Smart Leisure Guide Review
As a professional restaurant critic, I am always looking out for the best places to eat and drink, for work and pleasure. Last week I was delighted to find this charming Ristorante – seriously fine food matched by a warm atmosphere – on my way to Glasgow Theatre Royal.
Well the name does mean My Sunshine, from the famous Neapolitan song written in 1898.
O Sole Mio in a prime location on Bath Street has been a favourite with diners since it opened in 1965. After a change of management in recent years, the new proprietor, Djamel Benouari, formerly at The Art House Hotel and Barca, brings his wide experience in hospitality to ensure hands-on management and attentive service.
The design is all about space and comfort, dark wood tables, large booths, Claret red walls and furnishings with a quirky decorative pantile roof. In the Theatre Kitchen see the chefs at work including the Pizzaiolo, the man who kneads the dough and bakes the Pizzas.
And the Pizzas are cooked in an original Wood Fired Oven which came to Glasgow from Naples, the home of Pizza, in 1965. You can’t get more authentic than this (unless you travel to Italy!).
Just a five minute walk from Queen Street Station, it’s the ideal place, as I found, for a pre theatre supper before going to see Scottish Ballet just around the corner. Call in for a business or shopper’s lunch, (an extremely reasonable £6.50 – £9.95); or book a table for a leisurely night out with friends.
This is no ordinary Trattoria. The A la Carte menu offers a feast of classic Italian cuisine – Calamari, Carpaccio of beef, (invented at Harry’s Bar, Venice), Vittello alla Milanese, Risotto di Mare, Tuscan Sausage, Lemon Sole, Fritto Misto. Family favourites – Minestrone soup, Bruschetta, Spaghetti alla Bolognese… and a lot more besides.
Plus the Daily Specials which last Thursday were Fish Soup, Veal Stew and for the Catch of the Day, Grilled Cod with potatoes, tomatoes and capers. What is excellent value is that these dishes are also offered on the Pre-theatre menu (2 courses, £12.95).
As there is a traditional wood-fired oven, I was tempted by a real Pizza. Pizza Pescatore.
As an appetiser I sampled Arancini con Mozzarella e Basilico; the Saffron yellow creamy rice ball was served with a delicious sweet & sour chilli jam. Very tasty.
I sipped a glass of House Wine, Pinto Grigio, crisp and dry and cold. And then my giant Pizza arrived, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and a pile of shellfish: mussels, clams, squid, and big fat prawns. (A finger bowl of warm water was provided).
This was a perfect Pizza, thin base, thick but soft crust and the flavours of the seafood turned a simple dish into a gourmet treat. I did actually eat a few slices by hand!
I am not the only one who love the very special pizzas here. A recent Trip Advisor diner wrote, “Simply the best pizza we’ve had, by a margin”.
Over supper, I loved the background music soundtrack – chillout, funky jazz, popular classics – to create the right mood day to night. Whenever you may plan to visit, you are sure to be greeted by Mr Benouari and his smiling staff and enjoy a superlative Italian meal. I shall be back soon.!