Owners of this restaurant, Anna and Dean Parker, must be a romantic pair.
After decamping from London, where Dean was a chef at Darby’s, Sorella and The Dairy, they opened Celentano’s in Glasgow back in the summer. It’s named after a song by the eponymous singer-songwriter, Adriano Celentano, who they heard playing on repeat on their Italian honeymoon.
I take my old man to this restaurant.
“What’s our song?” I ask him. “I dunno. Ghostbusters theme tune maybe,” he says.
Very amusing. At least he didn’t go for There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma, Fat Bottomed Girls or Take Your Daughter to the Slaughter.
The word must have already spread about the Italian-ish food at this place, which is in Glasgow’s Cathedral House, beside the Necropolis.
Our booking was at 2pm, and it was still admitting a steady stream of late lunch-ers throughout our visit.
We could originally only get a bar reservation, but Anna, who was brilliantly working the front-of-house on our visit, takes us up to the mezzanine level, where she’s found us a table. It’s the best spot, so we can perch in the rafters, like a pair of wide-eyed barn owls, peering down on everybody’s plates. I feel that if we had fishing rods, we could hook something, and reel it up, or maybe I could lower my other half down there, like a diamond heist. You get the gist.
Anyway, though I may not inspire him romantically, the food here certainly does. He was in raptures over the Primi course of linguine, squid, black chilli, kombu butter (£12), and his lips were black with the deep, rich and salty sauce, with its soft cephalopod segments and granny’s knitting pasta tangle. Super savoury soul food, which transformed squid into the oxen of the sea.
“My best dish of the year,” he says. Oh, to inspire such passion. It’s like this offering was the black cat, and he was Pepe le Pew.
I’d gone for smaller nibbles from the Snacks menu - three crumbed pellets of lasagna fritti (£3), with a smooth porcini bechamel in the middle, and a feral tang from Cora Linn sheep’s milk cheese. There were also two smoked cod doughnuts (£3) - cold and springy, with a smooth cream cheese-y baccala-ish middle and kimchi and chives on the top.
Since they make their own vermouth in house, it’s also obligatory to try their negroni (£8.50), which feels medicinal against the cold outside, also with large measures of Portobello Gin and Campari. To remind me that we need to trim the clematis, he had a glass of the 2017 Secateurs Red Blend (£6.50), which they serve on tap at the bar here.
Most of their Primi dishes are also available in main course sizes, and there are just a couple of things on the Secondi list.
The Loch Etive trout fillet (£16.50) had the best piece of skin on it - like a crunchy and crispy sheet of hammered silver. There were also some wilted leaves of chard, with their stalks as brightly coloured as Christmas cracker crowns and a splash of balmy whey butter.
Our glazed slow cooked Dexter beef shin (£17), sourced from expert butchers MacDuffs, was another course that had been coaxed to savoury perfection. It was a big old block, topped with BBQ onions, green pepper and oyster dressing, for a bold, rich yet sweet and Marmite-y tang. This was presented solo, like the exhibit it was. However, they also offer a Free Company leaf salad and vinaigrette (£4), though we’d ordered a side dish of BBQ potatoes with olive oil (£4.50) instead, which were smoky and lovely.
We’d been delivered a knife as well as a spoon for pudding, as the vermouth glazed toasted honey cake (£7) was a chewy and malty thing, which had to be sliced so you could get at its runny honey and creamy innards. It came with a swiftly dissolving tonka bean gelato and a few soft cubes of pear. Oh my.
And we managed to share, so romance might not be completely extinct in my household. In fact, he left me the last bite.
Anyway, if you want beautiful modern Italian-inspired cooking in Glasgow, who you gonna call?
That’s right, Celentano’s.
28-32 Cathedral Square
(0141 552 3519, www.celentanosglasgow.com)
Places to try Nearby
Singl-end Cafe and Bakehouse, 15 John Street, Glasgow (0141 552 4433, www.thesingl-end.co.uk)
Head here for brunch or a lighter lunch, with dishes including croque monsieur with nduja, streaky bacon, Altamura bread and grilled emmental. There is a counter’s worth of cakes, as well as smoothies, including the Irn-Bru alternative of Cure Yer Heid, with berries, ginger and orange juice.
Santa Lucia, 68 Ingram Street, Glasgow (0141 552 6233, www.santaluciaglasgow.com)
This new Italian restaurant is doing a Buble Night on December 14, which might be a reason to avoid it. Still, the set menu features baccala croquettes and risotto al tartufo.
If you’re after a less sophisticated take on lasagne fritta, you could try the chunky ones at this hip-hop themed pizza restaurant, where you can also get a Scottish BBQ pizza that’s topped with Buckfast sauce and cocktails with names like Mel Mel Cool J and Fix Up Buck Sharp, among other things.