I have a true love affair with Italian food. I eat it a lot and there’s always an Italian restaurant on my short list for where to go for lunch or dinner. Such is my obsession that extra virgin olive oil, good quality balsamic vinegar, garlic, lamb & fresh seafood would make up the main ingredients to my last meal, maybe with a bit of pizza or focaccia thrown in. The fresh ingredients coupled with the rustic approach wins me over every time.
As with most things, I tend to break down Italian restaurants into categories for ease of making a selection. The three main ones are meaty Italians, pizza Italians and everyday Italians but some places fit into more than one home. The latter category has recently been filled with visits to Celinos and Soho, due to to the closeness of Celinos to my flat & the excellent value of Soho. My go-to meaty Italian is La Lanterna but I’m planning a visit to La Parmigiana soon. The Italian Kitchen on Ingram Street falls between the meaty and pizza category, as I’ve had both there and both have been delicious.
The restaurant has been part of the Merchant City for a few years now – their website says four years but I’m sure we’ve been going there a little longer than that so it might just need updating. It was opened by the same people that have the nearby Italian Caffe but while the Italian Caffe concentrates on italian tapas like dishes, the Italian Kitchen has a large range of pizza, pasta, meat & seafood.
There is one massive draw that takes us back to the restaurant – their rabbit ravioli. Homemade ravioli is a rarity in restaurants and a relatively untapped market in Glasgow. Then if you put rabbit in a ravioli, you’re on to a winner for me…providing it has some flavour. We first tried the Italian Kitchen’s rabbit ravioli a few years back and I remember being absolutely smitten – dreaming about it for days afterwards. Thankfully, it is still as delicious today and is served in a starter portion of five pieces topped with peppery rocket. I always ask for cheese, which is of the fresh grate-at-the-table variety, because italian cheese makes everything taste better. The ravioli filling is rich and slightly gamey and the pasta is the perfect thickness. The dish is served with a game gravy, which complements the flavours of the rabbit and the rocket brings a fresh peppery element to the dish.
Rabbit ravioli £7.95
The ravioli is also part of one of their set menus, which seem to be on all the time, so you can get it with a main course for £17.95. Mr S went for the set menu but I went a la carte because I really fancied a pizza. I eventually decided on a simple pizza of tomato sugo, mozzarella, anchovies, olives, capers and extra virgin olive oil but asked for it without the anchovies because I find they can overpower the other flavours. Their pizza bases are crispy but doughy and one of the best that I’ve found in Glasgow for my tastes. I like that the high quality mozzarella almost blends with the tomato sugo so it’s just a creamy tomatoey goo and, on this occasion, I enjoyed the saltiness of the capers and olives.
Mr S chose the grilled fillets of seabass with lyonaise potatoes and fine beans and he admitted that he was slightly disappointed on first taste. It seemed somewhat a plain dish when it arrived with no sauce. There was a lump of flavoured herby butter on top but that was the only flavour injection. But as he made his way through the dish he commented on how he was enjoying it more and more. In hindsight, I think that the wrong sauce could easily ruin the dish and simplicity was better in this instance. The butter was not yet melted when it arrived so you can put on as much or as little as you want so the seabass can take centre stage. In the end the dish won him over and he was glad that he chose it.
Seabass (part of set menu A. two courses for £17.95)
We skipped dessert (again – I’m so proud of myself!) because I was full after my gigantic pizza, which they packaged up the last of so I could take home.
The staff were friendly and patient (we can never decide what to have) & I appreciated them running after me when I was walking past later on because I forgot my brolley!
Including drinks (a beer & two glasses of wine), the bill came up to about £50 so it was not ridiculously expensive and we had a lovely anniversary meal.