Don Beppino’s House of Lasagna

The name is really rather hard to beat, isn’t it?  Don Beppino’s House of Lasagna in the Newcastle suburb of Merewether is something of an institution, not dissimilar to [my childhood second home] Bar Italia.  The décor is atrocious; the food is fantastic; the vibes are high and the prices are ridiculously low.

Rasta and I enjoyed a wonderfully filling selection of Mediterranean carbohydrates, all topped with tomato passata and/or cheese and/or breadcrumb gratin.  We then shared a pizza for good measure.  The guy at the counter was extremely impressed with our healthy European appetites.

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A cute handwritten sign above the counter (signed off by the Don himself) informs us that there is no chef in the kitchen, “only Italian Ladies who do the cooking as it was taught to them by their mothers and Grandmothers.”  Don goes on to say, “I feel obliged to tell you the names of these beautiful Ladies, Angela, Rosa, Filomena and Anna.  they have been working here for the past 42 years since we opened Don Beppino’s.”

The Italian Ladies make everything from scratch, including the pasta, every afternoon.  The pre-prepared dishes are then displayed in the big counter and the food is heated up and plated (with toppings and sides) to order.  The restaurant only seats about 16 people – it’s mostly a take-away business, so the pre-prepared system is perfect.  Then there is the pizza oven section where the boys are kept busy all night rolling and twirling dough for a constant stream of orders.

wpid-20140419_201349-1.jpgThe three dishes we ordered from the main counter were supposedly entrée-sized, but could easily have been a whole dinner each.  The Polpette al Uovo weren’t, unfortunately, the ‘Italian scotch egg’ I’d envisioned; rather, the large egg-shaped things turned put to be fried dumplings made from breadcrumbs, egg and cheese(s).  Not a light start!  The Ricotta Crêpes were superior, with an incredibly tasty filling also involving spinach and romano cheese.  Topped with a cheesy breadcrumb gratin and served with a small field’s worth of fried potatoes!

wpid-20140419_202110-1-2-1-1.jpgWe couldn’t not have lasagna at the House of Lasagna, but it was ultimately the vegetarian one which took our fancy: silken layers of home-made pasta sheets with spinach, mushrooms, creamy sauce and a year’s supply of cheese.

And then we had the lovely pizza, the Viviana special with olives, mushrooms, onion and bacon.  And we ate it ALL.

wpid-20140419_202435-1-1.jpgGrazie Don Beppino, grazie pizza dude, and grazie Angela, Rosa, Filomena and Anna!

(NB: Clearly they’re not on Urbanspoon.  45 Railway Street, Merewether.)

 

 

Χριστός Ανέστη

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We finished cleaning and exiting the old house at 11.30am on Easter Sunday.  ALL DONE.  PHEW.

Our sweet Greek neighbours sent us off with a platter of biscuits, breads, pastries and red-dyed Easter eggs.  The instructions were to each hold an egg, crack it against the other’s, say “Christos anesti!” (Christ has risen) then have “lots of the kissing” (as said)! 

We shared this excellent Easter Feast of baked treats with the beaux-parents (and not the Whippet).

Noodle Soup Lunch XI (Ramen Ikkyu Reconsidered)

I have changed my mind about Ramen Ikkyu.  I clearly ordered the wrong thing last time, trying to be fancy with the tonkotsu miso option.  And whilst I kept meaning to go back and give them another shot – in the name of fair blog research – the possibility of disappointment put me off.  Having now tried the ‘Ikkyu Salt‘, I am now no longer disappointed, and have had to re-revise my preferences in my Ramen Round-up (Revised!).

I should note that it might not just have been my poor choice of bowls – it’s been a while, and maybe they have changed their tonkotsu recipe and possibly even the noodles.  But at any rate I am totally sold and will definitely go back when I don’t have the time to commit to Ippudou.

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So! I had the first item on the menu, the plain ol’ Ikkyu Salt.  And it was FABULOUS.  The noodles were straight and white and hard (the Ikkyu Miso had thicker yellow noodles, which I’m less keen on); the pork was a really nice cut, with naughty caramelised fatty edges; the toppings were simple and well proportioned.  I felt the salt-seasoned tonkotsu soup was still a tad wimpy compared to Ippudou’s, but once I’d added some fresh ginger mixed with soy sauce, it was very, very pleasing.  (Note to self: the Ikkyu Soy might be the way to go next time.) Also pleasing was the generous $6 side dish of mentaiko gohan, which was thankfully mayonnaise-free and also had lovely additional toppings including another half egg, which I popped into my soup.

I also went to Ramen Zundo again the other week (as it’s the closest ramen place to my office) and tried the Zundo Black, which was pleasantly rather than overbearingly garlicked.  I still really like their long, thinly-sliced, finely-ribboned slices of pork.  But the noodles still aren’t amazing, and the broth still just doesn’t seem as well made as at Ippudou, Hakata Maru, or [my new BFF] Ikkyu.  From now on I will walk the extra 5 minutes to the latter and battle for a table in the Sussex Centre food court!

Ramen Ikkyu on Urbanspoon

New and Old

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Old office.  Old floor.  New room.  New view!

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Desk staples.  New and crazily fragrant T2 tea – green with cherry and coconut – and new super useful thermos with inbuilt tea-infuser. Old Chanel sparkly lipgloss I thought I’d lost – hooray for finding things when relocating!  New but old-fashioned (and most beautiful) Oroton ’1938′ handbag from naughty Newcastle colleagues as a farewell gift.  Old but now customised ‘Team Nigella’ tote bag (I’m not too comfortable promoting Charles Saatchi’s art gallery any more…).

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New favourite toasted sandwich from old café – various roasted vegies plus mushrooms and spinach and pesto on fantastic olive bread.  The service is very patchy though so I will neither recommend nor name and shame. For now, I’ll just keep taking my chances to get that awesome toastie!

seabay

Old favourite Sea Bay.  Nothing new here.  Still excellent.