Paesano Unveils its New West End Restaurant
Paesano has unveiled its much awaited West End outlet on the site of the old TSB Bank on Great Western Road, and created an Art Deco inspired 100 cover restaurant. The site of the new Paesano – which more recently housed a Costa Coffee – joins the original Miller Street venue that opened in 2015. However the design couldn’t be more different, even though it has been designed by CM Design who also designed the original site.
Paesano’s owner, Paul Stevenson, hadn’t decided on a clear design vision for his second outlet until he saw the building. But with the help of Mark Brunjes of CM Design they came up with a design that really utilised the great architectural features that the original building had. Says Paul, “The building had so much design potential.”
The new West End outlet, borrows from the rich heritage of the Trustee Savings Bank, and still retains the original windows with the name of the bank etched into them.
When you enter you are greeted by Paesano’s now trademark lit sign, which takes up most of the facing wall. As the building had fallen into disrepair, a new entrance had to be created, and the eye-catching parquet flooring needed repair.
When I visited it was a nice spring day, and the three skylights and windows on the other two walls offered a pleasant natural glow. When darkness falls, three tall fluorescent lights – two at the door as you come in and two along the street wall., light the way. These, I am told are genuine ship’s lights that hail from the Ark Royal in the 30s, while five bell-designed hanging lamps reign over the pizzeria. While the others may be salvaged from a historic warship, these five hanging lamps travelled from Budapest for their role. The building also has four original stained glass skylights, which are lit with LED lighting when it gets dark. The result is a nice, contemporary contrast between old and new with art-deco and marble.
The marble Paul admits cost a fortune to bring from Italy, but he says, “I’m very passionate about authenticity, and I wanted this location to look like it’s always been here, so ensuring the skylights’ stained glass glazing was perfect, replacing the wooden panelling was very important to me and getting genuine Italian marble was essential.”
Two high posing bar-tables that would seat eight are matched with high captain’s chair backs opposite the front entrance. Clearly designed to create a waiting area – Paesano doesn’t bookings – this seating is in contrast to the mix of dining tables that are either topped with marble or dark wood. Each table has a captain’s-chair or a bentwood chair, in matching dark wood.
Around half the circumference of the restaurant, there are comfortable ribbed leather banquettes, in rich, ruby red leather, this aside from the lit sign, is the only other colour contrast. Behind the posing tables there is a long, marble fronted counter, used for the coffee machine, different storage and to house the drinks fridges and also their draught lager, Birra Moretti. A top the counter is a high shelving unit for wine, which still leaves ample room for the sign!
The restaurant can seat comfortably 100 but Stevenson is confident that he could squeeze in another 20, if needed. He says, “I really wanted to start with all the seats a decent distance away from each other, but as we progress, we may add more. Having different designs of seating adds to the impossibility to date the restaurant. ”
The back wall, to the right of the pizzeria, is white, with an inlet that is covered in white marble. The ruby red seating continues on this wall, with a mix of tables for four, six or eight. On the wall, as you approach the stairs to the toilets, there is a quirky, massive roll of brown paper hanging on the wall, which advertises Paesano’s desserts, changed and ripped off as the desserts change I am assured by Paul!
Transforming the disused building took a mammoth amount of work, with CM Design having to oversee nearly two months of construction work. An internal staircase was removed to create a fluid wall linking the wine shelves that face you when you walk in, to the open plan pizzeria kitchen. There are three pillars in the centre of the restaurant, and Paul admits that moving one of the original pillars and the stairs to create the kitchen area was a big job. He says, “That was where we wanted to have the kitchen, so we had to create a supporting structure to take away the pillar. Costa Coffee had never used the basement area, except for toilets, while we wanted to make a better use of it. We ripped out a lot of the adjustments they [Costa] had made.”
The new resulting stairs which lead to the toilets and basement is now on the far side of the room, and are painted pristine white, with Italian-inspired photographs lining the walls. Toilets apart, the rest of the basement is for dishwashing and storage, and its juxtaposition to the street entrance allows for deliveries during the day with little disruption.
The pizzeria sits behind a white marble fronted worktop with a glass splash back, and offers a good six foot by ten foot area for the team of chefs to work in and also for their trademark pizza oven which is clearly visible to the entire restaurant.
Paul’s unending obsession with all things Italian stems even to the cutlery holders that are made out of old tins of Strianese tomatoes, which are used on the pizzas. Everything bar the very fresh ingredients are sourced from Italy, clearly a throwback to his days of running The Italian Kitchen and Café, which he sold in 2003 and 2016, respectively.
In its first weekend, Paesano sold 3,500 pizzas and – as area manager Gerry Blues tells me as I’m waiting – their take away service is going great guns with over 300 takeaways in 3 days.
Not content with two bustling Glasgow’s Paesano’s Paul is already planning his first Edinburgh foray with a Paesano set to open there at the beginning of next year.