Bar Loco: A hidden gem of Newcastle

Ben Harris and Jack Dunne review one of Newcastle's trendy food scenes

Ben Harris
8th November 2020
Image: Jack Dunne

Bar Loco (@BarLocoNewcastle) introduces itself to customers with a rustic yet contemporary style. The warm and welcoming Cuban vibe of the bar and restaurant establishes an ‘out-of-city’ feel in a location a mere few hundred yards away from the hustle and bustle of St. James' Park. The restaurant was very quiet when we visited, but the Café del Mar Ibiza style music played an important role in maintaining a ‘busy’ atmosphere one would typically expect of a Friday lunchtime.

With early positive impressions of the restaurant, we were well looked after by happy and attentive waiting staff who promptly took our order of penne arrabiata, pancetta and gorgonzola pizza topped with potatoes, and a Parma ham and rocket pizza.

The penne arrabiata was fantastic; in fact, it was probably one of the nicest pasta dishes I have had in a very long time. As you would expect, the dish packed a spicy punch. But although strong in flavour, the chilli was unimposing, having been well complemented by the freshly chopped parsley which balanced the dish perfectly. A great pasta dish rich in flavour, which only left me wanting more.

It was probably one of the nicest pasta dishes I have had in a long time

With the arrabiata, we tasted the house Pinot Grigio which went fittingly with the pasta and left a pleasant taste in the mouth.

Potatoes on pizza was indeed something I found myself sceptical of when ordering the food. It must be said that I still remain sceptical about the choice to include patatas bravas style potatoes on a pizza. The combination wasn’t really to mine or Ben’s taste. Having said this, the quality of the rest of the pizza made up for this, leaving us feeling very satisfied. A fantastic combination of gorgonzola and basil created a subtle Mediterranean tang on the tongue, and the soft gorgonzola was nicely accompanied by a salty pancetta, which very nicely cut through the creaminess of the pizza sauce. All of this on freshly made dough and cooked in a wood fire oven, it was quite simply sublime!

Freshly made dough and cooked in a wood fire oven

The less adventurous of the two pizzas was the rocket and Parma ham option, which had a mozzarella base and was topped with parmesan shavings. This pizza cannot be faulted. Once again, a wood fire cooked pizza with an Italian base made for very easy eating. The crisp, summery freshness of the rocket was helpful in levelling the richness and depth of the tomato sauce and Parma ham, to generate a fantastic lightness to the pizza. The mozzarella and parmesan held the other toppings together nicely and resulted in a very moreish flavour.

With both pizzas, we tried local beer ‘Jakehead', from Wylam Brewery in Jesmond. The 6.3% beer was a brilliant option to go with the pizzas, and was extremely quaffable despite its strong flavour and high percentage. A pint of this would however set you back £5.60.

Bar Loco is an incredibly well valued and friendly restaurant in a great location. Main courses rarely cost more than £7, and from Wednesday until Saturday between 12pm and 10pm, pizzas are available at £8.95 for 2 (less than £4.50 each)! Some drinks might seem a bit pricey, but the ‘Two cocktails for a tenner’ offer is very difficult to turn down. In my opinion this place is a hidden gem in the culinary community of Newcastle, and is definitely worth a try for all students in the area. So next time you are thinking of ordering fast food from a certain restaurant, just remember that Bar Loco is serving food of a much higher quality for a cheaper price...

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