What to expect from this Italian-themed restaurant that was named in this year’s Michelin Guide.
Cathedral House, located in Townhead – near Batman’s lair, the Necropolis – in Glasgow has a rich history. From a hostel for female inmates released from nearby Duke Street Jail to a choir practice and Sunday school venue, it was transformed into the Cathedral House Hotel in 2018.
The downstairs bar and restaurant recently opened as Celentano’s, an Italian themed restaurant 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 all the rage and she explained that while the couple have always wanted to open their own restaurant, the pandemic has spurred those plans, with Celentano opening this summer.
The city seems to continue to attract talent from the south to come and open restaurants there, Rosie Healey being the poster child in 2018 when she was the chef of Alchemilla, still closed. What Anna and Dean are keen to show here is Dean’s experience gained working in a variety of locations, including those acclaimed by Michelin.
While Glasgow has no shortage of Italian restaurants, Celentano has a French bistro vibe, with cafe-style seating on upper floors and a mezzanine as well as high tables and bar stools.
What to expect: Although it was a cold Wednesday, the restaurant was busy and I imagined the bar buzzing over the weekend thanks to its intriguing cocktail menu with homemade additions and a selection of wines. It also accepts dogs, although I discovered it too late to bring my four-legged friend.
Perusing the menu, which includes snacks, antipasti, primi, secondi and sides, there is a feast menu for large groups, which I can see going well over Christmas. I toasted the evening with a glass of frizz (£5) and small bright green farmhouse bowl Nocellara olives (£2.50) while on the other side of the table the advice to start with a Negroni (as they brew their house vermouth and mix it with Portobello gin and the must-have Campari) was duly taken and thoroughly enjoyed (£8.50).
As for the drinks menu, don’t be perplexed by the wines on tap. It’s less about Wetherspoons prosecco and more about a small range of biodynamic wines that are available this way to reduce glass waste.
The dishes on the menu are inspired by Anna and Dean’s honeymoon, where they traveled from Florence to the Amalfi Coast, but prepared with seasonal and local produce. Snacks and antipasto dishes should be treated as starters while primi and secondi are main course size, but a mixed approach is encouraged depending on how hungry you are.
I couldn’t say no to smoked cod fritters (£3). Forget the stodge, they were light, with enough cream to be more indulgent and with a kick of kimchi on top. A bit like a very nice salted profiterole.
The next step was the Jerusalem artichoke from the antipasto section (£8). I love these gnarly 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.
As for the dish, I opted for a large plate of agnolotti pasta (£17). These little pillow-shaped packets of pasta hail from the Piedmont region and, to me, look like a serious upgrade from the ravioli of my childhood.
Stuffed with creamy ricotta, they had enough aldent bite to keep this whole dish from being a plate of nursery food. Adding chopped squash pieces and walnuts on top also retained the texture and color. Complete with a dusting of parmesan cheese and butter sauce, plus a flash of bitter sage, it’s an ideal dinner on a cold winter’s night.
From the second section comes the Trout fillet from Loch Etive (£16.50). With crispy, crackling skin, this dense fish was served with a rich butter sauce and greens with just enough salt to cut through the butter. A smoky, crispy and salty side BBQ Potatoes (£4.50) helped soak up the sauce and turned it into a high end chippy.
Another table, who were starting to leave as we had our main courses, were enthusiastically discussing the affogato which was considered the best they had had. As someone whose relationship with coffee is just a morning or early afternoon ritual, and who can often feel the caffeine buzz, I decided to go for a cocktail in for dessert, with the promise to come back and try an affogato after a weekend lunch.
The Booch cocktail was a much friendlier way to end the evening, with the honeyed notes of the original The Glenmorangie sweetened with house Limencello and kicked with Dean’s kombucha.
Celentano’s is touted as focusing on seasonal produce to make smart, healthy meals, and it clearly shows. Here, the simple flavors that work well together are extremely well done, plus there are a surprise or two.
Despite its chic interior, Celentano’s takes 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 will definitely come back because there is an affogato with my name on it.
Where? Celentano’s, Cathedral House, 28-32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow
(0141 552 3519, www.celentanosglasgow.com)