Pizzas @ Vespbar

Those not familiar with Vespbar might not even know it exists as it’s tucked away in one of Glasgow’s many lanes. It sits in Drury Lane, between Renfield & West Nile St. Vespbar prides itself on its authentic Italian Pizzas & availability of prosecco on tap – definitely a first in Glasgow!

I went along one Friday evening to sample some of the pizzas to see what the fuss is about. Inside Vespbar, there is a quirky Italian/American feel to the venue which is split over 3 levels – the main bar area with a surrounding upper mezzanine & a basement where regular comedy shows take place.

IMAG1356IMAG1358

We were taken to our table in the mezzanine & presented with our menus. These were cool as each menu is on the back of an old vinyl – Dean Martin in my case. We were asked for a drinks order but asked if we could see a cocktail menu first as one wasn’t present on our table. After asking three waiters later, we were finally presented with a cocktail menu, from which 2 of us went for one of the prosecco cocktails. I have to admit, the prosecco cocktails we ordered did not go down well. Both were an attempt of reproducing cocktails with the addition of prosecco which did not work. I’d stick to bubbles on their own!

As we had waited a while for the cocktails menu, we didn’t place a food order until around 30 mins after arriving. I decided to go ahead & order one of the pizzas. Another quirky touch Vespbar has is the half metre & metre boards on which pizzas & sharing boards are presented. The table behind us had a half metre pizza which allows 2 pizza choices from the menu & looked like more than enough pizza for 2.

IMAG1360IMAG1362

Our food arrived & the pizza looked like too much too handle as it was huge! I had opted for a pepperoni pizza & was not disappointed with the quantity of topping. The pepperoni also had a nice kick to it as it left a nice spicy afterburn. The pizza itself was not as overfilling as I first thought due to the thin base which also made it prone to falling apart when trying to take a bite! I would say that overall the pizza was nice but I would rather have more cheese. The cheese was limited to a small section on the pizza in the middle, leaving the majority tasting of tomato only. The portion of chips we had were a portion to forget. They arrived soggy & tasteless. They transported me back to memories of childhood meals with homemade chips that had been put in the deep fat fryer. I would definitely not recommend them!

Despite the chips, I do see me going back to Vespbar to try a half metre board (not alone!) but asking for more cheese! Definitely a good place to go for a post work drink & quick munch.

Barolo Grill

Barolo Grill is one of those restaurants that you pass often but never really pay much attention to given its location on Mitchell St, just off Gordon St. We ventured there last week for a belated birthday meal.

Knowing that it’s owned by the same people as Di Maggios & Cafe Andaluz, I wasn’t sure what to expect from here. I had fully expected a bog standard selection of Italian dishes. The menu, however, is pleasantly surprising with a modest selection of pasta dishes, with only one or two you would normally find on a menu in an Italian restaurant. The pizza combinations are a different take on the norm with frutti di mare (seafood) and braised beef with aubergine as a couple of examples.

IMAG0407

On ordering drinks, we went for a bottle of prosecco to celebrate the selling of my house. Priced at £23.95, the cheapest bottle of fizz is a good few quid dearer than most restaurants. Similarly, their house wine is priced at £5.75 for a large glass – not the most reasonable I have came across.

IMAG0408               IMAG0409

For starters we had king prawns with limoncello & mussels & clams with white wine & garlic. The amount of mussels & clams in the bowl could feed 2 people for a starter the portion was that massive! The shellfish was cooked perfectly, the clams being sweet & juicy. The king prawns did not twee as expected. Anyone who’s ever drank limoncello will know how tart a taste it is. So when the prawns were lacking in any lemon flavour, it was a bit of a disappointment. I would go as far to say it was more like king prawns with a slightly flavoured mayonnaise.

One thing I liked about Barolo was that you had a decent wait between meals. A lot of restaurants like to get you in & out as fast they can nowadays. I enjoyed the 10-15 minute wait between courses as it gives you a chance to enjoy the experience.

IMAG0411     IMAG0410

My main was described as large pillows of pasta which turned out to be their description of ravioli. The pasta itself was really fresh & full of flavour. The menu described it as being filled with meat but there was no meat to be seen anywhere on the plate. Having said that, it was full of flavour & deceptively filling. Al had rigatoni with Tuscan sausage which I wouldn’t normally enjoy as I’m not keen on Italian sausage. This dish changed my opinion. Instead of big chunks of sausage, it was cut up & mixed as part of the sauce so you weren’t really aware you were eating it. Instead it gave the sauce a really meaty flavour & given that there was a lot of sauce, it made a really nice dish.

Barolo may not be the cheapest Italian restaurant in Glasgow but you get what you pay for with dishes full of flavour. They also do a steak night on a Wednesday which starts from £30 for 2 rump steaks with sides & a bottle of wine to share. Definitely something I will go back to try to see if they live up to their name. Similarly, the pizzas I saw people eating were massive & looked like authentic stonebaked pizza. I would say if you’re al

Review: Amore

Amore has been a firm favourite with some members of my family for a while so we decided to pay the restaurant a visit. On arrival, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the restaurant, it’s perched on the far corner of Ingram St, off street level so you have to walk up stairs to get to the door.

It was apparent when we arrived they didn’t have our booking but the restaurant had plenty of empty tables despite sounding very busy. We decided to sit in the bar area as it was next to the window & I like to watch the world go by. One thing Amore is not short of is choices! The menu is absolutely huge, with over 10 options in the starters, pizza & pasta. Most of it is a variation of typical italian dishes giving the menu an authentic Italian feel. One dish that drew my attention was a pizza with cheese, italian sausage, chicken & red & green chillies which stated you got a free glass of wine on your next visit if you could finish it.

Our starters arrived & we were greeted with large portions. We had ordered hot chilli gambretti (garlic & chilli prawns on garlic bread) and mussels marinara accompanied with garlic bread. There were plenty of prawns, which is a big plus given you usually get 3 or 4. The sauce that the prawns were in was lovely, with a nice spice hit to it. The mussels were also a bit hit. They were big fat juicy mussels & plenty of them. The marinara sauce was pleasant, although no different from any standard italian restaurant. I also loved the bowl the mussels came in, a tilted white bowl, which made it easier to get the sauce the mussels were in.

When we ordered our mains, I had noted that the menu stated that they use “De Cecco, the finest pasta in italy” and it required 15 minutes to cook. What I hadn’t bargained on was that the 15 minutes was from when you ordered as our pasta arrived 5 minutes after our starters had been taken away. The mains were a big disappointment. The linguine was accompanied by a large number of prawns but the hot & spicy sauce stated on the menu was missing. Instead, it was relatively plain tomato sauce. Similarly, the chicken & pepper pasta did not taste of much. The main flavour from it was the roasted peppers & none of the “rich cream & tomato” sauce stated on the menu. From what I could gather, the restaurant appeared to be using the same sauce for most of their pasta but unfortunately, it is completely lacking in any flavour.

Given how quickly our mains arrived, the time taken for our meal after being seated was only just over an hour. I’m not a fan of restaurants who do not let you take your time between courses & feel they have to rush the next course out of the kitchen as soon as you are finished.

This visit was a tale of two halves, with the starters being a delight but the mains severely lacking in any flavour. Given the amount of Italian restaurants available in Glasgow, I doubt Amore would make the top 5. Saying that, I may be tempted to go back to try their hot pizza challenge one day!