Tasting Italy in Durham

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Rambling around Durham’s cobbled streets you’ll find no shortage of Italian cuisine. From the shores of the Almalfi Coast to the rolling vineyards of Tuscany, a grey day in Durham can be remedied by the soothing flavours of this Mediterranean country. 

How can one even begin to think about the Italian food scene in Durham without mentioning La Spaghettata, the students’ beacon for authentic and affordable Italian dinner. Never empty, the cosy candle-lit interior along with the welcoming staff has made this restaurant the go-to spot whether you are looking for a date night or a modest meal for visiting family. Flexing a broad menu that has something for everyone, you will find all of your favourite classics on the pasta list while the pizza list offers a creative range of toppings on a firm base; try Durham’s namesake pizza for a homely taste. From the rich ambiance to the homemade flavours, Spags epitomises an Italian night in the city. If you find yourself last in the long line for a table, Uno Momento on Silver Street also offers a modest, delicious meal.

Never empty, the cosy candle-lit interior along with the welcoming staff has made this restaurant the go-to spot

During the busy final term at Durham while students were preparing for their exams, a welcome addition to the city may have undergone some people’s notice. Bella e Brutti, serving authentic gelato as well as Pizza portafoglio, has gathered flocks of friends who eagerly wait up and down Saddler Street, now a common occurrence every afternoon. While the prices (starting under £5) will definitely grab the attentions of students with their dwindling funds, it is worth appreciating the special opportunity to eat such treats that range across Italy. While the gelateria brings its luscious ice cream from the northern city of Turin, it is uncommon to find the traditional way of eating Neapolitan pizza (portafoglio – folded 3 times over) here in the UK, a delicious and savoury snack to try a favourite in a new way. Look no further than the dainty Bella e Brutti to perceive the Italian spectrum Durham has to offer. Moreover, with the brand new arrival of one of Rudy’s latest knockout locations, which also specialises in pizza from Naples, Durham has proved to be a market for Italian styles of dining that stray away from the conventional affair that has dominated and exhausted the high street. Rudy’s describes their pizza as “fluffy, light and too big for the plate”, typical of the traditional baking techniques dating from the 1500s still used today in their kitchens. 

Bella e Brutti, serving authentic gelato as well as Pizza portafoglio, has gathered flocks of friends who eagerly wait up and down Saddler Street

While the city centre displays some of the best Italian gastronomy in the county, the wider region of Durham shouldn’t be overlooked. Little Sicily, just a five minute drive to the east of the centre, has one of the most agreeable menus  from the Sicilian dishes it specialises in to the host of other enticing dishes such as hot dogs and burgers. Have a picky eater in your group? Cannot decide where to eat? Little Sicily delivers on all fronts as the most diplomatic restaurant in Durham, all for a fair price too. Speaking of price, La Spada Ristorante is probably the best value for money in the whole city. Located further to the north of Durham, La Spada oozes effortless charm in its service, portions and quality. 

Quintessentially Italian is the ability to serve good food seamlessly for a fair deal and Durham proves itself time and again to be one of the best places in the country to reach this standard. With new and exciting players showing up all the time while the longstanding restaurants stick to their family cookbooks, there is an infinitely rich world of Italian food to try right here in Durham.

Image via Flickr: jenniemayjessop

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