I don’t want to be the person who only saw Grease 2, not the original. Or Caddyshack II, the second series of Broadchurch, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, or who only heard the The Stone Roses’ second album.
I wouldn’t want to only understand a Creme Egg after they’d changed the chocolate, or have tried the re-sized Curly Wurly in miniature.
Apart from a few exceptions, original is usually best. So, when I heard that this year old artisan pizza place was branching out, with a sequel planned in the West End of Glasgow, and another in Edinburgh, I thought I’d better try the inaugural venue tout suite.
No bookings are allowed, so we rolled the dice on a weekday afternoon and, luckily, there were loads of free tables. It’s a huge space with an industrial feel thanks to white tiles, bench-like tables and bleached wood, with PAESANO written in lights on one wall, but it still feels warm.
Not literally, though that wouldn’t be surprising thanks to the brooding presence of their wood-fired £20k imported oven, which cooks their Neapolitan creations at an eyebrow-singeing 500C (within the the authentic temperature bracket as decreed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana).
As there aren’t any starters as such, we chose a few nibbly things from the On the Side section.
These included a huge bowl of marinated cerignola verdi olives (£2) – each the size of a cotton reel, plump and firm, with a squeaky texture and oily fresh tinge.
Our marinated artichokes and sun-blush tomatoes (£3) were like something from Heaven’s deli bar, while a creamy and stringy lump of burrata (£4) served with cherry tomatoes, evoo (extra virgin olive oil) and basil leaves made a rainy day in Glasgow seem a bit sunnier.
Pizzas were utter Ninja Turtle or Garfield bait.
I’d gone for the number three (£7) and it was like the scales fell from my eyes and all the youthful trauma of Findus French Bread Pizza fell away, and I realised the things a pizza could be. All the ingredients were there for a reason (not just slopped on as if this was some Italian version of a 3am munchie box).
There was the sweetness of the San Marzano sugo, whole roast garlic cloves and basil leaves, all of which contrasted with the salty depth of black olives, anchovies and capers. These were dotted onto a perfect soft and light buff-coloured base made from a hybrid yeast and sourdough that had been proofed for 48 hours (according to the menu). And not forgetting the Fior di Latte mozzarella – a bouncy dappled marshland of the stuff.
Our other choice – number five (£8) – was topped with loads of pale pink prosciutto cotto, triangles of portobello mushrooms that looked like pencil sharpenings thanks to their lead black gills, sugo, thyme, mozzarella and more evoo. It was just as good as number three, though earthier and burlier thanks to the toppings. Gorgeous.
There are only two American diner style puddings – “tart of the day” and/or soft ice-cream with various toppings – presumably because most people don’t fancy anything much after finishing off their crusts. (I usually leave mine, but I ate them up here).
The tart du jour turned out to be a dragon’s blood striped and berry-studded wad of dense raspberry cheesecake (£4), which was a good firm and fruity example of its genre. It came with a huge whirl of plain ice-cream, which looked like Mr Whippy out the side of a van, but tasted richer and more sophisticated than that.
So, it didn’t take long for me to get hooked on this particular brand.
I look forward to them branching out, I just hope that the new sequels are perfect reproductions of the original, or even better.
I’m thinking The Godfather Part II rather than Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. Fingers crossed.