PASTA sauce, growing up in our house, was always bolognaise, on Wednesdays, with a mountain of spaghetti.

I don’t even think I was even aware of alternatives, until I left Gateshead, in the early nineties, and mixed with young people whose parents were a bit more enlightened.

It was during my second year of university, a girl I knew, who grew up in the Home Counties, showed me how to make a simple carbonara.

Cooking ‘tea’ with bacon with was always going to go down well.

She added onion, garlic and mushroom, and then, a sure fire sign of sophistication, a glass of white wine, before blending in some cream.

The result, combined with this new-to-me ribbon pasta, called tagliatelle, was nothing short of a culinary masterpiece.

It has, over the years, been much repeated, but rarely ordered while eating out.

And so it was, during a visit to a quirky little Italian in Chester-le-Street town centre, the dish jumped off the menu.

The Deano’s on Middle Chare is one of three in the area with other Trattorias in Lanchester and Whickham.

Inside, the lighting is low, the smart, cream walls adorned with pictures of Hollywood icons and the music, as it was mid-December, was suitably Christmassy.

We were given a warm and friendly welcome and drinks orders were taken.

Shandy for me, as the designated driver, and a glass of house rose for my mam.

The menu is full of familiar favourites we think of as being authentic Italian dishes, but are now firmly part of the British palate.

There are a good selection of specials for the cheap and cheerful mid-week pasta or pizza, as well as more fancy dishes for a special occasion.

To start, I went for the Affetato Misto, (£5.50) a selection if Italian meats and olives, while mam went for the Pate Della Casa, (£3.95) which was chicken liver pate with plum sauce and toast.

On the whole, I was very happy with my starter, as most of the meats, salami, Parma ham and a baloney-style luncheon with a nice salad.

The pepperoni though, which I love, usually cooked, let the side down and as it reminded me of the sort you get on cheap supermarket pizzas.

The cheese too was a bit hard, and I feel a bit of mozzarella would have been a better accompaniment

My mam was a bit more critical of her pate, which she found to be too runny, although she did say it had a nice flavour and was ‘creamy’.

A traditional carbonara, as I understand it now, is made from pancetta, eggs and parmesan, and maybe is a little trickier to make than the cheats way I was taught 20 years ago.

When my food arrived it tasted just as mine did back in student digs, and that is no way a bad thing, as it was pretty good.

The mound of pasta, with a thick and gloopy sauce was the perfect comfort food from what was a dark and unforgiving night outside.

It came with generous amounts meat, particularly good value for £6.95 and I enjoyed every mouthful.

My mam, was less impressed with her Filetto di Salmone, (£10.95).

She said the salmon fillet and baby prawns lacked flavour and complained the tomato sauce tasted ‘like it came out of a jar’.

To finish off with, I went for the Italian profiteroles, three giant pieces of choux pastry filled with whipped cream, which tasted more like canned, squirty cream to be honest, covered with dark, melted chocolate.

It was a bit too much, too sickly, and I found myself unable to finish.

Mam, on the other hand, managed her sticky toffee pudding, but was not a big fan, describing her favourite pudding here as merely ‘okay’.

Honestly, she comes along to couple of restaurant review and she thinks she’s AA Gill.

To be fair, although the food was largely ‘fine’, there was nothing that would make me urge people to go out of their way to try it.

It is a shame because the service throughout was fast, efficient and friendly, we could not have wished for better staff, and the ambience created here is very pleasant.


Deano’s Trattoria, 15-33 Middle Chare, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3QD

Tel: 0191-388-0052

Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 12pm-2pm, then 5.30pm-10pm; Sunday 12pm-8pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food 6, Service 9, Value: 8, Surroundings 7