Question: What do you get if you cross mouth-watering minestrone, stone baked Neapolitan pizza, in-house sticky toffee pudding and excellent value for money? The answer? Mac’s Pizzeria for Aberdeen Restaurant Week.
Nestled above The Esslemont on Aberdeen’s Union Street, Mac’s Pizzeria is a hidden gem. Much like the humble food it specialises in, Mac’s doesn’t shout too loudly about itself, but trust me when I tell you that with three courses for £20 the food does all the talking.
On climbing the stairs to the restaurant we were immediately welcomed by the ambient hue of fairy lights and a bright red Vespa suspended from the ceiling, all of which came second fiddle to the warm glow coming from a bespoke Neapolitan pizza oven.
Visible from our table, which also offered a view to Dotmasters street art on St Catherine’s Wynd, it was a welcome contrast to unwanted summer drizzle outside.
Kicking things off with ‘hearty and fiery’ soup and bruschetta
Mac’s Aberdeen Restaurant Week offering is two courses for £15 or three for £20.
Worried that too large a primo pattio would detract from the main event later, from four choices of starter I opted for minestrone soup served with a garlic ciabatta slice. My husband went for spicy nduja and mozzarella bruschetta.
An ardent bruschetta eater, this fierier version of the classic dish didn’t disappoint though was a fairly small portion. In retrospect this wasn’t a problem given the more-than-ample main courses.
My minestrone also had a kick to it. The rich and hearty pasta soup was a perfect blend of sweet tomatoes and warming chilli, made all the better by dipping a chunk of lightly garlicky toasted ciabatta into it.
You can’t beat the classics
Seven different pizzas and a Scottish cheddar-topped mac and cheese formed the main course options. Everything from a Veronese white-sauce pizza to the Mac Signature topped with ‘blaggis’ (black pudding and haggis) is included, but we went slightly more classic choices.
My husband picked a BBQ chicken pizza, and I decided to sample the caramellata which has a tomato base topped with spinach, mozzarella, caramelised onions, goats cheese and garlic oil.
Can I be honest? Pizza isn’t usually something I’d go for. But as it turns out not all pizzas are created equal.
Let’s start with the BBQ chicken. Not sickly sweet like some similar-flavoured mass produced pizzas, the sauce was instead rich and tomatoey. Smothered with toppings of sweetcorn, red pepper, chicken and cheese, it was still sweet enough that the last morsel of my ciabatta was needed to mop up the plate. My husband’s verdict: “I couldn’t not finish it!”
Now for the caramellata. My goodness that is a good dish.
The slightly charred crust and crisp bottom was delicious in itself, before chunks of caramelised goats cheese melted in my mouth. The sweet caramelised onions perfectly balanced the tart tomato sauce making it moreish from the first bite. My only complaint was that I couldn’t eat it all. Well, not with a promised third course.
Finally, the desserts
Four options are available for dessert. Diners can end their meal with a selection of sorbets, chocolate fudge cake, or in our case, Sicilian lemon tart and sticky toffee pudding.
Aside from the sorbet, each of the other decadent puds comes with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. With the lemon tart, paired with a drizzle of raspberry sauce and fresh strawberries, it was a delicious accompaniment cutting through the tarte citrus filling.
With the warm and slightly spiced sticky toffee pudding, which came as an island surrounded by a sea of dark butterscotch-tasting sauce, it provided a cold yin to the warm yang of the rich dessert. Inexplicably we managed to finish both.
Mac’s Pizzeria offers amazing value for money. Exceptional food in an environment suitable for date night or families alike, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this city centre eatery.
You can check out Mac’s menus, including the restaurant week offering, here.
A: 38 Union Street, Aberdeen AB10 1BD
Price: £40 (not including drinks)
Aberdeen Restaurant Week promotion: Two courses for £15, or three courses for £20