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Restaurant Review: Nonna Said, Glasgow

This "bangin' new pizza bar" opened earlier this year

Published: September 11, 2021
Categories:
Food: 
7/10
Ambience: 
7/10

My Glaswegian granny called mandarin segments “goosies”, and, if I was dressed glamorously, she would say I looked “tricky”.

I feel guilty that I don’t remember many of her other expressions, but she’s been gone for a couple of decades now.

My husband’s gran also passed down a few useful phrases: “Carry me home, don’t bend me”, for when you’ve been especially well fed. Then there was the threat that, “all joints on the table will be carved”.

I don’t know what either of our nonnas, both born at the turn of the 20th century, would make of this place. I don’t think it’d inspire them to dust off their clip-on earrings.

In common with a few other new restaurants, it started out as a lockdown delivery business and opened its bricks and mortar premises in May this year.

The decor for this “bangin’ new pizza bar” includes a feature wall, with a grey-haired woman gamely roped into posing in a beanie and gold chains, with the words “Knock You Out” underneath, in a Sex Pistols album sleeve collage style.

I suppose it’s the west coast answer to Edinburgh’s pizza empire success story, Civerinos Slice. In common with them, there’s a playlist of Nineties hip-hop and R&B music. As I (quietly) sang along, I was amazed/horrified by my brain’s filing cabinet of obscure lyrics. I estimate that 78 per cent of the storage space in my cranium is taken up by the (only occasionally fudged) words to songs of the Eighties and Nineties. (Yet I can’t remember what last Saturday’s restaurant review was). My grey matter is the ultimate NOW compilation.

The development chef here is John Molloy, of other new and central Glasgow restaurants, the Duke’s Umbrella and Glaschu.

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His menu is not for purists. I don’t think I’ve seen takoyaki (£6.50) on any other pizza restaurant menu, but here we are, suddenly transported to an izakaya in Tokyo. These octopus balls were on the Suppli list, which also features Burn’s Balls (haggis-stuffed rice balls, whisky cream). I suppose they’re all breaded balls of comfort food moosh, from kibbeh to croquettes, wherever in the world they come from.

Surprisingly though, these were good - smoothly paste-like inside, toasty hot and decorated with a generous Party Popper-esque splurge of Kewpie mayo, bonito flakes and chopped spring onion.

Their set of three lasagna bites (£6) - scouring pads of tightly squished and softly disintegrating pasta, were a little less successful. They were slightly bland and sauce-less, though the garlic mayo helped lubricate proceedings, and there was a certain hungover and stodgy appeal.

The pizza toppings are pretty doolally. It’s like food as a Dada-ist art project. Stick some ingredients in a sack, do a lucky dip and see what we come up with.

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Since I was in for a penny, I went for the Scottish BBQ (£9), which presumably has a serving suggestion of lobster red shoulders, taps aff and disappointment. It was topped with a combination of Buckfast BBQ sauce, square sausage, bacon and spicy mince. There were also a few more bits of chopped spring onion, to cover its oily and meaty shame. The main flavour was the sweet and glossy fortified wine sauce, which clung like ectoplasm to the corners of Lorne.

The base was decent, though without the sourdough tang and chew that I enjoy. It was more bready, sturdier and crispier than that.

I think we both preferred the salt and chilli chicken (£9.50) number. It featured chunks of chicken that were very lightly battered (think 15 denier tights, rather than a puffa jacket), along with wheels of red chilli, more spring onion and a cross-hatch of pale yellow curried mayo.

We skipped pudding - tiramisu or zeppole - and had cocktails instead, since they’re a big focus in this place, which has a license until 1am.

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They came in glasses like fish bowls, each big enough for a shoal of neon tetra. Mine was the roc-a-fella fizz (£10), which was like a ramped up Aperol spritz, with Aperol, Cocchi Americano Bianco, honey, lime juice, bitters and prosecco. He skipped the Vanilla Ice and Ice T themed cocktails for something on their Nonna’s Gin Serves list. The Quintessential Italian (£8.50) features a measure of Malfy Gin Rosa, grapefruit tonic, fresh grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary.

Very civilised, though very strong. (My granny, whose tipple of choice was a small sherry at Christmas, would say I was tiddly, and she’d be right).

Anyway, this place isn’t quite a knock out, but it definitely has a fun (and tricky) appeal.

26 Candleriggs, Glasgow (0141 648 4848, www.nonnasaid.com)

Places to try Nearby

Glaschu, 32 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow (0141 248 2214, www.glaschurestaurant.co.uk)

The menu at this place is slightly more traditional than Nonna Said. They do a popular Sunday roast, brunch with buttermilk pancakes or, for dinner, their signature beef Wellington.

Paesano, 94 Miller Street, Glasgow (0141 258 5565, www.paesanopizza.co.uk)

If you prefer a more traditional topping on your Neopolitan-style pizza base, head to this place. Their toppings include Tuscan fennel sausage with sugo, mozzarella and EVOO.

Wilson Street Pantry, 6 Wilson Street, Glasgow (0141 552 0606, www.wilsonstreetpantry.com)

For coffee, lunch and light dishes, including avocado toast, olive and red pepper salsa, feta, toasted pine nuts and poached eggs, this seven-year-old cafe is always reliable.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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