Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
6/10
Food
6/10
Total
0%
March 10, 2024

Assaggini, Glasgow, review - pizza and pasta small plates in funky new west end Italian restaurant

The latest addition to Glasgow’s Italian restaurant scene opened earlier this year. Rosalind Erskine went along to try the small plates menu.

It’s the age-old dilemma. When in an Italian restaurant, do you order pasta or pizza? Can you convince a friend or family member to go half and half? Well with Assaggini, a new Italian in Glasgow’s west end, you don’t need to decide.

Opened in February, Assaggini specialises in fresh pasta, gourmet ‘Pinsa’ style pizzas - small plates designed for sharing, and craft beers from Glasgow’s West brewery.

There’s a glass walled room with different kegs of West beer in it, in the stylish, colourful and massive, 180 cover space which is the site of Mozza pizza, which opened in 2020 and only lasted a couple of years before closing suddenly. The Glasgow site joins one in Edinburgh which opened in spring 2023 and is the latest brand from Viva Italia Group, the firm behind firm hospitality favourites Tony Macaroni, Doppio Malto UK, Mozza Pizza, Banca Di Roma and Nardini Cafe in Largs.

Assaggini, Glasgow, review


We arrive for a late-ish mid-week dinner and inside it’s relatively busy. The music, bright yellow wall panels and bar, pale pink button back banquette seating and warren-like layout give the restaurant a fun, party-like feel. It's certainly a modern and vibrant new addition to Glasgow’s long-standing Italian restaurant scene.

The extensive menu is split into pasta, fritti (fried sides), salumi e focacce (meat and bread), pizza, insalata (salads) and dolci (dessert) with a map of Italy (and Glasgow) showing where each dish originates or is inspired from.

Pasta dishes include fresh Paccheri Gamberi e Limone, Bucatini Amatriciana, Cacio e Pepe and Reginette Lamb Ragu. There’s also a signature Fettuccine Grana e Pepe served in a parmesan wheel, which is becoming more and more customary in new Italian restaurants.

Pinsa style pizzas, inspired by the different Italian regions which are served smaller in size come with a variety of toppings all sourced and inspired by different regions in Italy including fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella, Datterini tomatoes and Sardinian sausage.

Each pasta and pizza on the menu has a suggested beer for pairing and sides including aged Parma ham, Calabrian ventricina salami, arancini and croquettes are also available and are billed as perfect for table sharing.

It’s recommended that you order two to three dishes per person so we choose two pizzas, two pastas, a salad and a focaccia. I opt for the Radiatori Norma - radiator shaped egg pasta, san marzano tomato sauce, fried aubergine, ricotta salata Siciliana and fresh basil (£8) and the liguria pizza (£8.50).

While my boyfriend chose the girasoli pistacchio e tartufo - filled sunflower shaped pasta stuffed with fresh ricotta, and Umbrian black truffle, served with butter, sage and pistachio di bronte (£12.50) pasta and the calabria pizza (£8.50).

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We shared these along with focaccia with wild garlic butter and grated Grana Padana (£5.50) and La Bufala - Campania buffalo mozzarella with Cantabrico anchovies, red Datterini tomatoes and evoo (£8). First to arrive was the buffalo mozzarella salad and focaccia.

The cheese - a white, firm ball - was swimming in a sea of garlic butter surrounded by half moons of bright plum tomatoes.

A nice mix of richness from the cheese and freshness from the tomatoes, the overall taste was from the garlic butter. The bread, (which we’d ordered with dips of spicy mayo and pistachio mayo that turned up late from our apologetic waitress and added nothing but sweetness from the pistachio option) was a good size of pillowy focaccia, topped with more garlic butter and shavings of cheese. This was more well balanced with the butter soaking nicely into the bread.

Once these plates were cleared we were served the piping hot pasta. The radiator style pasta held onto the tomato sauce well and was an all round fine option, if lacking depth of flavour from the san marzano sauce. The round discs of the nicely al dente girasoli were served in a thin buttery sauce, and stuffed full of the fragrant truffle filling - and topped with some pistachios.

After this, the pizzas arrived - the calabria sourdough base topped with san marzano sauce, fiordilatte, spinata calabrese, salami, spicy nduja calabrese, honey and evoo. This rich mix was cut through from the nduja while the crusts had quite a yeasty flavour.

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The liguria pizza was topped with fiordilatte, tiger prawns, fried courgettes and lemon zest. A tomato-less pizza usually means something quite rich, but this wasn’t too bad thanks to the hint of lemon. There was some sweetness from the prawns but it was lacking something with bite or heat.

Desserts range from tiramisu to soft serve ice cream, cheesecake, affogato and panna cotta but we didn’t indulge as we were too full.

There’s no doubt Assaggini is a fun new addition to Glasgow’s dining scene and I can see it being popular with groups of friends heading out to the bars in Ashton Lane or beyond, as well as families.

The small plates make it easy to try a variety of different dishes, and the beer pairing is something a bit different. Our food was a bit of a mixed bag, with most dishes lacking some flavour - enough to make the meal quite forgettable. Not the best in a city with so many other Italian restaurants.

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Tags:
Assaggini, Byres Road, Glasgow, UK
Assaggini, Byres Road, Glasgow, UK, G12 8UD
0141 739 9355
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
6/10
Drinks
7/10
Food
6/10
Service
7/10
Value
8/10
Total
0%
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