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Ron Mackenna: Panevino, Glasgow

We haven't booked and it's very busy, so when we're invited to climb on to some high seats at the bar we do so with relief that we're getting in.

Panevino's ambience and food easily compensate for the relatively high prices. Photograph: Colin Templeton
Panevino's ambience and food easily compensate for the relatively high prices. Photograph: Colin Templeton

There are already people absolutely squeezed into all the low-slung nooks and softly lit crannies of this glassy, shiny dolce vita-style restaurant.

Just feet behind us at the door, there are non-stop whoops of "ciao, ciao" and "bwon-a-say-rah" plus loads of mwah, mwah kissing as the staff loudly greet people they know in Italian then English. Frankly? Being of the grumpy persuasion I could do without this hoopla. But other customers are not only laughing, but also enjoying the whole fun and excitable atmosphere.

I scan the menu, making an acerbic observation that we're now apparently selling salami by the slice in Scotland. Mamma mia.

My mumping is ignored as the waiters directly across the bar counter from us offer tasters of Ventricina salami - selling at £2.20 for three slices - and various cheeses.

We plump for a not-much-bigger than a sugar cube lump of formaggio ubriaco, or drunken cheese, or cheese mixed with wine, depending on how you style it, at £1.80. It's from Treviso, I think.

There's chestnut honey to drip from a wooden server over the cheese and fresh bread for the salami slices and I've got to reluctantly admit I'm warming slightly to all this. It's good.

Now wine's being passed over to Debs to taste and somehow sitting at the bar, draught aside, noisy and volatile greetings behind us aside too, seems to have been the smart thing to do.

So far though we've seen nothing that a good deli couldn't do. That's until the focaccia arrives. I've got to be honest here and say I did already mutter: "It better be a bloody good focaccia for £7.50."

Turns out it is. A creamy dough is crisp on the base, bubbly on the top and heaped with tiny tomatoes which have been dressed deliciously in lemon and basil. On to all this is tossed rocket in oil and salt. It's brilliant and I hoover it up, though it would be going too far to say there's a smile creeping across this leathery old coupon.

A tagliatelle ragu, a linguine vongole and spaghetti meatballs arrive next.

We're back in familiar territory here. Or are we? The spaghetti meatballs are nothing to write home about; heavy, the meat being a different temperature from the sugo, which is too sharp for my taste anyway.

The vongole is good enough - though where do you get fresh vongole in this country? I can never find the little clams anywhere.

But the linguine ragu is something else. Long ago, when every student who opened a can of chopped tomatoes and dumped it into a pound of mince thought he or she was making a bolognese this was actually what they were imitating. The deep, dark powerfully flavoured ragu from Bologna. And here it's a proper ragu of beef, oxtail and veal in strips, not minced, with a rich meaty flavour that clings to the linguine strands and makes this one bowlful a whole meal.

It's been impossible not to be aware of the constant stream of people popping their heads through the door and being turned away because the restaurant is full.

This place is hard to miss from outside with its big glass exterior smeared with rain twinkling from the lights.

If old-school Italian restaurants have proved anything recently it is that the warmth, charm and familiar comfort food they provide has been what people have wanted during the long, cold years of the recession. Panevino is new school. Its look is brighter, brasher, like you would find in a restaurant in Rome, say. And its menu is a bit more ambitious with bolder sourcing.

Is this a good thing? Yes. Why not?

Menu

Wanders slightly off the Scots-Italian restaurant track with salami by the slice, interesting cheeses and a ragu made with oxtail. 4/5

Atmosphere

Has the bustling, warm and comfortable feel of a new school Italian restaurant. Very welcoming. No complaints. 4/5

Service

Squeezed in seats give the waiters a hard shift. Despite hearing grumbles about service it was good when we were there, but we sat at the bar. 5/5

Price

Not cheap at £11 for a plate of pasta in the evening but it does have a certain style. Reasonable on the pocket, I'd say. 4/5

Food

Lovely creamy-tasting focaccia with fresh pomodorini was the delicious dish of the night. The pastas were pretty decent. 7/10

TOTAL 24/30

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