Beth Dowd heads to the seaside for lunch in a little corner of Italy called Di Meo’s
If you asked the 10-year-old me for her perfect Saturday, she would choose pizza and ice cream by the seaside.
A few years on, and the draw of Di Meo’s in Whitley Bay – home of proper Italian ice cream and superb stone-baked pizza – remains strong. My taste in pizza may have changed over the years – my one-time favourite margherita replaced by a more interesting rustichela topped with mozzarella, smoky pancetta, Parma ham, rocket and parmesan on a thin crust with those special little pockets of crunch where the dough has sat on the stone – but there remains something very special about pizza and ice cream for lunch.
Di Meo’s pizza menu, which you can eat in and take away, is big and perfectly formed, served up alongside a selection of pasta and sandwiches, coffee, ice cream and ice cream milkshakes.
The setting is lovely, too – just off the beach at Whitley Bay, wooden tables and chairs surrounded by shelves displaying bags of pasta, jars of sauces and more to take the taste of Italy home with you.
At the back there’s a huge pizza oven where two chefs constantly push and pull pizzas back and forth, ready to warm the chilled hordes who pack inside to escape the wind whipping off the North Sea.
It’s always like this – busy and buzzing with chatter just like a proper neighbourhood Italian should be, and doing so well that expansion is on the horizon, with a second branch of Di Meo’s set to open in the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle soon.
No doubt the city will welcome the pizzas and the ice cream which the team take very seriously here, as evidenced by the array of awards on the walls. The 10-year-old me would go for a strawberry cornet, while the adult me loves the melon and marmalade sorbet – an inspired combination which will stay long in my memory. The chocolate brownie ice cream with gooey brownie chunks is also an essential post-pizza choice, and more treats make it home with us in the shape of a little bag of exquisite cannoli, each filled with luxurious cream with either white chocolate or pistachio. Both choices are fantastic and neither actually lasted the drive home – just as 10-year-old me would have expected.
Di Meo’s, Marine Ave, Whitley Bay, NE26 1LX, tel 0191 252 3814, www.facebook.com/DiMeosIceCream