Make time for a great meal
An "Osteria" is a tavern or inn and Osteria Del Tempo Perso translates as the "tavern of lost time". It is the third in a small chain of restaurants - the first actually opened in Casalvieri Frosinone in Lazio, Italy while the second can be found in Bruntsfield in Edinburgh. We haven't been to either of those so the recently opened restaurant on John St beside the Italian Centre (where Tony Macaroni used to be) was to be our introduction (note that there is another Italian restaurant: "Alla Piazza", practically right next door).
It may not look like much from outside but inside the place is welcoming and I suppose "Italian-looking" - it's rustic with lots of wood, wine, a cramped (possibly unused) mezzanine floor and a (not so rustic) conservatory peeking out into the Italian Centre's courtyard, and high on the back wall are neon letters with the phrase "Nulla di valore puo' essere perso perdendo tempo", which according to their Facebook page translates as "Nothing of value can be lost wasting time".
We were greeted on arrival and given a choice of seats. On the way to our table we realised just how much wine is available - and there is more on the opposite wall and behind the bar!
As we took in more of the surroundings we could see that clocks are everywhere but all with the wrong time! This is not a place for a rushed meal but somewhere to lose time dining with friends and family.
Once seated we spied a Baladin beer on the menu - we've come across a few of these before and they've been great and this one (Nazionale) was no exception - it was very lively with a big creamy head and tropical fruit aromas. It was dense, cloudy and wheaty like a good Belgian ale and for 6.5% it was really smooth and easy to drink. Interestingly Baladin produce (or at least used to) a beer jelly which Smile Cafe on Queen Margaret Drive used to stock.
We also had an Americano bitter cocktail before picking a wine; we were recommended the Franciacorta Alma Bellavista DOCG which at a hefty £48 a bottle may seem steep but it's quite possibly the nicest sparkling wine we've ever had! Made using Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Nero and a little Pinot Bianco, this wine from the Lombardy region is 12.5% and is very lightly sparkling with a really fruity aroma - like a good zesty white with bubbles that dance on your tongue!
To start we began with a cheese-board. In the UK we might be used to having a cheese course to finish a meal but in Mediterranean countries it's often an option at the beginning of a meal. On the platter we had 4 different regional cheeses, we forget which ones but they were all great, especially with honey, apple, celery and sesame seed-covered bread sticks with that slightly toasted flavour.
We spied calzone on the menu, which we hadn't seen, never mind ordered for years and this particular speciality came recommended and consisted of melted mozzarella cheese, black pepper and walnuts (yes, walnuts!) inside the calzone which was wrapped in Parma ham and served with a huge amount of rocket topped with Parmesan shavings.
The calzone was really thin and not stodgy, so a lot lighter than you'd expect and we discovered that walnuts do go with cheese & ham, and the ham was lovely. There was so much food that we couldn't finish it though and lunch was sorted for the next day.
Another good portion size, this time a creamy cheese and egg sauce, lovely cured speck-style ham (called Guanaciale in Italy) with melting non-obtrusive fat. The pasta was welcomingly thick, textured and coated nicely in the sauce, it was pleasantly eggy and clearly made fresh. The only very minor downside was that the Parmesan was pre-grated.
After the size of the mains we couldn't face pudding but had a macchiato and white coffee to finish - they sell Kimbo coffee so we knew these would be good and both passed the "spoon test".
Despite being "the tavern of lost time" all our food came out quickly and the waiting staff weren't tardy! They were attentive and helpful, suggesting various options - we understand that Osteria's Glasgow customers are a bit different to their Edinburgh neighbours who are more receptive to wine suggestions that move away from Pinot Grigio to unchartered territories. We drank the wine that was suggested to us and it was fabulous! The food was all fantastic too and reminded me that I do actually like calzone (we've had a few bad ones in the past).
During our meal music was playing at a decent volume, it ranged from jazz to a weird song with lyrics that sounded like "mama, Jesus is great!" which put a smile on our faces! As we were leaving the place started filling up with Italian families, which is always a good sign. A unisex/disabled toilet is on the ground floor and was clean and well-stocked on our visit.
Note: we visited just before they changed the menu so the carbonara now comes with spaghetti rather than pappardelle.
+ great portion sizes = stuffed after 2 courses
+ authentic and popular with Italians
+ really good staff
+ Relaxed take your time atmosphere
+ Kimbo coffee
- pre-grated Parmesan
Main courses on their Monday - Friday 12:00 - 18:00 lunch menu are £4.95 each, find out more and view all their menus here: www.osteriadeltempoperso.co.uk
We received a complimentary meal for review purposes but we consider this a fair and accurate review as vouched by Fred.