With an Italian in almost every corner of the country, how can you sort the wheat from the chaff and make sure you are dining at the very best? With this handy guide, of course.
11 High Street, Beauly, Inverness
Open Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-2pm
When it comes to Italian food, pasta and pizza tend to get all the fuss. But there is, of course, a wealth of other kinds of Italian cuisine that are well worth our attention- and that’s exactly what the team at Café Biagiotti aim to showcase. They specialise in luxury Italian breads (think artisan focaccia and ciabatta) as well as decadent cakes and scones, all served in a cosy converted cottage in the village of Beauly. If you fancy something more substantial, Café Biagiotti also offers a soup of the day, filled focaccia or arancini: a popular Sicilian snack that consists of rice balls rice coated with breadcrumbs and then deep fried. And if all that wasn’t enough, you can also buy one of their homemade frozen ready meals – think lasagne and aubergine parmigiana – to enjoy a taste of Italy in your own home.
561 Dumbarton Road, Partick
0141 339 8698
Open Wednesday-Friday, 3pm until late and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm until late
The decision to decorate their window with lots of large plants mean that it is easy to either miss this small pizza shop, or mistake it for a florist. But when you do eventually make it in, the feeling that you have stumbled across one of Glasgow’s best-kept secrets only adds to its charm. The owners have created a fusion that shows off the best of their two cultures; Polselli flour, Strianese tomatoes and olive oil imported from Italy; with fresh produce that’s sourced from local Partick allotments and the Sandy Road Community Garden. And it works: the pizzas are flavoursome, fresh and totally filling. Basta isn’t always as busy as some of the other pizza places in town, but the brilliant soundtrack provides plenty of atmosphere- with the playlist available on their website so you can keep the party going when you get home.
Piccolo Mondo, Renfrew
63 Hairst Street, Renfrew, Renfrewshire (a second branch is on 344 Argyle Street, Glasgow)
0141 885 1011
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm-2.15pm and 5.30pm-10pm
A family favourite among local diners, Piccolo Mondo was first set up by a Tuscan couple, Tony & Giuliana Pierotti, back in 1974. After selling the business in 1989 they decided to reopen it in 2005, with the help of their son Emilio and their head chef Iain Monaghan. Family and tradition prevail in the modern Piccolo Mondo, with indulgent dishes and big portions guaranteed, alongside genuinely friendly service. They set up a popular delivery service during lockdown which they have since kept going, meaning that you can enjoy some of their most popular dishes -including even a Lobster Thermidor- from the comfort of your sofa.
5 Hunter Square, Edinburgh
0131 220 0851
Open Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-11pm and until 12am on Fridays and Saturdays
Civerinos pizzas certainly aren’t the cheapest, but they are undoubtedly among some of the best in the country. The dough, which is made in house and then proven for 72 hours to give it the perfect rise and crisp, is pretty good. But it is the toppings which really elevate their pizza above the rest: smoked mozzarella, Tuscan chilli sausage, garlic marinated mushrooms, slow cooked ham hock… we could go on. One of the standout options is the ‘Philly Cheesesteak’, a pizza topped with rare seared sirloin, sugo, mozzarella, caramelised onions, roasted peppers, rocket and jalapeno cream cheese. Delightful.
Via Roma, Inverurie
55 Market Place, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 5pm-11pm and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11.30am-11pm
You are guaranteed a warm welcome at this traditional restaurant, where the menu includes a wealth of tasty Italian dishes- and a particularly extensive range of authentic Italian deserts. But being traditional has not stopped Via Roma from adapting seamlessly to the ‘new normal’ of coronavirus dining. In fact, they have gone out of their way to make guests feel safe and comfortable: with tables spaced suitably apart, temperature checks on arrival, plenty of hand sanitiser and special air-cleaning equipment placed throughout the restaurant. You can even download the menu to your phone via a QR code to minimise any potential contamination. Perfect for those who are a little nervous about eating out in the current circumstances.
8 Vennel Street, Stewarton, Ayrshire
Open Sundays and Thursdays, 12pm-8.30pm and Fridays and Saturdays, 12pm-10.30pm
This exciting venue has been shaking up Stewarton’s restaurant scene since it opened last year. Their homemade pizza dough is proofed for 48 hours before being cooked in a 700°F oven and topped with a range of gourmet ingredients. Vegan cheese is available on all of their pizzas, as well as plenty of vegetarian toppings, and there is mercifully transparent allergen information for anyone who needs it. Kids are also well catered to: there is a non-processed, dedicated kids menu and where availability permits they let children make up their own pizza. Great for all the family.
85 Kilmarnock Road, Shawlands, Glasgow
Open every day, 9am-10.30pm
While many venues in Shawlands have changed hands in recent years, Oro has remained steadfastly popular with southside diners. Its menu is huge, so there should be something for everyone, with very clear allergen information for anyone who needs it. A particular highlight is the ‘design your own pizza’ offer, where you can choose your base (gluten-free option available), cheese and toppings- even adding gold leaf for a fee of £9.50. As well as their food they also offer an extensive list of cocktails, including the classically Italian Aperol Spritz.
7 Little Belmont Street, Aberdeen
Open Monday-Saturday, 12pm-2.30pm and 5.30pm-10.15pm
If you close your eyes and visualise traditional Italian food, the chances are you are pretty close to what is on offer at Poldinos. This cosy, welcoming restaurant offers hearty portions, attentive staff and a consistently busy backdrop, as well as a range of excellent dishes. But their pizza is where Podinos comes alive: with the dough made in-house with quality olive oil, and a sauce that’s crafted from Fior di Latte cheese and Italian tomatoes. Our pick is the ‘Picante’, made with spicy sausage, red onion, fresh chilli and Gorgonzola cheese.
One 20 Wine Café, Edinburgh
120 Dundas Street, Edinburgh
0131 556 1911
Open every day, 10am-late
One of the best-reviewed Edinburgh restaurants on TripAdvisor, One 20 Wine Café has built its reputation by offering simple Italian food made to the highest quality. Its menu is small, offering a handful of main meals and three types of sharing platter. Our pick is the charcuterie platter: 30-month age Parma ham, Mortadella with pistachio, Speck by ‘Carni’, Sopressa ‘Vino Torcolato’, pickled vegetables, marinated artichokes and semi-dried tomatoes.
Pizza Punks, Glasgow
90 St Vincent Street, Glasgow
0141 237 8020
Open Sunday-Wednesday, 12pm-10pm and Thursday-Saturday, 12pm-11pm
If you are the type of diner who likes to go off-piste with your menu choices, this is the perfect place for you. Pizza Punks lets you create your own pizza, using as many of their unlimited toppings as you want, for one flat fee. That includes picking your own sauce (red, white or BBQ); your own cheese (mozzarella, applewood, goats’ cheese or vegan mozzarella) and then one of 41 individual toppings. Plenty of them are vegetarian and six are special plant-based alternatives, with gluten-free bases also available. With this much choice on offer -including some unconventional toppings like Irn Bru pulled pork, black pudding and even garlic and rosemary potatoes- it can be tempting to follow their advice and ‘knock yourself out’. But sometimes, less really is more. Trust us.