Raffaelle’s has only been open since June, but it has already managed to make an impression on the good people of Bearsden and Milngavie. Scrolling through their Facebook page, many of the comments are negative and degrading – poor service seems to be a major issue with those who have visited so far. Mum had no such complaints after her first visit, however, so she decided we would all go to Raffaelle’s for her birthday dinner.
We were shown to a table on the ground floor of the restaurant, nothing wrong with that except that we seemed to be very close to the table next to us – I didn’t know whether to start our own conversation or just to join in with theirs! This was our only issue with the night though, and it’s a very small complaint in an otherwise fantastic evening.
Mum chose to have the same starter she’d had on her first visit as she’d enjoyed it so much. Her Bruschetta Tricolore was a good sized portion featuring three slices of toasted ciabatta topped with three different toppings. Her favourite was the smoked ham hough, crushed pea and mint, whilst I tasted and loved the goat cheese, roast red pepper and honey bruschetta. The final topping was smoked salmon, cream cheese and pine nuts, which also went down well.
Dad chose the soup of the day, which was Red Lentil and Ham. Dad was well chuffed with the hearty, steaming bowl of soup that arrived at the table, although the ham had made it a rather salty affair. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a favourite of mine – Fritturina di Calamari. When reading the description of the dish, we all questioned the grammar which suggested that not only was the squid deep fried, but that the lemon slices were too. The English was perfect, however, and there were indeed thin slices of deep fried lemon on my plate. The squid itself was crispy and cooked to perfection, and it made a nice change to get not just rings of calamari but thick pieces of squid tube as well. The panko breadcrumbs made for a super crispy coating, and the fried lemon was tart and very complimentary.
For our mains, we all chose from the pasta section of the menu. Mum went for the Pasta Al Forno, which arrived in a steaming, bubbling dish topped with gooey melted cheese. Mum raved about every element, especially enjoying the Italian sausage which was tossed through the penne pasta. The dish also managed to do the unthinkable – it beat mum! It was a solid dish of pasta, sauce, meat and cheese and mum couldn’t possibly finish it after that starter she’d eaten.
Dad went for classic and simple Spaghetti alla Carbonara, choosing to have it “the English way” with cream. We chastised him for this – when in Rome, you know – but, to be honest, I couldn’t imagine the dish being half as tasty without the cream. As it was, the pasta sat in a thick, creamy sauce studded with salty bacon and dad polished of the lot. When making my choice, I was swayed by one of my favorite ingredients – pesto. My Pappardelle Pomodorini e Basilico was a delicious dish full of subtle flavours and soft textures. The thick, perfectly cooked pappardelle was mixed with basil pesto, tomatoes, rocket and mascarpone. The blobs of mascarpone melted through the pasta, softening the flavour of the pesto. A very rich dish, halfway though I worried that I might not be able to finish it, but luckily I got a second wind and the bowl was soon clean.
We were already planning to skip dessert as I had spent all day making a cake, but after those hefty portions of pasta there’s no way we would have been able to tackle another course anyway. One of the best Italian meals I’ve had, I can definitely say that we’ll be back to Raffaelle’s.