Sometimes, all you really need is good pasta – proper, fresh, thick pasta with a simple sauce. So, when mum and dad offered to take me out for lunch to celebrate my new job, I jumped online to decide which Italian restaurant we were going to go to. I settled on Caffé Parma, a member of the Paperino’s family based at the Western Tennis Club in the West End. Now, we used to love Paperino’s when they had restaurants in both the city centre and on Byres Road. Both of these establishments have long since closed, but Caffé Parma is still going strong and usually looks pretty busy when we drive past.
Knowing it might be busy, we booked a table in advance, and so we were seated immediately despite the restaurant being relatively full. Bottle of wine ordered (well, it was a celebration after all) we examined the menu and made our decisions (some of us quicker than others). Both mum and dad went for the Calamari Fritti and were served one of the biggest portions of squid I’ve ever seen. Both rings and tentacles adorned the board – the rings could have been crispier, but all the squid was well cooked. The accompanying aioli was also really good, with just the right quantity of garlic. For once, I didn’t order the squid, instead opting for the Mozzarella Sticks. Four giant, super crispy mozzarella sticks were served alongside a chilled marinara-style sauce – very good indeed! The cheese was gooey and stringy – the perfect compliment to the crispy outer shell and sweet tomato sauce.
We all stuck to the pasta section for our main’s, with mum selecting the Tagliatelle con Ragu Di Salsiccia Fresca – tagliatelle with sausage, onions, garlic and tomato. The sausage in the dish was particularly nice – not the traditional fennel sausage, this one had good meaty flavour which was imparted throughout the dish. Dad went for Gnocchi al Granchio e Pepperoncino and was served a massive portion of gnocchi in a tomato based sauce with crabmeat and chilli. I’m not a fan of crabmeat, the flavour of which was strong throughout the whole dish, but the gnocchi wasn’t bad. Given I usually wouldn’t eat gnocchi – I don’t really like the stodge of it – this is fairly high praise!
I definitely didn’t regret my choice however, as the five huge parcels of Tortelli di Ricotta e Spinaci were gorgeous. Served simply with butter and sage to really let the flavours of the pasta come through, the filling was crumbly yet smooth with simple, clean flavours. I love the combination of spinach and ricotta, and this was a very good example of why. The pasta itself was beautifully cooked, and the portion size was just perfect.
We were far too full for dessert, although I would happily have sampled something if I’d had the room. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Caffé Parma – it definitely lived up to the Paperino’s name. Keep up the good work Caffé Parma – I’ll be back!