Sunday, March 8, 2009

That's amore!

I'm pretty thrilled because Gabriella landed yesterday for an entire week here in Glasgow. It's her Spring Break, and so I get her for the next seven days. What this translates to is lots of afternoons spent holed up in pubs, lots of meals out at restaurants I've been dying to try. Yesterday was nothing new for me, as we first cozied up in The Left Bank for late-afternoon snacks and drinks, before making our way over to Byres Road (I was out of cash) and popping into Common Rooms to escape the downpour, grab another drink, and most importantly, try to figure out dinner.

Glasgow, especially over here in the West End, in filled with restaurants and cafes. They might not all (or none,
I think) have Michelin stars, but it's definitely an area with good food. And last night, I was jonesing for Italian, of which there's a ton here in the West End. So we swing by all the major players on Byres Road, Paperino's, the new one Sputini, take a look at Prego, which recently opened on Dumbarton, and finally head into Lamora on Argyle, where a waitress gives a no-room-at-the-inn speech and a look that says, "You fools, who doesn't book ahead for our amazing restaurant on a Saturday night?" And the thing is, I'm actually kind of okay with the snub. The problem with all of the aforementioned Italian spots within a mile of my apartment, is that they all seem rather generic and unimaginative. They all have hip decor, cool lighting, and interestingly-shaped plates, but their menus are all so limited. We're talking five or six pasta choices, one or two meats. And very standard fare. Bolognese, cabonara, etc. Nothing that really got me excited for ITALIAN FOOD.

Our last resort w
as Villa Toscana, a little Italian place that's across from Tesco and SPAR on Argyle Street. I pass it every day. I've always said, "I should try it!" but never have. Last night, in the pouring rain and howling winds that render umbrellas useless, we popped in. And the second we did, I knew it was a good choice. This was an ITALIAN RESTAURANT. It wasn't a hip and trendy restaurant that served Italian food. It wasn't hip or trendy at all. But it was warm and inviting, the (Italian) owner was friendly and welcoming, and the food. The food! It was exactly what I wanted, a real Italiany Italian restaurant, with a menu full of pages of pasta and risottos and pizzas. It reminded me so much of my favorite Italian (and maybe just favorite) restaurant in Bethesda: The Pines of Rome. Just GOOD FOOD in a clean setting. With no funky wall decor or mood lighting necessary. Sometimes, you want a hip, trendy spot. Sometimes, you just want a good bowl of pasta. And we got that here. Gabriella had a spinach tortellini that was clearly homemade and fresh; I had a seafood risotto that was full of king prawns (the size of a computer mouse, no lie), fresh mussels, and squid. For two of us to get out of a restaurant on a Saturday night with great food and wine for under £40 is pretty impressive.

Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
I am really excited to have finally tried it.

Next up on our culinary tour of Glasgow: Two Fat Ladies, one of the city's top seafood restaurants.

is my kind of spring break!



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