‘Amalia’, in Campbell Square just off Duke Street, is a gorgeous, family run Italian restaurant with attentive staff and gorgeous decor, a refreshing change from their chain-restaurant competitors. However, the ‘Calzone Challenge’ is a tacky gimmick that leaves a bitter taste in the competitors mouth and not much in their stomach.

‘Amalia’ offers customers the chance to eat for free if they can complete the ‘Calzone Challenge’ within an hour; the competitor is required to demolish a monstrous calzone stuffed with mince meat and vegetables and leave not a single scrap on the extra large plate.

Myself and some friends headed down on a sunny Sunday to attempt the challenge. We were feeling very optimistic and had been taking the challenge seriously, having spent the morning watching ‘Man VS Food’ and discussing tactics. We were slightly hungover from a night out which we felt was an ideal position to be in – you know what they say, ‘starve a fever, feed a hangover’! We were definitely going to give this a good shot.

We sat outside and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and admired just how much the sun compliments Amalia – the restaurant could have easily fitted into the streets of Italy. When we ordered our 3 calzones I was a bit disappointed to learn that I couldn’t order mine without onions due to the fact that the ‘mix’ is pre prepared. Looking back, this should have maybe been a sign that we weren’t about to get an appetizing meal.

When our supersized meals came out, we tucked into them to discover why so few people have won the challenge – the filling is inedible. A mixture of mince meat, onions, peppers and congealed cheese is swimming around as a watery mix inside the stuffed crust calzone. Each cut of the meal saw more liquid seep out the sides, so much so that when we gave up our waitress had to mop our table down.

We spent 15 minutes trying to become immune to the vile filling and the stuffed crust so we could make a half decent attempt but it wasn’t pleasant. We looked around to see other diners enjoying what looked to be delicious food and we decided to give up.

Forking out £14 for the pleasure of a few mouthfuls of slop was not the best dessert to be honest.Now, this wasn’t a case of us having eyes bigger than our bellies as we actually went to another restaurant straight afterwards to fill up – it was just simply disgusting. It’s a real shame because I have eaten at ‘Amalia’ previously and their food is exquisite and reasonably priced. Plus, the service really is something special; you feel like you’re round at a family tea, which is the atmosphere the manager seems to be aiming for. It may be time to retire the ‘Calzone Challenge’ as Amalia seems better than cheap, tacky, money-making gimmicks.

Zoë Yvonne Delaney