Glasgow is a good-times city: Scotland’s best place for a night out. The local tendency to dress up for the evening is enhanced by the availability of Italian fashion labels, while the presence of prosecco on many cocktail menus simply adds extra sparkle and glamour. The city also does great Italian food, from quality caffès to fine-dining establishments, but don’t get the impression that Glasgow is all clobber, cocktails and cotechino alla Modenese. Italian art, cinema and opera also play a big part in the city’s cultural life, while some of today’s most talented musicians from this part of Scotland are justifiably proud of their Italian ancestry.
East of the city centre, Celino’s is an award-winning family-run café-deli that has served as an asset to its neighbourhood for more than 30 years. The food, from breakfast through business lunches to à la carte, is very much in a traditional style but executed to perfection, reminding diners why Italian cuisine got popular in the first place. Don’t miss the torta della nonna.
With three restaurants in the city centre, Fratelli Sarti is a bona fide Glasgow institution; its Wellington Street branch is perhaps the most intimate and atmospheric. It runs from breakfast through to dinner and also sells deli items to take home. As for authenticity, the cooking style comes from Liguria and Tuscany and the owners have Inter Milan season tickets. For branches in Bath Street and Renfield Street, see the website.
133 Wellington St
Tel: 0141 248 2228
La Parmigiana opened its doors in 1978 and since then has been regularly rated as Glasgow’s best Italian restaurant. From the cursive script on its exterior signage to the distinguished wine list and the rich red decor inside, everything suggests a traditional take on fine dining. It follows, then, that your venison with an intense ragù on polenta may not be cutting-edge but it will taste fantastic.
447 Great Western Rd
Tel: 0141 334 0686
This tiny Italian café only opened in 2012 but is already firmly established as a local favourite for its extraordinarily good coffee and brilliant sandwiches, savouries, ice cream and home-baked cakes. Friendly staff, quality ingredients and an authentic Italian approach combine to create the perfect informal café ambience.
102 Queen Margaret Drive
Tel: 07528 661 275
Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel is not specifically Italian but it has all the style of an Italian palazzo. Sitting among the Victorian station hotel’s marble pillars and interior design chic, sipping a cold flute of prosecco and pondering on some butternut squash tortellini as a bar meal, you can dream of sunnier places.
Grand Central Hotel
Glasgow Central Station
99 Gordon St
Tel: 0141 240 3700
A fine Italian wine bar in Glasgow’s Merchant City. The food here concentrates on small plates like veal and pork meatballs, or langoustine with garlic butter, all the better to accompany your selection of vino. The almost exclusively Italian list stretches to around 50 bins and has everything from glasses of something drinkable for under a fiver to distinguished bottles of red from Piedmont and Tuscany.
92 Albion St
Tel: 0141 552 3186
Fancy blending big flavours from Scotland and Italy? At this popular restaurant and cocktail bar, the bartenders have created the clever and rather brilliant Maple Scotsman: Auchentoshan Three Wood with apricot brandy, Martini Rosso, smoked maple syrup and orange zest. Amaretto and prosecco also play a part in the cocktail list – further temptation for Italophiles.
Tel: 0141 553 1488
An Italian wine merchant and deli with a twist, Vino Valentino imports draught wines from Italy, but you get to try before they buy. Once you know what you want, it’s bottled for you to take home. There is also a more typical selection of Italian wines and liqueurs, already bottled, while the store adds value with convivial evening language classes and lively socials, with live music, wine and snacks included.
6 Chancellor St
Tel: 0141 334 7762
A high-fashion boutique for men and women with two Glasgow locations, Cruise is a primary source for classy Italian labels. Here you’ll find fabulous colourful dresses, shoes, tops and trousers and timeless accessories by Dolce & Gabbana. There’s also EA7 sportswear for men and a lush range of items from Gucci for men and women.
180 Ingram St
223 Ingram St
Tel: 0844 332 5797
The Italian Centre is a contemporary, palazzo-style shopping arcade that aimed to be Glasgow’s mini-Milan when it opened back in 1991. Tenants have come and gone over the years, but Emporio Armani is a prestigious anchor for the site – this is the iconic brand’s only store in Scotland. Rather than a clothes shop, it feels more like a modern chapel of applied Italian aesthetics.
The Italian Centre
19 John St
Tel: 0141 552 2277
Glasgow’s Italian art
The Italian component of the city’s art collection has been described as one of the best, if not the very best, of any civic collection in the British Isles. With names like Bellini, Paris Bordone and Titian forming its core, its 190 or so paintings and drawings are held by a number of galleries across the city, but the sumptuous Kelvingrove is a great place to start.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Tel: 0141 276 9500
Furnishing Glasgow with Italian chic in the form of two-wheeled transport, Pronto Gara brings together cycling, design and style. The bicycle brands available here include ABICI with its retro functionality, and Taurus, a name backed by more than century of tradition and expertise. Pronto Gara, which means ‘race ready’, also offers a selection of cycle clothing and accessories, but those shiny Italian bikes remain the big selling point.
61 Parnie St
Tel: 0141 548 1256
Benedetti hails from West Kilbride, with an Italian father and a Scottish mother. She displayed a remarkable talent for the violin from an early age and shot to stardom when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, aged 16; a £1 million six-album record deal followed. Her Italian background often features in her music: she released ‘Italia’ in 2011, an album of baroque masterpieces, while later in 2015 she tours the UK with a show titled ‘Italy and the Four Seasons’.
See website for performance dates and venues.
Glasgow Film Theatre
The GFT is Glasgow’s arthouse cinema; it opened in 1974 and the first film ever shown here was ‘Roma’ by Federico Fellini. More than 40 years later, it remains the primary destination for anyone who wants to see Italian movies, whether old classics or more recent releases like ‘La Grande Belleza’, Paolo Sorrentino’s tale of regret and high society in modern Rome. The GFT is also a venue for Scotland’s annual Italian Film Festival (see website for details).
12 Rose St
Tel: 0141 332 6535
Nutini’s great-grandparents came to Scotland from Tuscany and one possible future career for the young Paolo was in the family’s fish and chip shop, the Castelvecchi in Paisley just outside Glasgow. Instead, pop music beckoned and his 2006 debut, ‘These Streets’ went multi-platinum. This summer he’s back in Glasgow for a huge gig at Bellahouston Park on August 29.
Glasgow is the home of Italian opera in Scotland. It acts as a base for Scottish Opera, often to be seen at the city’s distinguished Theatre Royal, dating from 1867. Giuseppe Verdi is the name of the moment; in 2014 his ‘Macbeth’ was one of Scottish Opera’s big productions and in 2015 the company is performing ‘Il Trovatore’ in Glasgow and on tour.
28 Hope St
Tel: 0844 871 7627