Opened in 2019 in the ground floor and basement space in The Lighthouse Building, located on the corner of Mitchell Lane and Mitchell Street in the city centre, Sugo promised pasta dishes served as they are traditionally throughout the varying regions of Italy, from Lazio, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia, Abbruzzo, Campania, Piedmont and Lombardy.
Owners Paul and Audrey Stevenson were hoping to replicate the success of their Paesano Napolitana pizza restaurants on Miller Street and Great Western Road.
Opened in 2015, they’ve been the reigning champions of pizza in the city ever since, mainly due to the freshly made, thin based pizza and reasonable prices.
The same format is used in Sugo (meaning tomato sauce in Italian) - there’s a compact menu, a few specials and prices won’t break the bank, which is timely when we visit.
There’s almost always a queue, as you can’t book ahead, and inside the large, open-plan space with an open kitchen complete with marble counters for pasta making at the bottom, there's mainly long tables and benches with just a few tables for two.
These are turned quickly so you more than likely won’t wait too long, but it does mean Sugo has a buzzing, bustling atmosphere (it seats about 200 people) akin to the ongoing sales and general festivities happening in town - it’s the culinary equivalent of the Black Friday sale.
On the menu there’s a mix of sides that could be starters, meat and veggie pastas and about six desserts.
We ordered sides of Caponata, £5; a plate of parma ham, £7.50 and burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil, £6.90.
The thinly sliced, salty ham was a generous portion which we ate with the creamy, pepper topped burrata which was surrounded by half moons of vibrant tomatoes and large leaves of aromatic basil.
Both were fresh and lovely but it was the caponata - Sicilian aubergine in an agro dolce sauce served with toasted sourdough - that was the star starter.
The chunks of melt on the mouth aubergine was brought to life by the sweet and sour sauce with texture and crunch from the thinly sliced, well toasted bread, which had a trickle of grassy olive oil over it.
For the pasta mains we chose two specials - seabass ravioli in a lobster bisque with samphire, £15 and casarecce with aubergine in a rich tomato and basil sauce topped with ricotta salata, £10.50.
The large portion of casarecce, short pasta twists, was generously topped with slightly salty grated ricotta salata.
The slightly sweet tomato sauce was indeed rich (the type I can only dream of making at home) with soft chunks of aubergine.
Another dish with a good balance of sweet and salty, and perfectly cooked al dente pasta.
The ravioli was, like the casarecce, cooked well and al dente, and was served in a blush orange sauce that had just a hint of saffron from the lobster, which was not overpowering.
The fish filling was mild and slightly sweet and the topping of samphire added some crunch. For dessert we shared the crisp, creamy and decadent cannolo, filled with ricotta, and dusted either end with pistachio and chocolate, £4.50.
Despite the need to turn tables quickly, and the large, red neon digital clock (which gave me flashbacks to 2.22 A Ghost Story that’s just had its run in the Kings Theatre in Glasgow), we didn’t feel rushed out the door and even have a chance to chat to our waiter, who confirmed that they can welcome in around 6000 people in a busy day.
It might not be the stop for a lazy, long meal but there’s a reason that those numbers of people visit, and wait to eat here.
The pasta is fresh, well cooked and tasty. It’s a winning formula that’s well executed and that’ll no doubt be drawing people in long after the sales are over.