Celentano’s Glasgow, restaurant review

What to expect from this Italian themed restaurant that was named in this year’s Michelin Guide.

Cathedral House, located in Townhead - close to Batman’s hangout, the Necropolis - in Glasgow has a rich history. From a hostel for female inmates released from nearby Duke Street Prison to a place for choir practice and Sunday school, it was turned into Cathedral House Hotel in 2018.

The downstairs bar and restaurant space has recently opened as Celentano’s, an Italian themed eatery opened by husband and wife duo Anna and Dean Parker who moved to Glasgow, Anna’s hometown, from London where Dean was a chef at Darby’s, Sorella and The Dairy. Anna’s background is in fashion and she has explained that while the pair always wanted to open their own restaurant, the pandemic spurred these plans on, with Celentano’s opening in the summer.

The city seems to continue to be attracting talent from down south to come and open restaurants here, with Rosie Healey being the poster girl for this in 2018 when she was the head chef of still closed Alchemilla. What Anna and Dean are keen to show here is Dean’s experience garnered from working in various places, including those given the nod by Michelin.

While Glasgow is not short of Italian restaurants, Celentano’s has a French bistro vibe, with cafe style seating on upper floors and a mezzanine as well as high tables and bar stools.

Celentano's, Glasgow

What to expect: Despite being a cold Wednesday, the restaurant was busy and I could imagine the bar being a buzz at the weekend thanks to its intriguing cocktail menu featuring house-made additions, and wine selection. It’s also dog-friendly, though I found out too late to bring my four legged friend.

While browsing the menu, which comprises snacks, antipasti, primi, secondi and sides - there’s a feasting menu for larger groups, which I can see going down well at Christmas parties. I toasted the evening with a glass of frizzante (£5) and small bowl of bright green firm Nocellara olives (£2.50) while across the table, the advice to start with a negroni (as they make their vermouth in house and stir it with Portobello gin and the obligatory Campari) was duly taken and thoroughly enjoyed (£8.50).

When it comes to the drinks list, don’t be perplexed by the wines on tap. This is less Wetherspoons prosecco and more a small range of biodynamic wines which are available that way to reduce glass waste.

Dishes on the menu are inspired by Anna and Dean’s honeymoon, where they travelled from Florence to the Amalfi Coast, but made with seasonal and local produce. Snacks and antipasti dishes should be treated as starters whereas primi and secondi are main course sized but a mix and match approach is encouraged depending on how hungry you are.

I couldn’t say no to the smoked cod doughnuts (£3). Forget stodge, these were light, with enough cream filling to be moreish and with a kick of kimchi on top. A bit like a very nice savoury profiterole.

Next up was the Jerusalem artichoke from the antipasti section (£8). I love these knobbly delights and this dish was a highlight for me. A mix of different textures, the earthy chanterelles added depth to the creamy stracciatella and spinach.

On to the mains, I opted for a large plate of the agnolotti pasta (£17). These small pillow-like parcels of pasta hail from the Piedmont region and, to me, look like a serious upgrade on the ravioli of my childhood.

Stuffed with creamy ricotta, they had enough aldente bite to stop this entire dish being a plate of nursery food. Also keeping up the texture, and colour, was the addition of chunks of squash and chopped nuts on top. Complete with a dusting of parmesan and a buttery sauce, plus a flash through of bitter sage, this is an ideal dinner on a cold winter’s night.

From the secondi section comes the fillet of Loch Etive trout (£16.50). With crackling-like crispy skin, this dense fish was served with a rich buttery sauce and greens with just enough salt to cut through the butter. A side of smoky, crisp and salted BBQ potatoes (£4.50) helped soak up the sauce, and turned this into an upmarket chippy.

Another table, who were starting to leave as we were tucking into our mains, were excitedly discussing the affogato which was deemed the best they’d had. As someone whose relationship with coffee is a morning or early afternoon ritual only, and who can often feel the buzz of caffeine, I decided to go for a cocktail as a dessert, with the promise to return and try an affogato after a weekend lunch.

The Booch cocktail was a much more sleep-friendly way to end the evening, with the honey-ed notes of The Glenmorangie original sweetened up with house Limencello and given a kick with Dean’s kombucha.

Celentano’s is billed as focusing on seasonal produce to make clever and wholesome dishes, and that’s clear to see. Simple flavours that classically work well together are done extremely well here, plus there’s one or two surprises.

Despite its chic interior, Celentano’s is taking no prisoners when it comes to its food and drink, and I can see it continuing to be a hit for long lunches, cocktails with friends and family dinners. And I’ll definitely be back as there’s an affogato with my name on it.

Where? Celentano’s, Cathedral House, 28-32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow

(0141 552 3519, www.celentanosglasgow.com)