Bar Vini


A CALIFORNIAN sun is being poured over Glasgow’s Victoria Road tonight, drenching those sitting outside in thick August gold while inside Bar Vini, in a part so deep and dark and shady that I peer to read the menu, I sit in a zen-like state seduced by soothing waiting staff, that flickering candle and a hypnotic slushy beat that I at first take to be a tired dishwasher pump but Shazam informs me is actually Groove Armada featuring Will Young. Hey, who knew?

So cool is this skool that they don’t even have a phone number. Relying instead on the crackling wildfires of Tik-Tok, Facebook, Instagram and a tiny, tiny email address to drum up business in this little stretch of restaurants – the hippest on Glasgow’s south side.

I virtually begged (by email) for a table tonight and was only squeezed in for a 45-minute or so slot when someone cancelled. Yet now I’m here and can see there are a few more empty spots than the cheeky monkeys perhaps made out, I’ll be invited to stay on way longer than that crazy deadline. Phew.

At some point when I’m mooching my way alternatively through a moist, friable, light yet bouncy and squeezy focaccia and taking bites from super-cleanly-fried man-sized arancini, gooey cheesy and hot rice sending steam a-rising I’ll ask one of the waitresses if the chef is Italian. The answer? He was. Uh? But now there’s a different chef. I think.

I’m not really clear on this, but it’s harder everywhere to chat with staff in modern mask-land. I ask anyway not because I’m from the Italian pasta police but simply because the pasta dishes are Instagram-beautiful. Heaps of crisp breadcrumbs tumble into a clean white bowl from the languid paccheri ragu, shavings of fried garlic winking like jewels. As my fork explores I uncover hunks and chunks of clearly slow-cooked beef in a properly crimson ragu. Over at the salsiccia lasagne and beneath its still bubbly crust, soft layers of pasta separate to reveal sedimentary stripes of bechamel and a deep, dark and rich meaty sauce.

Yep, I have dumbly ordered two very similar dishes, I now realise, having rapid-fire chosen from the short, succinct menu and decided on a whim that I didn’t fancy either gorgonzola walnut ravioli or gnocchi puttanesca tonight. My mistake.

As I sit anyway anticipating this food I’m reminded of my cousin Adrian Cocozza, a genuinely marvellous human being, who once laughingly confided in me that he needed a bowl of pasta every day, and that meant every single day. And I can understand that.

This pasta then? Heaped platefuls, beautiful presentation, the actual pasta not physically made in here I’m earnestly told but imported from Italy (think about that) and while the lasagne is lush, deep and filling I get very little flavour of the salsiccia or Italian sausage.

Hard to fault the visuals on the pacheri too or the bursts of flavour from those toppings and cheeses. But…I think both pasta dishes are surprisingly under-seasoned, surprising given the arancini were perfectly weighted, and are they perhaps just a bit more bling than bang? Yes, seasoning is a personal matter – but you got to salt that water.

I’ll order up a crunchy, crispy, oozy cannoli just to see what it looks like then surprise myself by eating my way through the whole, (fairly substantial) before I turn the light on my phone on and realise I’ve just finished and enjoyed a Nutella version. And I don’t even like Nutella.

A final word of Bar Vini. Of course I couldn’t resist reading through their Google reviews while sitting here, of course I was then expecting some exciting fireworks between owners and customers (if you believe Google). While I ate, of course, there were none. In fact it was a very pleasant place to be.

Bar Vini

80 Victoria Road


Menu: Simple and short selection of pastas and a few starters including arancini, antipasto and a decent focaccia in a bar-like setting. 3/5

Service: Smooth, friendly, efficient and pretty warm given mask-life. Hard to fault except they were a slow off the mark when the meal was finished. 4/5

Atmosphere: This used to be a bar for bus drivers called The Depot, now it’s a calm, relaxing wine-bar-ish restaurant for the Instagram world. I liked it. 5/5

Price: There was a meal deal of sorts on when I was in but I paid full-fat prices of around a tenner for a pasta and £4 to £6 for the starters. Pretty good. 4/5

Food: Lovely focaccia, clean and moist arancini and pasta dishes that looked like movie stars. Dropped the ball a bit with the seasoning but otherwise pretty pleasing. 6/10