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Hamming it up; Is this new eaterie the best Italian restaurant in Glasgow? Tam certainly thinks so after sampling its amazing hams OSTERIA PIERO 111 WEST REGENT STREET, GLASGOW EATING OUT.

Byline: TAM COWAN

Thanks to the wooden tables and chairs, the dried chillies hanging from the ceiling and the obligatory memorabilia on the walls, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was just a pizza joint.

But Osteria Piero is different.

Very different.

Breathing new life into the space previously occupied by Bouzy Rouge, this colourful trattoria aims for a 'fresher, up-to-the-minute approach to Italian cooking' and, just like Ronseal, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Osteria Piero (in terms of an instant assurance of quality I should tell you that Piero himself is part of the famous Sarti family) boasts a concise menu that changes seasonally - just the way I like it - and it's a genuine familyrun sort of place.

Each and every member of the bright and breezy staff seems to know everything about proper Italian cuisine (I'm willing to bet even the cleaner's an expert) and, after serving a dish, they can't help hovering about just to make sure you're really enjoying it.

The specials on the chalkboard are not the sort of dishes you'll see on any bog-standard Italian menu and, even though it's not the sort of thing I would order, the delicately 'smoked eel Venetianstyle' was a sure sign this is a place that takes food seriously.

To be honest, I was totally out of my depth with most of the menu (it's only now that I regret not doing my 'O' Grade Italian) but I'd sensibly taken the precaution of inviting two of my pals - a husband and wife team who run their own restaurant - to guide me through the delights of Osteria Piero.

My specially selected expert duo were well impressed by everything this place has to offer.

The kitchen uses only the finest and freshest Italian and local ingredients and, in terms of a uthenticity, I was well impressed by the way just about every foodstuff on the menu appears to be preceded by an Italian place name.

For example, the shared antipasti platter featured the most amazing Campania mozzarella which had a light and fluffy texture akin to scrambled egg.

And the Neapolitan tomatoes impressed (unlike the tasteless variety on too many plates these days, they actually did taste like tomatoes).

The peppery olive oil was 100 per cent Tuscan too. But I've got a feeling Osteria Piero will soon be famous in Glasgow - perhaps even Scotland - for its wonderful types of ham.

Apart from some excellent Parma and a tender proscuitto called San Daniele (aged for an impressive 24 months) we also tried something called Culatello.

This truly wonderful stuff, according to our expert server, is taken from the centre of the ham and each succulent slice is topped with a little curl of soft butter.

Strange, I know, but it works a treat.

While everything on the antipasti platter was terrific ("It's all so fresh and bursting with flavour," commented one of my dining companions) I could have sat all day eating nothing else but the ham and savouring its really intense flavour.

Let's just say I have probably bought my last ever quarter of gammon from Asda.

In true Italian style we moved onto the pasta course and the two dishes we selected - tagliatelle with cream and parmesan and a mushroom ravioli - were perfectly cooked and quite delicious.

After another glass or two of Prosecco (the fizzy Italian wine I insist is always better and cheaper than champagne) and a fresh basket of the lightest and crispiest focaccia I've ever tasted, we moved onto our final course.

My pals had veal (deliciously tender in a rich, homemade marsala sauce) and, even though I was beginning to feel truly stuffed, my swordfish was far too good to leave on the side of the plate.

Incidentally, if you're looking for another recommendation from the main courses, one of my mates popped into Osteria Piero just the other night and reckons the Tuscan pork sausage stew is out of this world.

We rounded off a lovely long lunch (we'd actually grazed for a grand total of four hours!) with some good Italian ice-cream and a coffee which, according to the Osteria Piero business card I picked up on the way out, is the best cup in Glasgow.

Don't know if that's true (it's a lot better and cheaper than anything Starbucks has to offer) but I'll tell you something...

Based on this evidence, Osteria Piero might just be the best Italian in Glasgow.

tam.cowan@dailyrecord.co.uk

'I could have sat all day eating nothing else but the ham and savouring its really intense flavour...wonderful'

Keep track of Tam's restaurant reviews on our new interactive map on the Daily Record website.

Find the best places to eat out at www.daily record.co.uk/eatingou

TAM'S HOT PLATE AWARD

Name: Osteria Piero Tel: 0141 248 3471 Open: All day, seven days Wheelchair access: No Bill for three (with wine): pounds 140 Food: 5/5 - pretty much faultless Service: 5/5 - very impressive Decor: 4/5 - warm and colourful Toilets: 4/5 - no complaints Value: 4/5 - a fair price for top quality produce Total: 22/25 TAM'S HOT PLATE AWARD 25/25The Kilberry Inn, Kilberry, Loch Fyne, Argyll. 01880 770223 24/25Mother India's Cafe, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. 0131 524 9801 23/25Manna, 104 Bath Street, Glasgow. 0141 332 6678 23/25La Vallee Blanche, 360 Byres Road, Glasgow. 0141 334 3333 23/25The Blair, Auchentiber, KIlwinning . 01294 850237 22/25Dragon-I, 311-313 Hope Street, Glasgow. 0141 332 7728 22/25The Crannog, The Town Pier, Fort William. 01397 705589.

22/25Citation, 40 Wilson Street, Glasgow. 0141 559 6799 21/25iKafe, 138 Nithsdale Road, Glasgow. 0141 423 8128 21/25Soho, 84 Miller Street, Glasgow. 0141 221 1568 21/25The Famous Star Hotel, 44 High Street, Moffat. 01683 220156 20/25Cafe Andaluz, 77 George Street, Edinburgh 0131 220 9980.

Current Hot Plate winner is Osteria, 671 High Street, North Berwick. 01620 890589

CAPTION(S):

CARVE-UP... Chef slices the fantastic ham; TOP OF THE CLASS...Food gets full marks at Osteria Piero
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 27, 2008
Words:1010
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