I’ve been meaning to visit Pesto, on St Vincent Street, for a good wee while, but I always seem to be hurrying in one direction or another, when I pass it. Today was no exception, but I decided to hit pause on my day, which had already drifted to mid-afternoon without a lunchtime break, and make time for some Italian tapas.
The first thing that struck me about Pesto, aside from the green livery, was the large, floor-to-ceiling windows, offering excellent people-watching opportunities. But I was soon focussing on the main business at hand, as I was keen to crack on with things.
Their daytime menu, running from 12-5pm offers three dishes from a selection of Italian classics, served in tapas style portions, for £7.95. You can play with their full a la carte, too, which features a broader selection of dishes, in the same style.
The menu is pretty comprehensive, with some pasta options, little 5″ pizzas, meat and seafood dishes like Italian sausage, meatballs, and calamari, and some veggie choices like salads, arancini, mushrooms, or sauteed potatoes.
I opted for penne with chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce, the meatballs, served in a tomato and herb sauce, and the calamari, served with a garlic mayonnaise.
Dishes arrived simultaneously, but I started with the calamari. The generous portion of squid rings proved to be well-seasoned, nicely cooked, and piping hot. They could have used to be a little crisper, but this was definitely one of the better plates of calamari that I’ve eaten.
The pasta was pretty routine stuff, although it was generously stocked with tender chunks of chicken.
The meatballs had a good deal of meaty solidity about them. They were big, beefy and bold. The sauce had just a little too raw an edge to it, with the first taste in particular being too intensely reminiscent of eating tomato puree straight from the tube.
So overall, I was pretty impressed with Pesto. It’s part of a small chain of places, with this being their first restaurant in Scotland. In terms of Italian chains with only one shop in Scotland, it seems that Glasgow got Pesto, while Edinburgh got Strada. Given how God-awful Strada was, when I visited, I have to concede that with Pesto, Glasgow have landed a considerable victory over their neighbour in the east.
Blythe scores Pesto
3.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 14.5/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: penne with chicken; calamari fritti; polpette
I drank: sparkly water
I wore: stripey scarf
Total bill: £9.90