Watch: We speak to Domenico Crolla from Oro on the story behind his Italian restaurant in Shawlands

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“We just can’t get out of this business it’s in our blood.” 

With Italy among the favourites to win this summers Euros we’ve been immersing ourselves in Glasgow’s Italian food culture in preparation for the football competition. We visited one of the city’s most renowned family-run Italian restaurants, Oro, in Shawlands to speak to owner and founder Domenico Crolla about the story behind his business and the experience he strives to create for his customers.

“This restaurant has been open about 24 years now. Originally called Bella Napoli but we changed the name about seven years ago to Oro. We’re striving like so many good Italian restaurants in Glasgow to make good food and keep our customers happy.”

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When asked about what his menu offers, Domenico said: “Classic Italian cooking. A lot of fancy restaurants now try and steer away from that stuff, ‘we don’t do lasagne, we don’t do carbonara’. I think a good lasagne is fantastic, a good carbonara is great, so we stick to the basics. Good pasta, good pizza, fabulous steaks, chicken, fish. All with Italian flavour we try and import as much as we can to make things as authentic as possible and give people the right flavour profile. 

Oro Italian

“Yeah, we’re trying hard. I love when people ask me about Italian food in Glasgow because Italian restaurants are so good in Glasgow. I don’t want to name names but they’ve been owned and run, they’ve been in families for two or three generations. People from the rest of the UK are quite surprised when they come to Glasgow because the food is so good. Not just Italian but Chinese and Indian, it’s exceptional compared to the rest of the UK. 

“I think it might be because we don’t get too much tourism so we have to try a bit harder. Edinburgh for example doesn’t need to try, people just walk in the door so they can give them any ‘rubbish’. If you compete a Glasgow restaurant against an Edinburgh restaurant they always win. I might be biased.

“We don’t come up with things. I hate when you go to a cocktail bar and they’ve come up with cocktails. I like classic cocktails, I want to recognise a name and pick it. I don’t like to be lost on the menu. I want people to come in and get the ordering bit over with because people don’t want to spend ages looking over the menu. They want to order, get it out the way and then carry on the rest of the evening together. So we keep that bit as simple as possible. 

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“Do we change things for the Glasgow palette? The big argument is always the carbonara. You’ve got the classic carbonara and then the Scottish carbonara. We offer both because I’m not here to educate people, I’m here to sell pasta.

“I’ve grown up in the business, as a small boy I’d work in my dad’s cafe and worked my way up through the ranks. I’d always have my dad telling me ‘get an education and do something else’, but this is the business that I liked, I felt it was the most natural thing to do, to sell food, to entertain people, be a host. That’s what I am I’m a host, I’m not a restauranteur, I’m not a chef. People come along and I try and make their evenings as pleasant as possible.

“My son, I wasted so much good money to send him to a school to do something else and now he’s in the business as well. And my daughter as well. She married a chef, a Michelin star chef but she married a chef. We just can’t get out of this business it’s in our blood.” 

Ahead of Euro 2024, we’ve picked out local beer gardens to watch the football and had a look at other restaurants in the city linked to the nations competing in the tournament.

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