Things do not always go to plan, especially when Storm Malik decided to cause havoc across the North East. An unusual few days topped off with a memorable visit to Il Cancello, an Italian restaurant which is well worth a visit.
Our original plan was to stay at Lumley Castle at Chester-le-Street as we had heard good reports from friends who had stayed there. Just as we were driving up the A1 my mobile rang:
“I am phoning about your booking tonight” said a concerned voice:
“Unfortunately we have had to close the hotel due to health and safety reasons as part of the castle roof has blown off with the storm” they continued.
Not to worry though, a quick look on the internet showed that a Premier Inn at Sunderland had rooms available for the night. So far so good.
The next day we were due to see the Disney production of Beauty and the Beast at Sunderland Empire. As we approached the theatre for the matinee show we could see a group of staff stood outside the theatre entrance. It turned out that one of the cast had tested positive for Covid that morning and the show was cancelled!
Fortunately things began to look up at that point. We visited Il Cancello the Italian restaurant that has earned an enviable reputation as one of the best Italian restaurants in the area. Situated off the main road in Beamish everything looked quiet and calm outside.
If a restaurant is buzzing inside and as busy as a bee at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon they must be doing something right. The popular Sunday lunch served until 5pm comes priced at £12.95 for one course, £16.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three courses.
The mains tend to be the traditional beef, pork and chicken options served with Yorkshire Pudding and vegetables.
Although good value my thinking was why go to an Italian restaurant and eat English food when you can taste the true flavours of Italy?
My starter of Pane Italiano, that is a selection of Italian breads, was served hot and was a good starter. My partner was impressed with the Insalata Di Pollo Cessatore, priced at £6.50. it was pleasing to see that the salad did not come drowned in dressing which is often the case. Sumptuous chicken and a fresh salad where you could taste the freshness.
The pizzas are huge but most of all authentic. I have tasted pizzas all over Italy from Turin to Taranto and the ones at Il Cancello are just as good I have eaten in Italy.
My Festa di Carne pizza was a meal in itself, served with meatballs, pepperoni, smoked sausage, chicken and Bolognese, it might give a Vegetarian a shock but for anyone who enjoys a meat feast it was a delight. Priced at £12.95 it comes under their Pizza Superiore range though if you fancy something a bit lighter a Margherita is £8.95 and along with three other options they have, all are suitable for vegetarians.
My partner tried the Verde al Forno priced at £9.95. This vegetarian dish came with penne pasta, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, Napoli and cream sauce, topped with cheese and served straight from the oven. Apparently it tasted as good as any eaten in Bologna – though thankfully Beamish is a bit nearer to home!
A rich and firm vanilla cheesecake served with cherry compote priced at £5.95 rounded off an excellent meal served in an atmospheric Italian restaurant.
Things appeared to work like clockwork with each member of staff knowing their duties – which comes with years of experience. A friendly and welcoming atmosphere prevailed throughout our visit.
Things might not have gone to plan initially- though after the good dining experience at il Cancello we are already planning our next visit. The meal more than made up for our earlier disappointments, I am sure il Cancello will not disappoint you.
Il Cancello Ristorante Italiano, Station Road, Beamish DH9 6RN
Telephone 0191 3701 009