In the same way that you should never judge a book by its cover, I’ve come to find that the same assumption can be made of restaurants. I’m the first to admit that when visiting a restaurant a sumptuous ambient setting with good cutlery, plush decor and fancy glassware can often lull me under a spell before I’ve even turned the first page of the menu or tasted a morsel of food.
Despite all that grandeur there’s certainly something to be said for unassuming eateries that from the outside don’t grab your attention but have built up a reputation within and further afield from the city its located. From word of mouth and dreamy sighs over the amazing food or 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor, there’s often so much more than the eye can see at these tucked away food havens.
That’s the case with my favourite local Italian restaurant in Newcastle-Under-Lyme. It’s somewhat of a best kept secret partly due to it’s location and being overshadowed by an influx of well known chain restaurants within the area. Situated on the unassuming Pepper Street in the centre of Newcastle-Under-Lyme just a stones throw from popular drinking establishment Lymestone Vaults, this is a cafe come restaurant hybrid. In the day ‘Bellini’s’ is a hit with those seeking a bustling lunchtime reprise, be it from shopping, a catch up with friends over (very) good coffee with an extensive lunch menu of small pasta plates, sandwiches and salads followed by a home baked slice of biscotti or cake.
Come the evening (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) the day time menu of Bellini’s makes way for the evening menu of Amore which, although small, offers an authentic taste of Italy with emphasis on quality over quantity. You won’t get shop bought rolls at Amore; pasta, cakes, soups and even breads (the foccacia is delicious) are all baked or freshly made in the kitchen under Francesco’s supervision with ingredients sourced fresh locally, much like restaurants in Italy where their menu is dictated by the produce they pick up that day. It’s the attention to detail and authenticity that gives Amore it’s well deserved reputation within the area for incredible Italian cuisine.
This “home made” feeling certainly resonates through the owners who welcome you as though you’re family and dining in their home and Executive Chef Franceso Alfano often takes time out at the end of service to chat to the diners. Whether it’s to regale diners with stories of his hometown in Italy (which is Calabria in the far south, FYI) or to simply be lavished with compliments on dishes, all absolutely declicious and beautifully presented on a collection of distinct plates which make them super Instagram worthy (seriously, check Franceso’s Instagram feed to see his creations).
Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat in the afternoon or looking for an appetising evening meal, Cassie and Francesco’s home from home delivers mouth watering dishes with a signature twist which bring the taste of Italy to the centre of Newcastle Under Lyme complete with a welcome like the one that mamma used to give.