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North Star

Some places feel right as soon as you walk through the door.

Homemade Italian food and a cosy ambience make North Star well worth visiting. Photograph: Colin Templeton
Homemade Italian food and a cosy ambience make North Star well worth visiting. Photograph: Colin Templeton

It is warm, cosy, and there is a radio murmuring in the background and folks talking Italian in the open kitchen. There is even a couple of full-fat sports reporters I recognise sitting there chatting about the day's press conference.

The menu is inked on to the wall tiles, there are cakes and foccacia on display, coffee in the air and a sizzling sound from the cooker. I order stew with garlic toast from the chalkboard then head back out to the car to get my glasses, planning a nice lazy read of my book in peace and quiet. But by the time I return there is a copy of The Herald Magazine being waved about. I hear Andrew, a reporter I know on The Hootsmon, saying the dreaded word "Dinertec" and a young Italian lady is soon right up beside me pointing at a photo of my much younger coupon and saying: "Is this you?"

How embarrassing. No secret squirrel here, then.

I can explain, though, as I eat my way through a lovely, rich and very Scottish beef stew that is today's special, some of the meat slightly flecked with charring from the pan with toast rubbed with garlic to accompany. "A customer just came in and said he had emailed you," says the owner Ester.

I know her name is Ester - and she is 25 years old - because she has already introduced herself and is now sitting beside me. "He left your photo and then a minute later you walked in. Crazy."

Ah, disastro. And my fault. That reader did email this morning mentioning a great place for pasta and as I was at that time in Peter's garage, not far away in Petershill Road, well, I came straight down. Not that it matters hugely, though, because I suspect no customer sits in here long without being chatted to by Ester. It reminds me very much of my Nonno's shop and cafe, where meals were cooked in the back shop, lollies freshly frozen in the open freezers and family life - complete with social calls from visitors - went on all around the customers. There is a young Italian couple with a baby sitting not far away from me right now bantering away to the kitchen staff. A brother? Sister-in-law? Anyway, it turns out that Ester's partner Maurizio is making pasta on Monday- none fresh today - and I am to come back. I say I will.

"Ciao, ciao, ciao, how did you enjoy your weekend in Spain?" I am asked when I walk in having last time mentioned I was going to be super-budget flying, then two-star Michelin gorging in a place bizarrely called The Cabbage somewhere outside Barcelona.

A fresh lasagne without the usual bechamel and meat filling is on the chalk board and soon placed before me on one of these tiny wooden tables that are like lap restraints. This is a very traditional lasagne made with meatballs and sliced boiled egg, and has what tastes like freshly-made ricotta through it counteracting the richness in a dry and delicious way.

Of course, I have to try the creamy foccacia, toasted in the frying pan, and as there is a ravioli with wild mushroom and a salsiccia sauce on the noticeboard, I have some of that too. No wonder I am now considerably fatter than in that photo.

The sausage made from diced sausage and vegetables is super rich, slightly salty and yet does not kill the taste of the mushroom and parmesan ravioli. If I was going to grumble, which is hard because I think the chef actually made this specially, I would say the edges of the ravioli are too thick and therefore just a little too dry. A bit harder with the rolling pin? Otherwise great.

A handmade apple tart from the counter to follow. Another pot of tea? Why not, and I will read the papers. Yes, maybe I'll try a bit of that french toast as it is a speciality. You get the gist. A nice, well-run and friendly little family-run cafe.

North Star

108 Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow (0141 946 5365)

Menu

Specials include a handmade ravioli, lasagne with meatballs, egg and ricotta, and a stew. Plus cakes, sandwiches and french toast. 4/5

Atmosphere

The radio plays low in the background, they are talking Italian in the kitchen. A cosy, comfortable, small space with bench seating and toaty tables. 5/5

Service

Run by a very friendly and chatty young Italian couple and their staff. The open kitchen is just a few feet away. 5/5

Price

Changing daily specials hover about the £6 mark - it is the west end of Glasgow, so reasonable given the quality. 3/5

Food

Hands-on homemade specials, either Italian or Scottish, which always have flavour and integrity. Meatball and egg lasagne an authentic treat. 7/10

TOTAL 24/30

If you know a restaurant Ron should review, email ronmackenna@fastmail.fm.

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

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