Over the last few months customers have been enjoying a different class of pizza at the newly opened Paesano Pizza in Glasgow which is owned by Paul Stevenson, who also has The Italian. Until recently Paul also had The Italian Kitchen in the Merchant City but he sold it before opening his latest pizzeria in Miller Street.
He told DRAM, “I am so proud of The Italian Kitchen and I will always be but it was definitely time for a change. The thing is, people are price led and there are so many deals going on like ‘2-4-1’ and ‘Two meals for £10’ we supplied such a high class of Italian cuisine and just couldn’t compete with these prices. I fancied a change and Paesano Pizza is exactly what I was looking to move on to. I did keep hold of The Italian Caffe though.”
The new venue, designed by CM Design, has two large ceiling to floor windows (with the main door in the middle), the windows let in a great amount light to the restaurant. Each window has ‘Paesano Pizza’ printed in big, gold writing – you woudln’t be able to miss this walking past.
Another thing you wouldn’t miss is the lighting which hangs on the right hand side of the wall as you walk in the door. It’s a big, brass like frame that spells out ‘PAESANO’, filled with lots of large, bright bulbs. The bulbs are the same sort you would see attached to a star’s mirror in a Hollywood dressing room! This is the focus point of the whole restaurant and adds a really warm feeling.
It’s an open plan venue which extends to the kitchen. This means diners can watch the chefs hard at work and spy the pizza’s being prepared. The chefs are all speaking in Italian to one another which adds a really authentic touch. The flames from the ovens are visible which gives off a warm vibe. Paul uses the Gianni Acunto from Napoli Ovens, which cost £20,000. He tells me, “We only do one product – pizza. As we only do one thing, it needs to be perfect.”
The ovens are created especially for the art of cooking pizza and they follow a design which is nearly 400 years-old. Paul continues, “The great thing about the ovens is that they can cook a pizza in a minute! We keep the dough in the fridge for two days before cooking and it’s left to rise really slowly. This process breaks down the gluten and starch which means the pizza is soft, light and really easy to eat! It’s then cooked for 60-90 seconds in a hot wood-fired oven which adds to the authentic taste. We’ll be sticking to the characteristics of the classic Neopolitan pizza and as always, the most important thing to me is fresh, high quality produce.”
On the wall next to the kitchen, there’s a tall wooden frame which holds all the logs for the ovens (stacks and stacks of them). The rustic feel that both the logs and the oven flames give off adds to the Paesano charm.
The restaurant has 160 covers and there is bench seating throughout. The benches have a metal frame and well finished wooden tops. Each bench sits up to six customers with the exception of two long tables which run down the middle of the room. Rather than benches, there are 12 chairs around each table. Every table in the place has olive oil and old Italian tins on them, a nice touch.
The centre of left hand side of the room stands the bar. It is quite small and square shaped with six stools for customers. Behind the bar, there’s a tall, metal frame piled high with red wine. Actually, the only alcohol they serve is beer and wine, Paul says this is to keep the menu simple.
Paul described the place as having a bit of a ‘factory feel’. Infact, alongside the kitchen there is a space where customers can watch staff preparing the dough which is really popular with customers. Paul said there is a factory feel because the large metal pipes that run along the ceiling are all still exposed and the lighting has that industrial feel.
The interior is quite plain, not that it’s boring, it’s just not over complicated. The walls are white and there are some black and white prints, all placed in nice, neat rows. Next to the main door, there is a big print on the wall about the fresh ingredients and fresh produce that Paesano Pizza uses, this is cleverly situated as passers by will also be able to see this.
I asked Paul if there were any struggles along the way, he says “Not really, to be honest. The refurbishment took three months in total and everything pretty much went to plan.” I did wonder if the Italian restaurant, SoHo, would have been upset by Paesano opening up next door but Paul reassured me they weren’t, “The two places are very different. SoHo is a bar and Italian restaurant whereas Paesano is a pizza restaurant. There is definitely room for the two of us.”
What I like about this place is that you could nip in for a pizza while wearing jeans and a t-shirt but also start off your Saturday night there wearing a dress and heels. Paul confirmed this, “We appeal to all markets. During the day the clientele is mainly people working in the Merchant City. At night we have families, students, couples, large parties, anybody who wants a great pizza.” It seems that Paesano is living up to its translation ‘pal’ as a great place to dine with friends.