On a big, bright corner in Finnieston, sunshine is on the menu at Rosie Healey’s Gloriosa. White walls and long blue curtains give a breezy Mediterranean feel despite grey Glasgow skies and relaxed soul music adds to the vibe. It’s hard to imagine this space was previously Firebird, all black walls and black ceilings.

The transition to Gloriosa wasn’t easy, Rosie tells me. “There was no budget and no time, so in one week I had to turn it into this new place. I had to keep the same staff and retrain everyone and implement this new idea, a new restaurant. It was impossible, really quite a struggle.” Then the pandemic ground hospitality to a halt.

“I was so stressed then it had to shut and that was awful. I did get to rethink what I was doing and start again and that was actually quite a nice thing. I managed to think really about food and how I wanted it to be.”

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Chef-patron Rosie Healey trained with Ottolenghi in London. “I learned a lot there. They really make you feel like you can cook. I didn’t have any experience. I just thought I was a good cook. But they make you feel like you are, because it’s not technical: it’s just flavours and learning how to trust yourself.”

This trust and integrity of ingredients underpins Rosie’s cooking. Her ethos is: “Use the best quality of ingredients, really simply, with knowledge and care. It’s just Mediterranean cooking done really well, letting everything speak for itself. But because it’s the highest quality, that’s easy to do,” she says. “It does take a lot of knowledge to step back and decide: ‘I’m not going to touch that’, but that’s what I love,” she says.

It’s hard not to love food like this: produce-led and full of skillfully layered flavours. I eat lemony fresh ricotta bruschetta with blackened chillies, and chickpeas with marinated peppers and salsa verde, perhaps the embodiment of Healey’s simple style. The chickpeas are fat and perfectly tender, the peppers silky and the pool of flecked olive oil carries the freshness of just chopped herbs. It’s not complicated but it is really, really good. Last time I loved the handmade pasta with clams, and a squid and borlotti dish I still think about months later.

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In recent years small plates dining has taken a knock, derided for being overly fussy and leaving you hungry despite a table of stacked dishes and an empty wallet. Gloriosa is a reminder that when done right, it’s a joyful way to eat. Dishes are served family style, and there’s plenty to share. There’s a generosity to each dish that goes beyond size; always big on flavour, with plenty of sauce to scoop up with a wedge of excellent homemade focaccia.

“I always try to make really fresh food and I hope that comes through,” says Rosie, “I make everything vibrant, because that’s what I like to eat.” 

Vibrant certainly describes my next dish; a verdant tangle of julienned kohlrabi, slithers of cucumber and sweet brown shrimp. It’s lightly bound with a herbed aioli tossed through with tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives, and utterly delicious.

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Gloriosa’s menus are deeply seasonal.

“I would never buy anything that wasn’t in season out of season just because it’s more convenient for me,” Rosie says. “Things taste better as well. No tomatoes in January, no green beans out of summer. It’s nice to do something with integrity. That is what I’m trying to do. Everything is considered.”

I’ve clearly missed a trick as every table around me has ordered a whole artichoke with hot chive butter.

“I’m proud of that one,” Rosie says.

It looks incredible but I’ll have to be quick because the menus change every two weeks, with tweaks most days.

“I get bored cooking the same thing,” Rosie says, and it keeps the enthusiastic kitchen team learning new things too.

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Rosie says: “My team is amazing and my sous chef Jordan does such a wonderful job. It also gives me a break. I don’t need to be here all the time. I’ve managed to strike that balance, which I’m grateful for. I’ve worked hard to make that happen. Cooking is such a heartfelt thing. I want things to be delicious and I put my energy into that. I wonder how you could do that if you’re in there 70 hours a week. You just can’t.”

I ponder this happy balance over a beautifully wobbly panna cotta as Rosie heads back to the kitchen. The deep consideration of every aspect of the menu, the sense of fun, the respect and love of ingredients: Gloriosa is everything I want in a restaurant. What a joy it is to eat here.


1321 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AB
0141 334 0594