It’s sometime said that you should judge an Italian restaurant by how they handle the fundamentals, the cornerstone components being their basic tomato sauce, given that it’s the basis for so many Italian restaurant classics. By this token, Gali’s could be considered one of the better Italian dining spots in Edinburgh, but as is often the case, that’s merely where the story begins.
Their premises on West Maitland Street has been a restaurant, of one type or another, for a considerable number of years. Gali’s has been there a while, but I’ve never popped in. I may have mentioned my slight aversion to dining too close to my abode, so imagine that I can account for the lack of a Gali’s visit under that quirk.
My visit was quite a mixed bag, even although the scoring comes out as rather bland across-the-board threes. There were ups and downs across the whole experience.
The place is a lovely, homely, beautifully corniced dining room, befitting its West End location. In the presence of this grandeur, I was plonked at a rather wobbly table, right next to their bar, which evoked memories of Changing Rooms MDF hell. The floor and paintwork had seen better days, too. The room could use a good deal of care and attention to return it to former glories.
Service was good, but was rather muted and reserved, so not quite what you’d expect from an Italian place.
To eat, I started with Granny’s recipe for melanzane alla parmigiana, then followed with a pizza Gali, which featured smoked salmon and capers.
The melanzane soon appeared. It didn’t look the bonniest but it’s not often much of a looker as a dish, aside from the very smart incarnation served at the Italian Kitchen, though, so it wasn’t a huge concern. I tucked in, and as mentioned previously, the tomato sauce was excellent. The aubergine and cheese were not, both being entirely characterless other than providing a stable medium for the lovely tomatoey goodness to further permeate.
The same applied to the pizza, in many ways. The topping of smoked salmon and capers, both of which are usually bold flavours, was rather limp and lifeless. The base was more doughy than many would like, although I broadly appreciate a range of different pizza base approaches. The tomato sauce topping was lovely, with everything else being relegated to a supporting role.
As usual, I eschewed dessert, favouring a little espresso. It was one of the poorest espressos I’ve been served for a good long while.
So overall, Gali’s was a muddle of good and bad. In the final analysis, things can be summed up in one phrase: the place needs a refresh. They need to redecorate, and focus more on the excellent dining space they have. Stripping back the outdated “modernisations” would be a good place to start. But mostly, they need to re-energise the kitchen, as for now they are an object lesson in a good “red sauce” being not quite enough to sustain an entire menu.
Blythe scores Gali’s
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
3/5 for service
giving an overall 12/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: melanzane alla nonna; pizza Gali
I drank: peroni, espresso
I wore: blue shirt
Total bill: £21.60