From Italy to Scotland to Liverpool and then back to Scotland again. That’s the journey that the Crolla family have taken to recently open their new restaurant in Glasgow, Pellegrini, replacing Panevino on the Finnieston strip. There’s no relation to the well-travelled football manager Manuel Pellegrini – as far as we’re aware – rather it’s named after Maurizio Pellegrini who grew up in Puglia (the heel in Italy) and is now Executive Chef for the Crolla’s ‘Italian Club’ chain of restaurants in Liverpool.
The Pellegrini sign outside is brighter and bolder than Panevino’s and this look continues
inside. Now, rather than walking immediately into a dark marble and wood bar, the restaurant space has been opened up – the bar is pushed to the side and the room is filled with modern yellow and blue chairs, the walls are brightly lit – there’s definitely a more relaxed feel than before. Thankfully, the quirky knife-shaped door handles at the entrance have been retained, mind and take a look (but don’t cut yourself on them!).
We visited early evening on a Tuesday, expecting it to be quiet but there was already a mixture of guests seated: lone diners, couples, mums with children (there is a separate ‘Piccoli’ menu) and guys on a night out, knocking back the beers. The drinks menu covers a small selection of Italian beer and liqueurs, and mostly all the wine is Italian but it was the cocktail menu that caught our attention, covering pre-dinner aperitifs, signature cocktails and after-dinner digestifs. Naturally, it made sense to start with a couple of aperitifs: The Hugo Spritz: Elderflower liqueur, fresh mint, prosecco and soda. Alongside this came a Rosemary Fizz: rosemary and elderflower liqueur topped with prosecco.
The main menu is pretty large, covering many Italian staples, like Bruschetta (4 varieties), Borlotti and Cannellini bean stew and Spaghetti alla puttanesca, but there’s no pizza. There’s also a separate vegan and vegetarian menu, which makes picking out suitable dishes far easier than trawling through a full menu. Any pasta dish can also be made with a gluten-free alternative.
Back to the main menu and there’s a definite American influence. For starters, we had Baltimore-style Crab Cakes with a crispy coating, densely packed with potato, coriander, parsley
and chilli, served with lime mayo and dressed leaves. The heat from the chilli is mild, coming after each mouthful but we’re sure that a little more warmth would go down well in Glasgow.
Our other starter was the Zucchini Fritters – courgette, ricotta and Grana Padano parmesan fritters with tomato sauce and mixed leaves. Courgetteisfullofwatersoitcanbeachallenge to crisp up this type of fritter (we know as we’ve tried ourselves at home). These had a soft texture but were very tasty with a sweet and salty tomato sugo.
On to the mains and Lasagne, a classic. Layers of pasta with meaty tomato and creamy bechamel sauces. Order some of their rosemary focaccia for dipping. The Slow Cooked Ragu Pappardelle, a mix of tender beef, pork and oxtail with pappardelle. Firm, thick ribbons of pasta covered in a meaty sauce. No little bits of meat here, but chunks of beef and pork.
One thing you have to make sure is that you have kept space for pudding, the cheesecakes at Pellegrini are sure to become legendary. They change daily and on our visit it was Nutella. After Eight and Limoncello has been on special before, so we might just have to go back just to check.
We also picked the Apple and Raisin Cannelloni as it sounded a bit crazy. These are crepes filled with apples, raisins and rum served in a bubbling toffee sauce with candied nuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We had visions of cannelloni tubes filled with apple and raisins and wondered how that would taste like never mind look? As you can imagine, they were seriously sugary. One of those desserts that you need to lie down after, and maybe sleep for a week to recover from.
Pellegrini, 1075 Argyle St, Glasgow, G3 8LY
Wide cocktail selection
Neighbourhood restaurant vibe
“MAKE SURE YOU
HAVE KEPT SPACE
FOR PUDDING AS THE CHEESECAKES AT PELLEGRINI ARE SURE TO BECOME LEGENDARY.”