Newcastle Has a Nose for Cooking

Will McGuirk

Newcastle offers a family-friendly strollable downtown perfect for the young foodie looking to fuse the global with the local...

There are over 100 places all over the world named Newcastle, including one right here in Durham Region. The historic town of Newcastle, located in the south-east corner of Clarington, was once home to the influential Massey family, of manufacturing and philanthropic fame, and is now home to a growing community of young makers and diverse food options.

While the neo-Georgian Newcastle Community Hall, built in 1923 and gifted to the town by Chester Massey, anchors the centre of the downtown on King Street, many of the buildings around the hall and along the main street are former family homes and are now home to family-run restaurants.  

The New Massey House specialises in Greek cuisine and is a local fave. The aroma of delicious saganaki, spanikopita, lamb burgers, and tzatziki is irresistible and the Massey House front porch is a patio from which to savour the passings of the downtown as well as the mouthwatering smells emanating from the kitchens. The owners also operate and share space with the Buddha Belly Bakery, which offers gluten-free baked breads and sweets plus an excellent espresso. One can imagine the bouquet of cafe, bakery, and kitchen enveloping the diner.

Across the street is the Irish themed pub, Walsh’s Snug. This tiny oasis, run by a Dubliner, offers the best in traditional Irish fare along with live music sessions, all in an intimate setting decorated with the owner’s extensive collection of Irish antiques and memorabilia. The unhurried atmosphere and cozy nooks can lure one into many a late evening of conversation.

Exterior of Walsh's Snug, Newcastle, Ontario

Home-made family secret recipes are at the heart of the menu in these family-run restaurants are the core of Newcastle as are the large servings any Mom would be happy to dish up. Try one of the generous pies of Roselina’s Pizzeria (panzerottis are suggested) or the great Jamaican jerk of Da Taste, located on the eastern end of the downtown, and see if you can finish it all. The Old Newcastle House, a charming mix of neighbourhood pub and local eatery, also hosts the Newcastle Dairy Ice Cream trailer on its property in the warmer months. 

Downtown Newcastle lends itself to leisurely strolling, whether with a friend or your young family. The town takes pride in its heritage, and many of the buildings are over a century old. The small homes along the main and side streets speak to a slower time, and many are now occupied with local makers who are starting up their own enterprises. 

Health Soaps Bath and Body is a cute little shoppe just south of the four corners that is part of the owner’s century home. The store offers natural soap products and is a delight to browse and sample. As of now, the store is taking orders online with delivery or pick-up an option. All products are created with usage in mind but coupled with the healing attributes of aromatherapy. The soaps are great gifts, either for a friend or one’s own self.

A Gift of Art is an artist co-operative on King St. across from the Clarington Public Library branch, which is a wonderful and welcoming place to while away a few hours reading. The art hub is not just a showcase gallery for local visual artists, potters, sculptures, but also a gathering space for artists of all ages and disciplines, including musicians and writers. Classes have been offered in pottery, painting, drawing, drama, and writing. The gallery is currently closed until pandemic guidelines are changed sufficiently to allow opening up again, but artists are a creative lot. The co-op is now offering online video classes, including paint night parties and kid-friendly art projects.

Newcastle offers a family-friendly, strollable downtown perfect for the young foodie looking to fuse the global with the local.