There are those restaurants that just become part of the furniture - usually family run affairs that have been open for decades and offer consistent, comforting dishes.
They often become part of the community, as well as landmarks of the streets they’ve called home for years. Glasgow has more than a few of these.
For every new opening, there’s a much-loved pub or restaurant where you wish the walls could talk. It’s always a big deal when any one of these closes, as it signals the end of an era.
One of these restaurants was La Parmigiana, which was located on Great Western Road from 1977 to 2016.
A classic Italian restaurant, it was run by Angelo Giovanazzi, and served great pasta and featured an all Italian wine list.
It was the haunt of some famous faces and, when it closed, it was hard to imagine this spot in the west end without it. Luckily for Italian food fans, La Lantarna opened in its place - a modern venue and menu that also attracts famous names.
But for those keen to follow the Giovanazzi story, they’d need to look further up the road as Stefano Giovanazzi along with two head chefs from La Parmigiana, opened Caffe Parma in 2015.
Located on the site of the Western Tennis Club, this low, glass fronted restaurant with terrace overlooking the busy courts, is a modern take on the classic La Parmigiana and has been a busy spot in the Hyndland neighbourhood for almost 10 years.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, it always appears to be a family-friendly restaurant but it’s on the sunny summer’s days where it becomes packed, thanks to that terrace, which gets the sun all day.
During the covid restrictions, the team built a cover and installed heaters, meaning diners could eat outside in all weathers. They also welcomed dogs outside, making the welcome complete for all the family.
We decided to try and book an alfresco table during the early September heatwave on, hilariously, the only day where it rained despite a clear blue sky that morning.
We were successful (and glad for the cover). It was filling up inside and out, despite the showers, during an early Saturday night sitting.
The menu, which is split into starters, pasta, pizza, secondi, sides and desserts, has all the classic dishes you might expect from an Italian restaurant in the UK - bruschetta, tagliatelle ragu, calzone and tiramisu.
There’s also additions you’d expect from more recent food trends, such as spaghetti cacio e pepe, mozzarella sticks and burrata.
After ordering wine - chilled glasses of white and rose - we decided to share the starter special of cicchetti - venetian small plates designed to share.
These were crostini polenta, honey and walnuts, prosciutto and melon, and goat’s cheese, ricotta and pepper tart (£5.20 each or three for £15).
These were served on a long wooden board, alongside our side of rosemary focaccia (£7).
The large cube of golden yellow polenta had a generous swirl of honey on top along with toasted whole walnuts and a small mound of blue cheese.
The combination of the sharpness and earthiness of the cheese, sweetness of honey and bitter crunch from the walnuts gave a burst of flavour to the soft centred polenta, which isn’t known for its taste.
This dish was strong in flavour but a small enough portion that it wasn’t overpowering.
The tart was another generous portion with a sweetness from the red peppers and balsamic glaze, which mixed well with the pepperiness and heat from rocket topping.
All of this was encased in light pastry - soft rather than traditional shortcrust. The three fans of melon were very ripe and juicy and paired classically with the saltiness from prosciutto.
The focaccia had a crisp crust and soft inside and was dotted with full sprigs of rosemary and a generous sprinkling of salt. The addition of high quality olive oil and balsamic were welcome to dip the bread into.
For mains, we both chose pasta. I went for the spaghetti gamberoni (£19) while across the table it was the linguine granchio (£21) that was ordered.
In the gamberoni, thin strands of spaghetti were mixed with a generous number of king prawns, half moons of courgette and squidgy cherry tomatoes.
The prawns were sweet and meaty, and not overcooked, while the pasta was al dente and delicious. The tomatoes and courgettes were as well cooked and not too soft or hard.
The linguini pasta was also nicely al dente, with a very generous portion of crab especially for the price. The sweetness of the crab and thickness of cream balanced with sharpness of cherry tomatoes which cut through the richness. There was a little kick of chilli but not too much. Overall a decadent and large portion of pasta, both of which we finished despite the size (and mopped up the sauces with the rest of the bread). The carb overload meant no space for dessert though I was keen to try the tiramisu or affogato.
I was pleasantly surprised by Caffe Parma, but given the restaurant’s ancestry it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a casual, friendly place to grab a satisfying and classic bite to eat come rain or shine…or both.
30A Hyndland Rd, Glasgow G12 9UP
0141 334 3811