Notes on inaccurate use of face masks. The reason some people are wearing them underneath their noses must be so they can smell what’s cooking at all the newly reopened restaurants.
While those who sport them under their chins are trying to catch crumbs, like Mr Twit, but without having to cultivate a beard. We packed ours (masks, not the facial hair, that’s sadly pre-attached) for our entrance into a bricks and mortar restaurant for the first time in months.
Back in March, Paolozzi Restaurant & Bar closed after barely a week.
One minute they were excitedly posting photographs of the Surgical Instrument Makers ghost sign, which had resurfaced as part of their refurb, the next they were suturing the door shut. My invitation for the opening night was popped sadly into the Trash folder. Since, then, like most people, I haven’t been out much.
These days, I have different shoes on each foot and communicate with grunts and clicks. I use a sharpened stick rather than a knife and fork, and throw peelings and scraps on the floor. It’s all gone a bit Budongo Trail.
Thus, it was time for a bit of life enrichment, thanks to this partnership between Edinburgh Beer Factory, who make Paolozzi Lager, and restaurateur Gino Stornaiuolo, who also owns Nonna’s Kitchen at Morningside.
In this space, with prints on the walls and an industrial-looking mezzanine area, they’ve efficiently implemented appropriate health and safety guidelines. Thus, there’s hand gel at the door, a one-way system, Perspex panels between tables and you can order food on your phone, to minimise contact with the staff, who are all wearing PPE. You couldn’t feel safer if you were swaddled in cotton wool and bubble wrap.
It does, however, make the “sublime in the everyday” Paolozzi quote at the back of the space seem slightly ironic.
However, I’m sure Eduardo would have been very into the futuristic look. Vulcan would suit a visor.
We’re given a gratis glass of Prosecco as part of a deal of some sort, and this month they’re participating in the Eat Out to Help Out (a £20 menu for a tenner) scheme.We order after scanning the QR code with our phones, though you can also do things the old fashioned way.
Our starters were homely, reminiscent of the heart-coddling grub at Nonna’s. The pair of basil-topped smoked scamorza and Parmesan arancini (£6) were speared by toothpicks, each with a bit of basil threaded on like the receipt on a memo spike. Their interiors were subtly flavoured, most of the punch coming from a sweet bank of sugo.
I’d gone for the Shetland-farmed mussels (£8) in a tomato broth that was lightly buzzing with peperoncino. There was no social distancing amongst these guys, they were crammed into their big black pot, shell to shell and foot to foot.
On lockdown, I’d sampled this place’s collection and delivery service and been totally smitten by a pizza topped with mortadella, ricotta and pistachios. It’s not on the menu today, so I tried the pizza patate salsiccia (£10.95) instead. I wonder if they use a spirit level to get their mozzarella just right here. The consistent application makes for a very even and satisfyingly springy cheesy sensation, like walking on a mossy lawn. This blister-edged base was also topped with soft and starchy potato discs, rosemary, red onions and clods of Italian sausage. It was super filling, so I took half of it home using my under-chin doggy bag. (Only joking, they gave us a box, emblazoned with their blue Paolozzi design.)
Our pasta dish– spaghetti aglio olio (£8) – was a tangle of chilli heat, with chunks of walnut (the Whips had been cast side) on top, chopped parsley and a good hit of garlicky oil. A carb-loading winner of a dinner.
For pudding, there are classics like Luca’s ice-cream, tiramisu or panna cotta, but we shared a thick, slick chocolate and orange mousse (£6), its bubbly sweetness tempered by a blob of bitter orangey compote. Definitely a bit of sublime in the everyday.
I feel like I am now re-entering civilisation, one pizza and chocolate mousse at a time. n
61 Forrest Road Edinburgh, (0131-259 0047, www.paolozzirestaurantandbar.co.uk)