I’m the daughter of a proud Weegie, writes Rosie Morton. So, when I was growing up I was frequently regaled with tales of Glasgow’s top culinary institutions.
There is Jimmy Lee’s legendary Lychee Oriental; the perennial go-to, Ox & Finch; and the star-studded Cail Bruich by Lorna McNee (who is currently the only solo female to hold a Michelin star in Scotland).
But having never resided in the Dear Green Place, my ‘L’-plates remain fixed in place when it comes to culinary experiences in the city. In a bid to upgrade to ‘P’-plate status, I headed to Eusebi Deli, a fourth-generation family business in the West End that is known for its authentic Italian food, to try out their new summer menu.
It is hard not to be lifted by Eusebi’s cheery red awnings on Park Road, which transport its customers away from sandstone tenements to a sunnier, more colourful place. This feeling continues inside with traditional Italian décor, featuring wallpaper that is printed with nostalgic postcard images. A hand-written sign welcomes you through the door: ‘Food, family, life and passion’. (Watchwords that speak to the soul of this food-loving hack).
My gaze greedily met the olive oil, wine and panettone which lined the shelves, then latched onto the pastries, salads and brightly-coloured desserts which lay beneath the counter. The deli/restaurant/café-hybrid was teaming with a merry throng of customers, hungry for a Saturday night treat. (I noted that ‘Yesterday’s Lasagne’ – which is available on both the deli and restaurant menus – was a firm favourite).
Assistant Manager, Ryan Simmons beckoned us to our table which was nestled between a quintet of smiling retirees and a couple who were sharing a bottle of wine in a quiet world of their own.
Some carefully chosen ‘snacks’ and starters, selected personally by Ryan, arrived at the table along with a refreshing summer cocktail while we decided on our mains. First up was Ryan’s personal favourite: octopus carpaccio with olive, tomato, green bean, anchovy, caper and crispy potato (£14). The punch of garlic mixed with the tangy pop of capers was heavenly, and the octopus was sliced so thinly that it practically melted in the mouth. Even my plus one, who is apprehensive about seafood, surprised himself by devouring his first taste of octopus with enthusiasm. The dish itself looked like a work of art.
The following cacio pepe arancini with parmesan spuma (£2.50 per arancini) and crispy panko scallop from Tarbert (£9) were equally well received. The arancini was unctuous and savoury, while the scallop dish had been cooked delicately and was beautiful in its simplicity.
So, by the time our mains arrived we had already been buffeted by a tsunami of flavours from chefs who were clearly passionate about classic flavour combinations and fresh, seasonal ingredients. It was, however, our mains that particularly impressed, with the maccheroni nduja pasta with red onion, tomato, rocket and cream (£17) proving a particular hit. So much so, it has ruined all other pasta dishes for me. A hint of chilli provided just enough heat, and the cream cooled it back down, while strong hits of mellow, earthy fennel brought everything together magnificently.
The Roman sourdough ‘porchetta’ pizza with garlic cream base, apricot-stuffed porchetta, nduja and ricotta salata (£14) was mouth-wateringly savoury, and the balance of sweet apricot notes and spiced nduja was sublime. The accompanying watermelon salad with pecorino and mint (£7.50) was a lovely change of pace: clean, vibrant and juicy.
I have since tried recreating the maccheroni pasta dish at home, and my plus one has tried his hand at their focaccia. Sadly, neither of our attempts were worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, but points must surely be given for enthusiasm. If nothing else, it proves we were both so bowled over by Eusebi’s offerings that we wanted their food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Happily, Eusebi provide all three – they are open seven days a week from 8am-11pm, with last orders at 8.30pm).
We finished our Italian night the best way we know how – with a classic tiramisu (£6.50) – which provided the caffeine hit we required to roll home.
I’ve always maintained that my chosen ‘last day on earth’ meal would come from an Italian nonna’s kitchen. One trip to Eusebi Deli has convinced me that a slice of Italian paradise already lies on my doorstep. I only regret that I didn’t take Yesterday’s Lasagne home with me for a Sunday feast.
To find out more about Eusebi Deli or to book a table, visit their website.
Alternatively, follow them HERE on Instagram.
There is a dedicated vegan menu available on request.