Battlefield Rest, Battlefield, Glasgow
Sitting in the middle of the road, atop a roundabout in a converted bus shelter, is this ‘local’ Italian restaurant. I remember when it was a bus shelter with a little newsagent’s kiosk stuck on the side. On my way to catch the bus home from primary school, I often bought cigarettes here, St Moritz, on which I would puff away like a dragon whilst seated in the smoking area upstairs of the double decker before necking some seriously strong mints in a vain attempt to prevent my mother busting me. She always knew. Ah the good old days; when children could buy fags and openly fire them up whilst riding public transport. I no longer smoke or travel by public transport, for the record.
I’d only eaten here once before, long time ago, and being truthful can’t remember thinking I wanted to rush back. Recently, I’ve only heard praise for the place; food and service, so when invited by friends and family I was delighted to jump in.
There’s a lovely warm atmosphere, similar to an old fashioned bustling eatery in a NYC Mafia movie where you wouldn’t be surprised if the guy on the adjacent table was whacked as you twist spaghetti with your fork. The waiters were right on the job from the minute we arrived, informative into the bargain. I was delighted to discover they sold Moretti Zero, a very decent alcohol free version of this fine Italian lager. Designated drivers and recovering jakeys, I’m one, are so often told, “we sell ginger beer”, bloody twats.
I had a starter of ‘Bubbling Pot Salciccia and Barley’; Italian sausage and pearl barley in a tomato sauce’, for me this was the weakest dish. I am such a fan of Pietro’s pork sausage, made for decades in Glasgow’s East End, I found this version whilst pleasant a trifle underwhelming. The other starters were very well received, Crostini Bonco with smoked mussels, bacon and prawns in a cream sauce and the Prawns and Smoked Salmon served with asparagus and a roast pear hit the spot. Worth noting are the very fine breads, we shared two large Schiacciata Monferrato; outstanding, this bread was laden with caramelised onions, garlic olive paste and a grove full of olives. Not a morsel of food was left on our plates.
I couldn’t resist the Pork Milanese and asked for spaghetti with meatballs as a substitute for the amatricana, which is their suggested accompaniment. Brilliant choice Guy, the pork was light, moist, with a crisp crumb and full of flavour ; an excellent example of how this should be served and the spaghetti just nailed it. The meatballs were soft, meaty and delicious. This was Italian comfort food to my liking. How often I’ve been served with meatballs; dry and tasteless dods of unidentifiable flesh which made me think I was a celebrity tea-bagging a dead camel, not these for sure. I asked for my spaghetti ‘al dente’ and that’s what was served. I do think it’s a nonsense that in Scotland it’s safer to request this rather than leave it to chance and some lazy git who thinks it’s acceptable to serve pre-cooked spaghetti. I’m not suggesting that happens here, I just always ask in case.
I wasn’t the only pest at the dinner table, Clair ordered Linguini Scozzesi but swapped the linguini for pappardelle. She said it was delicious but wished there had been bigger chunks of Arbroath Smokie in the dish, I agreed, it would have made a lovely plateful even better. As has been customary on these trips, we had a vegan in tow. Help Ma Boab, what do we do to them? She had Cod Gnocchi.. A substantial fillet of firm fleshed white cod fillet on top of crab meat and basil flavoured gnocchi. It was gone before I could say, “hope you know that once had a pulse.” Chicken Montanara, Peter’s choice, was quite an old-fashioned style plate. A chicken breast wrapped in Parma Ham and served in an onion, tarragon and white wine sauce was reminiscent of meals served to me in the great L’Ariosto many years ago. I do wonder why anyone cooks with Parma ham though, may as well just use some roasted gammon or pancetta, as surely the delicate sweet taste of the Parma ham dies in the cooking. Despite this, there wasn’t a smidgeon left and Peter gave it double thumbs up. All clean plates again which considering the enormity of their portions was incredible. You will not leave here hungry, that’s for certain.
I had to force myself on an ice cream, vanilla and Turkish delight in my bowl, others had chocolate, honeycomb, salted caramel and tablet. All very good and from a local ice creamery.
The service throughout our visit was faultless, on top of a great ambiance and thoroughly enjoyable food, I most definitely will be back again. It’s not Locanda Locatelli but that’s not their target, they are a smashing local venue offering many reasons not to bother journeying into the city centre. No one got whacked. Bravo…
Pane E Vino, Giffnock, Glasgow
From the mighty dynasty that once was Fazzi Bros on Clyde Street is borne this charming Italian delicatessen in the heart of Glasgow’s Southside. Owned and run by Piero Sarti, brother of Sandro and a grandson of the Fazzi family who kept Italians and more ‘continental’ fashioned cooks in the West Coast of Scotland up to their natiche in pasta, Parmigiana, olive oil and tomato purée.
After a very successful partnership operating Sarti’s restaurants with his brother, Piero decided that in his silver-fox years he would launch another business, why go quietly when you can give yourself some additional stress?
Inside this very Italian shop you’ll find almost everything you may possibly require to prepare any recipe in Elizabeth David’s glorious cookbooks. Jars of Mutti brand tomatoes, fresh San Marzano tomatoes from Sicily, single estate cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, (what’s an extra virgin anyway?), cheeses, meats, sausages, breads, saffron and a fabulous selection of Italian wines, hard to equal never mind better elsewhere, all craving your attention.
I have known Piero since we were teenagers, sowing our wild oats on Saturday nights then praying for crop-failures on Sundays. Nowadays we’re sowing the buttons on our shirts that popped off after ridiculously enormous bowls of spaghetti.
Whether dropping in for an espresso, note not an ‘expresso’, a sandwich, antipasti, bowl of pasta, chicken Milanese or something sweet this place is truly a gem. There’s only a few tables so you’ve got to get in quick.
They are very happy to make bespoke pieces for me; a focaccia crammed with mortadella, Parma ham, Milano salami, sundried tomatoes, Italian pickles, Taleggio and maybe some anchovies for good measure, is a favourite of mine. You must try it. Don’t be shy, just say “you make it for Guy,”
Look out for the theme nights, delicious regional cooking served by charismatic waiting staff for not a lot of money.