If I had to pick just one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life (god forbid) I’d probably pick Italian. Pasta has been my go-to food for as long as I can remember, and I am a long time lover of carbs. There is no shortage of brilliant Italian food in Glasgow, so I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out, but I think I have a new favourite in the shape of The Italian Kitchen on Ingram Street. I was invited along for an evening of delicious Italian food and excellent chat with some lovely Glasgow food bloggers – Alison, Claire, Esther and Lis – last week and it was honestly one of my favourite blogging events this year.
The Italian Kitchen first opened back in 2003 in the heart of the Merchant City, situated in the building that housed the original Mitchell Library back in 1877. As such, you’d imagine it would be a building full of that typical Glasgow charm, and it doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant underwent a swanky refurbishment at the start of 2017 and the result is a beautifully welcoming, warm and open restaurant.
As we were handed our menus, I was completely blown away by the sheer size of their offering. The Italian Kitchen is all about using the freshest and best ingredients around, with all of their sauces, breads, doughs, pastas and desserts made fresh in-house on a daily basis. Everything is freshly made in their kitchen, and it shows. The Italian Kitchen wanted their customers to compare their offerings to the food you would find in Italian restaurants, as opposed to those in Glasgow. Their passion for brilliant food is obvious, and boy does it show in their dishes.
Whilst we were perusing the options we were served a selection of beautiful fresh foccacias and soft, crusty bread and oil. I’m a big fan of foccacia, and the trio we were served did not disappoint. Each one was perfectly seasoned and the ideal light bite to start off the evening. I loved the classic rosemary foccacia, but the stand-out for me had to be the Foccacia Al Pomodoro which was smothered in the juiciest cherry tomatoes I’ve ever tried. I’m not normally a fan of tomatoes outside of sauces or soups, but recently I’ve started to come round to them and I think this number really set the standard. I’ve been dreaming about eating it again ever since, it was that good.
For my starter I was tempted by another helping of those beautiful, crisp tomatoes with a bruschetta, but instead I was lured in by the thought of crisp calamari. As envious as I was when Lis was served her beautifully presented bruschetta, piled high with topping, my calamari was really fantastic. Despite being battered and fried, the calamari was beautifully light and flavourful without feeling at all greasy. My portion was served with a spicy Siciliana sauce which added the perfect amount of kick without being overpowering.
Again, I was torn when it came to my choice of main, too. I loved the sound of the Bucatini All’Amatriciana with pancetta, onion, and spicy sausage served in a creamy tomato sugo alongside an intriguing hollow spaghetti, and was also enamoured with the thought of Spaghetti con Filetto which involved strips of fillet steak again in a rich tomato sugo. In the end, however, I decided to go for the Penne Pollo, Pancetta E Pomodoro and I certainly was not disappointed with my choice.
What arrived was a huge bowl packed with penne, tender chicken, crispy pancetta and juicy cherry tomatoes in a garlicky white wine sauce. The flavourful meat and tasty sauce were brilliant alone, but adding in the tangy cherry tomatoes just brought the whole dish together and made for a fantastic combination. I shouldn’t have written this post before lunch because whatever I make now will not compare!
After scoffing our mains, we headed over to grab a seat by the kitchen for a ravioli making masterclass. Chef Raphael was an absolute pro, as to be expected, and made it look ridiculously easy. I have a feeling that if I attempt it myself it won’t be quite as graceful! We were given a portion to take away which sorted out my Sunday night “what can I make for tea” dilemma, and although asparagus and ricotta wouldn’t be a combination I would have chosen myself before it was absolutely delicious.
Although I was absolutely stuffed, I was hardly going to turn down the chance to sample my beloved tiramisu, and the theme of delicious dishes continued. The Italian Kitchen’s serving of this absolute classic was perfect, with a light fluffy marscapone cream perfectly complimenting the coffee soaked sponge. A good tiramisu is a sign of a good restaurant in my eyes, and this was an excellent way to round off a fantastic meal.
I’m already planning my return visit to The Italian Kitchen as I was, simply put, blown away by the mouthwatering food and heartwarming hospitality. If you’re looking for delicious Italian cuisine in beautiful surroundings be sure to check out the swish refurb and jam packed menu – you won’t regret it.