Jake sends me a picture of a pig’s head over Whatsapp, skin blistered and hard like it’s caught greyscale on Game of Thrones and has been sacrificed for power in battle. The eyes are closed, snout agape, singular ear reaching towards the heaven like a big piggy poppadum. In the jowl sits a carving knife which, whilst clearly there to carve up the meat for eating, eerily looks like it could have been the pig’s final moment. “You will go to Trakol” he types before ending the message laden with profanity. I won’t, I tell him, because I am in Newcastle on a Monday and it’s not open. He tells me he feels sad for me, which could be for any number of reasons. Good lad is Jake when he’s not carving up little piggy faces for fun. 


Instead, I find myself on the edge of a ring road at Zucchini, which is the American term for the courgette and clearly wasn’t a catchy enough name. The board outside promises ‘Cocktails. Tiramisu. Garlic Bread. Fresh. Proper Pasta’. I’m a little concerned about the order that list is in. Inside it’s sparse and industrial, with a large cut out towards the back to view into the kitchen. The menu is pleasingly short and accurate from the board, with ten or so pasta, a concise list of sides (including garlic bread), cocktails, and I assume tiramisu. I order three pastas and a bruschetta, washed down by a very decent house red and finished with a boozy slushie. £40. Jobs a good’un. The bruschetta is excellent; ‘nduja on the base, an excess of rocket, and burrata. The three things go together. It doesn’t need messing about with. 


The pasta is good, capably made, if not without some minor flaws. On one of them – the parpadelle with ragu, from memory – has clumped together horribly in the cooking with some bits not cooked at all as a result. The pici with the cacio e pepe is okay and the sauce feels more like an ode to brown butter than an amalgamation of cheese and pasta water, but it punches with deep hazelnut notes. The ragu with the clumpy pasta has a great texture and plenty of beef shin. It has acidity and richness. If it wasn’t for the pasta clinging on to each other in an orgy of lost limbs this would be an ideal way to spend £8.50. The fettucine with a ragu of fennel sausage and ‘nduja is best, thanks mostly to the funk of gorgonzola that seasons it throughout and provides a counterpoint to the ragu. The portions here are large and the prices more than fair. Zucchini is a good pasta bar that, whilst it doesn’t compare to some a little more south, is a recommendable place to eat in the region.