Italian-American Madonna famously wore a t-shirt in the 80s stating ‘Italians Do It Better’ and in the case of Remo Crolla’s second Glasgow restaurant, Panevino, this slogan rings true. It’s a marble-heavy two floor (ground and mezzanine) 60-cover Italian restaurant with an interior design that screams ‘built to last’ – much like Panevino’s older brother, Little Italy on Byres Road.
Panevino is on Argyle Street, in Finnieston, and it’s in good company next to the likes of Neighbourhood and The Crabshakk and, as Remo explains, this was a location that he’d been eying up for a while. He says, “I purchased an empty shell – no gas, electricity, water or shop frontage in the new build around 18 months ago. But despite all of this, I could see that Finnieston was evolving, with some really cool places that had all the makings of the new West End.”
There’s a sixteen-year gap between Little Italy and Panevino, as Remo isn’t one to rush into things or do things half-baked, as he explains, “I like to concentrate all my attention on one project at a time and for the money to start coming in before I start a new venture, and I prefer to do things properly and pay everyone involved before I turn my attention to anything new. Although it’s fair to say that this has whetted my appetite for getting my teeth into another challenge – and I’m still keeping an eye out for the right opportunity, although I doubt it will take another sixteen years.”
From its inception the project was relatively straightforward. The architect was Dominic Notarangelo of Padrino Design
and Remo collaborated with Catherine Wilson of Revamp Transition who, he says, “came up with many of the materials
and the colours.”
I spoke with Dominic Notarangelo and was keen to emphasise that the three of them had to box a wee bit clever with the space. He said, “The shape of the building dictated the vision that included a sense of space with lots of natural light and high walls. So there were no compromises. It’s not a huge space – only 1,250 square feet of floor space plus the balcony
– but it has the feeling of spaciousness because of the depth of the bar. It was a very straightforward process and as a client Remo was fantastic and he, myself and Catherine became the design team in essence. “
He continues, “There are some great technical aspects too –some future standards, like the plant room, and I’m sure that other licensees will be interested in hearing about this.
The reason being it’s a dedicated plant room to house all the fans and mechanical equipment, rather than being stuck in
a loft somewhere. This allows ease of access and ease of maintenance and this has spin-off benefits that will last a
number of years as well-maintained systems result in far less down time for licensees.”
Remo was also eager to bring his own global influence to the design – as well as some of the best aspects of Little Italy. He says, “I always wanted to create a spacious bar that customers could sit around – a proper food bar in other words. It’s in
essence an evolution of how Little Italy used to be, although that was a display counter more than anything else.”
He continues, “I do travel. I go to lots of restaurants all over the world and it’s fair to say that I’ve absorbed a lot of different design influences – particularly New York and Milan. In fact, I see the place having an atmosphere like a
Milan coffee house during the daytime, and in that sense I wanted it to be an elegant affair – and to move away from
the student market. At night it’s New York with soft jazz, dimmed lighting and lots of candles.”
As far as the layout goes, as soon as you walk in through the door you’re confronted by a deep, snaking bar at which
customers can perch, overlooking the Salumeria – or deli island. They dominate the ground floor space, taking up around 70 per cent of it. The remainder of the floor space has been utilised effectively to house some high tables and
chairs in front of the window, with some lower dining tables and chairs to the right of the bar, tucked away in the far
corner. The entrance to the toilets is also located there.
To the right of the entrance is a spiral staircase that leads you up to the mezzanine, which overhangs this area. The mezzanine is a long narrow space, which has a view onto the street via the front elevation, but aside from the view of the bar from the spiral staircase on the way up, the mezzanine itself doesn’t overlook the ground floor.
It is without doubt the Salumeria that is the beating heart of Panevino, and along with the bar that encases it, is what sets the heather alight and arrests your attention.
As well as haunches of meat and cheese, there’s also a honeycomb, and it is an interesting focal point for people
who sit on the dark green leather upholstered stools around the marble-topped bar, and Remo had a very
definite idea on what he wanted to achieve. He says, “Most places that I go to offer a mixture of antipasti that is not
what you have chosen. Here, I wanted customers to be able to hand pick a selection of meats, cheeses and grilled
vegetables, and pair it with some great wine. Although this is for dining customers only, as there’s no takeaway
element to the business.”
He continues, “There’s a great interaction at the bar – but it’s not too intrusive. There’s no-one hovering over
your shoulder and the customer is always one-and-a-half metres away from the server so that their space isn’t
invaded. There’s a wine display all around the top of the bar, with 50 wines covering the head to toe of Italy, and all
our food is sourced locally – including the honeycomb that comes from west end bees!”
A lot of natural light streams in from the huge walls of windows at the front elevation, next to the high posing tables opposite the bar. A cracked mirror feature takes up the left hand-side wall, while the walls have been painted
in a mushroom colour, apart from the right hand-side wall which is clad in marble – Remo’s a big fan of marble, as he
says that it lasts forever and ages nicely – and this is the wall next to the spiral staircase that takes you up to the
mezzanine, via a cluster of rather nifty silver shaded lights.
The mezzanine is a lot plainer in design terms with a row of dark wooden tables paired with the same green soft leather upholstered chairs and a servery. It only has 20 covers and its dual purpose is for day-to-day use as well as private dining and functions. It has a real sense of sanctuary, and being away from prying eyes, while at the same time not being too removed from the hustle and bustle of the floor below.
This is a subtle, well executed and classy design, with the odd bold statement, like the silver shaded lights, and I can
see it becoming a firm favourite with Glaswegians in no time at all. Also meriting a mention are the knife-shaped door handles, the handy work of Glasgow-based Al Blair, as these are a big talking point among the customers to date, and I’ve never seen anything quite like them. Although I have to confess that I missed them on my first visit, as I was too busy eyeballing the food on the Salumeria through the window.