaurant - I cannot believe that only 2 cubicles in the ladies serve such a large place - but I did not investigate further.
I was very glad that we had booked Marco Polo for our special lunch. The food was delicious and the food choices different enough to make the meal one that we will remember for a long time. Although the prices were very reasonable, the whole experience was excellent and the service and ambience were the sort that I would expect in a much more expensive restaurant.
33 Dean Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 1PQ
I love Italian food and when eating out I normally opt for 'Frankie and Bennys' restaurants. However, I was recently out with my sister and her family in Newcastle and she insisted we go to this restaurant, Marco Polo. My sister holidays in Italy every year, enjoying the national and regional gastronomy there, and told me this place was as near to the real thing as she could get locally.
The restaurant is located on Dean Street in Newcastle. It is very central to all major attractions in the city and is well provided by transport links such as bus and the Metro trains. There is also parking spaces nearby at street level. I was attending an event at the Theatre Royal and I would recommend this as a place to eat pre-performance.
The interior is classy and comfortable and has a sort of designer appearance. I was concerned it didn't look very child friendly as we had two kids with us but this turned out not to be a problem. Kids can be specially catered for if necessary and if they want can get drawing equipment whilst they wait for your food to arrive. The seats were comfortable and there seemed apt space between tables. Saying this, it was possible to overhear the conversation of the couple sitting closest to us (not that I was eavesdropping!).
The menu uses Italian words to describe the dishes available although an English description of each dish is also provided. I thought the choice of food was very good and was surprised to see some fish based dishes on the menu too. As a vegetarian I was worried by the huge amount of succulent meat dishes detailed on the menu but pleased to see that their veggie dishes are marked with a 'V'. There are three or four to choose from in the pizza area but only one pasta dish is vegetarian- sundried tomato and basil.
I had a standard Margarita pizza which was stonebaked and which had a crisp, powdery base. It was made with fresh ingredients rather than sauce substitutions. It was served in a tall, spinning dish which made it seem more like a sharing pizza than an individual portion. Infact the pizzas are large enough to want to share. The children in my party found it impossible to eat their large portions and had to leave some.
There is a good choice of deserts from simple ice cream to poached rhubarb brulee. I would reccomend the tiramisu!
I think the atmosphere in Marco Polo was quite nice. I got the feeling that the standard of diner here is a bit posher than you'd see in Pizza Hut or Frankie and Benny's! I would recommend this place for couples on a romantic date or groups on a quiet evening out. Although kids are looked after here I got the feeling that they might find it a bit stuffy and grown-up.
The staff were very nice and had a good attitude. I enjoyed the food and didn't have to wait long between courses. Cost wise it was about the same as I would expect to pay in Frankie and Bennys which is great considering this is perhaps a slightly more authentic Italian cuisine experience! I would definately return here.
Check out their PDF menu on their website:
This has to be my favourite Italian restaurant in Newcastle. It's modern, clean, welcoming and the food is very well priced. The location is right in the centre of Newcastle on Dean street so its at the heart of the Newcastle nightlife and so transport links are great. There is meter parking right outside of the hotel or a large car park just over the road which is 70p per hour.
The quality of the food is great. The pizzas are stonebaked and unlike in some restaurants they are crispy without being dry and not really greasy. There are a lot of choice with pasta dishes. The meat dishes are slightly more expensive however the quality of the meat you get is high.
The restaurant is usually busy but the staff are very friendly and helpful and take your order when you are ready. Even on the extremely busy times I have visited you do not spend your time chasing up your food or the bill.
The negative is that sometimes it can get very busy and the tables can be quite close together. Also with some of the dishes (mainly the pasta and pizza) the portions are huge and you simply cannot finish your meal even though the food is so nice.
Your are looking at £35 for a two course meal for two and a bottle of wine. If you go during the week before 7pm there is sometimes a happy hour running for two courses for £10.
I would definitely recommend and it's a place I just keep going back to.
It was my cousins 17th birthday last week and my auntie and uncle asked my parents and I if we wanted to go out for a meal to celebrate. When we agreed they said they would book a table at Marco Polo in Newcastle for Saturday night.
== Where is it? ==
Marco Polo is an Italian restaurant located on Dean Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. It is near to the metro station and taxi's can be found outside. According to their website it's the place to be in Newcastle.
My auntie and uncle have been before but they said it has been refurbished since they were last there. It looks really nice and it's clean.
== The Menu ==
When we went in, they showed us to our table and gave us some menus. The menus were quite unusual. They were tall and thin and they opened out like a fan. The dishes are named in Italian but are described in English (thank goodness as my Italian is virtually non-existent!)
The menu had quite a large selection of food.
