Walk into the La Vita Group’s new £800k Glasgow restaurant, La Vita Spuntini Gordon Street, and what looks like a cherry blossom tree recreates a bit of outside inside, cheek by jowl with Game of Thronse-y medieval banquet style circular candle chandeliers hanging in the window. Then there’s the wall mounted black metal sculpture on the exposed stone wall, commissioned by Andy Scott’s people (the guy behind The Falkirk Wheel and The M8 horse sculpture). And all this, as it turns out, is the tip of a very busy design iceberg.
I visited on the day of opening, and with only a matter of hours to go before the first-footers and time ticking away on the statement-piece Brazilian slate gold-leaf clock behind the bar, one of the owners, Mario Arcari, who heads up the La Vita business with father Marco, was kind enough to give me a few moments of his time. Understandably, on such a critical day, he also admitted to having a few jangled nerves ahead of the big reveal but he kindly walked me through some of the challenges that the build threw up.
He said, “We bought the freehold of the property in August 2017. It was formerly Robertson’s Rainware but the planning application that we submitted was refused so we had to repeal it, which was successful obviously. This all held up the build, which didn’t end up getting underway until April this year.”
He continued, “Quite a few structural problems followed and so, trust me, there’s a lot of steel holding this place up!”
La Vita Spuntini Gordon Street marks Glasgow restaurant number five for the La Vita Group. The rest of the family consists of La Vita Spuntini Byres Road, La Vita Pizzeria George Square and Bishopbriggs, and La Vita Piccolino e Vino Newton Mearns.
There is some continuity between old and new in the design, most closely chiming in with La Vita Byres Road, like the ceiling, which has hand-carved embosses painted in gold leaf, the burgandy-red leather chesterfield upholstered horseshoe booths and banquettes, and the wooden fret panels at the back of the restaurant. What sets La Vita Spuntini Gordon Street very much apart from its sister venue, though, are the Medieval banquet hall-style circular candle chandeliers, the aforementioned cherry blossom tree (real bark, fake blossom) and all the stained glass.
And speaking of stained glass, during the strip-out of the shop they discovered a circular aperture (a hole essentially) in the ceiling above what is now the mezzanine area, and Mario and father liked it so much that they decided to re-create a duplicate right next
to it. Both are now home to the centrepieces of this beautiful stained glass.
But back to the front door and the design walk-through.
The space is relatively compact and ‘L’ shaped, with the entrance at the top of the ‘L’ leading to quite a narrow space with the bar on the left hand side, opposite which is a row of booth seating encased in a heavy wooden frame that matches the bar. The centrepiece of the cherry-red wooden back back is that beautiful clock that we mentioned earlier, but you do have to squat down to see it because hanging down fairly low at the front of the bar is cage-like shelving to house all the glassware. The bar top itself is made from
The bottom part of the ‘L’ is wider and houses more seating, dominated by two large semi-circular booths in the same burgandy-red chesterfield leather, above which hang those circular candle chandeliers. There are also tables and chairs around the perimeter of this space, with a continuation of the same upholstery, or variations thereof, like embroidered backs on the tub chairs for instance, and all paired with a wooden topped tables with mosaic tiles going all the way around the edge. To the right of the space (as you enter) three tables back on to a wall that is padded in the chesterfield leather, above which is a big padded leather decorative wall-hanging in mustard-yellow.
The entire ground floor is tiled in large grey slate terrazzo, while the ceiling is painted white with wooden beams in geometric patters, plus there are also stained glass oblong-shaped structures hanging from the it, in contrast with the countersunk ones in the mezzanine, which look like they’re allowing in natural light, whereas it’s actually artificial. This area also benefits from wall lights.
Then, if you go right to the back of the space, behind the wooden fret panels the stairs take you up the mezzanine area, the highlight of which are those stained glass sky-light apertures. There are grey wooden floorboards throughout the mezzanine, rows of the same tables and chairs as in other areas, while in a departure from
the other area, the walls in the mezzanine have been clad in shiny silver tiles.
All in all this is a real triumph for the La Vita Group and if the amount of bookings they were taking when I was there is any gauge, many a pair of Glaswegian eyeballs is going to be popping at all that’s going on here.