Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Little Italy, Byres Road, Glasgow
When you are related to the founder of legendary Edinburgh delicatessen Valvona and Crolla, it's safe to assume you will know a thing or two about great Italian cuisine. Opened in 1994 by Remo Crolla (his great uncle was the brains behind V&C), Little Italy is now something of an institution in Glasgow's west end, serving delicious and unpretentious food at very reasonable prices. Take-away is also available.
Situated at 205 Byres Road, Little Italy attracts a varied clientele and is especially popular with hungry students (Glasgow University is two minutes away) at all times of the day and night, as the restaurant is open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Sit at the marble counter at the window and do some people watching, and the slightly uncomfortable stools will soon forgotten as you peer at passers-by.
The marble counter is the centrepiece of the eatery, but customers who don't fancy perching on stools can eat at tables near the entrance, but these are snapped up quickly.
Wine and huge bottles of champagne line the walls, and customers can also buy other treats including olive oil and pasta if they want to take home some real Italian food. The decor is slightly tacky (plastic ivy dangles from the walls painted with murals), but endearingly so, and the general atmosphere is one of cosiness.
After ordering, customers are handed a 'pizza pager' which buzzes and flashed red when their food is ready, a rather ingenious invention more restaurants should incorporate to save staff the trouble of hollering at customers.
If you are going to order pizza or a portion of pasta there is really no need for a starter as they are so filling, but the bruschetta makes for a tasty opener for those feeling particularly peckish. There is also garlic bread, plain or topped with mozzarella.
If the 27 pizza toppings don't appeal, the vegetarian pesto lasagne, made with green beans, broccoli, garlic, tomato, red onion and courgette is creamy, rich and filling. Also on offer for those having a party or just feeling particularly ravenous is the Pizza al Metro, measuring almost one metre for groups of four to 10 people.
Also stocked is the Italian fruit cake panettone, which is sourced from Verona and comes with cappuccino, amaretto or chocolate cream filling, as well as traditional flavour. Little Italy's home-made tiramisu is hugely popular, and only £2.50 per portion, so sells out very quickly. Other sweets available are custard tarts and chocolate crispy squares, which are tasty if slightly soggy.
Depending on how gluttonous you feel, there are three types of hot chocolate to choose from, including deluxe and 'thick Italian hot chocolate', or knock back a cup of delicious espresso.
See www.littleitalyglasgow.com for current menu and prices.
Little Italy is at 205 Byres Road, Glasgow. There are frequent buses running through Byres Road to many other parts of the city and the Glasgow subway station in Byres Road is Hillhead. See also Little Italy's own Web Site.
"A taste of Italy brought to Glasgow's West End" is the motto of Little Italy, and in a part of town chock-a-block full of Italian eateries, Little Italy stands out from the crowd thanks to its fuss-free attitude to food and unpretentious style. Service is fast and friendly, the atmosphere informal and welcoming. The only down-side of Little Italy's popularity is that it is sometimes not the most relaxing place to dine, but quality is always guaranteed.
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