Sugo Pasta

70 Mitchell Street, Glasgow

HAVE you ordered, the waitress says as she walks right up to me. Uh? This is a very surprising question considering we can both see she is holding in her actual hands, so close that I can savour their deliciousness, the two actual pasta dishes that I actually, er, ordered.

“Er, yes,” I say. And suddenly. Without a word. She turns and leaves. Taking my pasta away. Back deep into the bowels of this staggeringly huge restaurant which tonight, a Wednesday, is absolutely heaving, jumping, packed-full, people talking, eating, gesturing, some still waiting at the door, queueing. Pastas being forked, flipped, slurped, dripped, even dropped while mine is leaving on a bloody jet plane. Don’t know when it will be back again.

“WTF” I’m in the middle of saying to absolutely nobody because tonight, Matthew, I’m eating all alone. At a tiny leper table near the entrance.

Then another waitress spots my speech bubble and chases the first one down. A discussion takes place…the pasta still inching stubbornly towards that massive open kitchen so far away, so obscured by standing, sitting, yapping, eating humanity that not once tonight will I get a clear view of it.

Hang on, the pastas are swinging back again. Returning. Bobbing, weaving, arriving in a crash landing before me, no explanation, or apology from the first waitress. A wry smile from the second. Sigh.

As a result of this mad episode I’m going to have to order another pasta later because one thing about pasta that is an absolute fact? It needs to be piping hot when it gets to the table. Steam rising, sauces still sliding, slithering and slipping into shape. And this definitely ain’t.

Still, Sugo here is the searingly hottest ticket in town. The owners of the undoubtedly brilliantly successful Paesano restaurants trying to do that impeccably-sourced, authentically made and astonishingly cheap thing they did with pizza to pasta.

Crikey, fresh hand-made pasta? On this scale: Revolutionary. They don’t even eat that in Italy. Only kidding, though outside the home it’s nowhere near as available as you would think. For good reasons, not least that the dried stuff is pretty great anyway, and not nearly as risky to handle.

What is it like then? Honestly? A hit and a good few misses. Little origami parcels of agnolotti, stuffed with nicely balanced veal, potato and cavallo nero, draped in salty buttery thyme? Pleasant, reasonably good pasta.

Then a Jamie Oliver-esque bowl-shaped dome of fine-ish tagliarini, all speckled with reds and green, crumbled with pangratto, pretty, hot with chilli and sold at an almost unbelievable fiver? Hmm. Dry, utterly tasteless, a little sticky in parts and disappointing but also fabulously meaty, superbly deep ragu, chunks of unctuous beef, the pappardelle pasta folded like ribbons of silk, probably the most suitable for serving freshly-made of the dishes I’ll have tonight. It’s very good, though a few strands are stuck together. But this I would definitely have again.

Now, I’d heard they have a problem with portion sizes in here. And I think they already know that. The waitress certainly told me right off that servings are 120 grams, so maybe three plates for two people. Strange.

Surprising, then, to see that 120 grams on the plate looks like it’s way more than enough. A big portion but in the same way pasta doesn’t hold its heat like pizza, pasta doesn’t fill like pizza. And I find I can easily handle another dish just to see what it’s like when served piping hot.

The spaghetti, then, with clams and white wine. They’re good at the sauces in here, definitely, but that springy, bouncy, under this light yellowy, curly spaghetti? That looks like the awful stuff they sell in bags in supermarkets. I don’t warm to it. At all. Dried pasta, at Molisana say, would have been better.

Despite all this: what Sugo are trying is actually, genuinely, pretty revolutionary. Some of it I think they have got wrong but maybe enough of the whole package they have got right.

Sugo Pasta

70 Mitchell Street


No bookings

Menu: It’s pasta but not as you know it – all freshly made this very day and that’s a pretty revolutionary and hugely interesting idea. 5/5

Service: It’s all a bit bish-bosh, tables being shouted, people being shunted and I had a very odd experience, probably because I was eating alone and ordered two dishes. 4/5

Atmosphere: Absolutely bursting with the excitement and anticipation of the moment and all the more fun to be there. Great vibe. 5/5

Price: Just like their Paesano pizza restaurants the secret weapon is the fabulously clever pricing with a bowl of tagliarini from just a fiver, and most dishes under a tenner. 5/5

Food: Great concept, very good sauces, the fresh pastas are a hit or a miss and possibly need an overall rethink but as this is a brave, new world, I hope they succeed. 6/10