== Starters ==
Starters include; soup of the day (mushroom when we were there), Italian meats, Fried potato skins, muscles or chicken livers. We ordered four portions of fried potato skins, which were served with garlic mayonnaise and a chilli dip. They were cooked just right and the dips were tasty. The portion was a bit on the large side and my cousins shared a portion between them. I struggled to eat them! My dad ordered a portion of garlic mushrooms, which he said was nice.
The starters are priced between £3.95 (soup of the day) to £6.85 (Italian meats, cheese and fruit) but most of them are around £5.
== Pasta ==
Usually when I go to an Italian restaurant I would have spaghetti Bolognese. I was surprised to find that this wasn't on the menu. They do serve a large selection of pasta dishes though. They serve lasagne, carbonara and cannelloni as well as some unusual pasta dishes. The pasta dishes all sounded quite fancy and I couldn't decide if I would like them so I decided against having a pasta dish.
My mam ordered the "Pappardelle al ragu" - Shin of beef, fresh tomato & red wine stew and I tasted it and it was absolutely delicious. It was a bit like a tomato based beef stew. The pasta was quite wide (wider than tagliatelle) and it went really well with the beef and the sauce. I didn't think it would be something I would like but I was pleasantly surprised.
There is one vegetarian pasta dish, which is Sundried tomato, basil, chilli & garlic.
The pasta dishes are priced between £7.65 (Wild mushroom & mascarpone risotto) and £9.95 (King prawns, fresh tomato, brandy, basil & cream) Most of the pasta dishes are around £8.
== Pizza ==
There are 12 different pizzas but I just opted for the cheese and tomato one. My cousins both had a pizza with different toppings and they seemed to enjoy them. The pizzas were large and I only managed to eat half of it but it was delicious. The base was quite thin and there was a good amount of cheese and tomato puree on it. My cousins ate much more of their pizzas than I did but I was also eating some of my mam's pasta.
The pizzas are priced between £6.65 (Margarita) and £8.95 (Mussels, clams, king prawns, cod, squid, lemon & parsley)
== Fish ==
None of us had a fish dish but there is a good selection on the menu. There are 5 fish dishes, ranging from sea bass to swordfish. The prices range from £10.95 (Grilled swordfish, tomato, mint & white crab linguine) to £15.95 (Scallops, king prawns & monkfish skewers with tomato & bread salad). The Whole roast dover sole, brown shrimps & roast garlic butter with tender stem broccoli, is subject to market price.
== Meat ==
There are 8 meat dishes to choose from. My dad and my uncle both had a meat dish. Their steak was huge, filling the plate and they both enjoyed them. My dad also ordered a portion of chips as a side order.
The meat dishes are priced between £10.95 (Chicken breast stuffed with sage & buffalo mozzarella, wrapped in proscuitto with dried tomato & rocket salad) and £18.95 (Pan fried fillet of beef, truffled mash, wild mushrooms & barolo jus)
== Deserts ==
There is a good selection of deserts but I just fancied plain ice cream so that's what I ordered (it wasn't listed on the menu but they had no problems in doing this for me). My dad and one of my cousins had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream (£4.95). They looked really nice and they both enjoyed them. My other cousin (the birthday girl!) had white chocolate and poached rhubarb brulee (also £4.95). This also looked delicious and my cousin enjoyed it.
== Service ==
The service was good and all our orders were correct. We did ask for one drink twice as they didn't bring it the first time with the other drinks but I think this was probably because they didn't hear. When we asked the second time it came quite quickly. As it was so busy, there was quite a long wait between our starters and main courses but this gave us time to chat and for our starters to digest. The service was quite slow but there were lots of people serving and I didn't mind too much as they did come to us quickly once we caught their eye.
== Price ==
Altogether it cost about £180 for 7 of us, which works out at approximately £25 per head. We had 5 starters, 7 main courses and 4 deserts as well as at least 2 drinks per person (alcoholic and soft).
There is a 10% service charge for parties of over 6 people.
== Atmosphere ==
The restaurant was busy all the time we were there so the atmosphere was great. It started to quieten towards the end of our stay but the atmosphere was still really good. There was music playing, but I thought this was a bit too loud, as we nearly had to shout to allow the members of our party who were sitting across the table to hear. I think I was sitting next to a speaker too.
Marco Polo doesn't have the same kind of atmosphere as the little traditional Italian restaurants nor does it have the same sort of character - nothing in the restaurant looked particularly Italian, but it was still a nice place to eat.
== Overall ==
Although, I enjoyed my night out and the food was good, I'm in no hurry to go back as it was noisy and quite expensive (especially compared to traditional Italian restaurants). However, if I were asked to go back here I wouldn't say no, it just wouldn't be my first choice of places to eat.