One of my favourite memories of cooking with my mum was the nights we got to make pizza. From the excitement of helping choose the ingredients at the supermarket to the thrill of piling toppings onto ready made pizza dough, while eating as much spiced sausage as I could get away with, this was a favourite dinner way before Just Eat or UberEats was a figment of the imagination.
These days life and convenience has taken over and I can genuinely say I’ve not made a pizza from scratch-ish at home since the early 90s. Until coronavirus hit.
One of the many places that quickly changed its business model and reopened to serve the bewildered, locked down population of Glasgow was Eusebi Deli. The Eusebi family have been bringing a slice of Italy to Scotland for over 40 years, with the deli opening in Shettleston before a move to Park Road in the west end in 2015. An ever popular restaurant and deli, Eusebi’s offered cook at home pizza, freshly made pasta, ready meals and sweet treats during lockdown. Owner Giovanna made the news last week as she won a court battle to remain open as a cafe - a move that’s sure to be a pivotal point in these current restrictions both in and outwith Scotland and seemed to further the (now seemingly age old) question of what’s the difference between a restaurant and a cafe?
Bookings for Eusebi are few and far between at short notice, so I decided to enjoy the extra hour in bed this past weekend and book a collection of their freshly made pasta and pizza for a Sunday dinner. Online booking is easy from their website, and collection was simple - although involving a socially distanced queue - and handled promptly by bemasked staff.
We ordered a Calabrian pizza - tomato, mozzarella and, you guessed it, spicy salami sausage - lemon and ricotta agnolotti pasta as well as a caprese salad. Since we are now in month seven of some kind of lockdown and the only drinking we can do is now at home, a bottle of red (Fantini Farnese, Sangiovese Terre di Chieti) was a much required addition to the meal.
Boxed up in recycled plastic and vegware packaging, the pizza consists of a sourdough base, partially cooked, homemade and fragrant tomato and basil sauce, a generous ball of mozzarella and paper wrapped, thinly sliced spicy salami. Assembly is easy and the cooking time is only around eight minutes. The pasta is, again, easy to cook in under five minutes. So in less time than it takes to open an app and choose a restaurant, an Italian feast awaits.
The classic caprese salad includes flavoursome red, green and yellow tomatoes that complement the cheese and spicy rocket. Between the salad and the pizza there was a lot of mozzarella going on, but paired with the light heat of the rocket and the freshness of the tomatoes, this was an ideal side for the meal.
On to the pasta, the delicate pillowy shapes of which encase a rich explosion of ricotta. The combination of ricotta and a warm butter sauce might seem indulgent, but the lemon cut through these beautifully so that it didn't feel too much at all. Crispy sage leaves and toasted pine nuts add depth, texture and crunch to the dish. I’ve always loved bowls of herby, cheesy pasta, and this delicious dish is exactly what you want at this time of the year - quick to make comfort food - with the added bonus of not having to look out the pasta maker.
Sourdough bread is officially all the rage these days, and Eusebi’s pizzas will have you wishing you’d been eating sourdough in pizza form this whole time. Forget overly crunchy crusts as usually sported on the loaves, this base was crisp yet soft and chewy with enough structure to hold its own against the generous toppings of (more creamy) mozzarella and spicy Calibrian sausage. Oval in shape (a nod to what’s traditional in Rome) the pizza was wonderfully balanced, with the sauce and spicy salami providing a piquant sweetness against the creaminess of the cheese.
After all that butter and cheese we decided a shared dessert was best. Despite summer time officially ending, we decided to seek out the last of the season’s flavours with a strawberry tart. Piled high with fruit and syrup, inside was a mountain of snowy white, vanilla flecked, light as air cream - all sat on top of a pleasing crispy pastry base. No soggy (cake) bottoms here. All the bakery items are made on the site of the original east end deli, and if sweet treats are your bag, Eusebi Deli recently added afternoon tea home delivery to their reportage. Given how good the strawberry tart was, this is next on my lockdown bucket list.
Despite my slightly chipped plates, mismatched cutlery and mooching dog, this quick to make meal really was of restaurant (or should I say cafe) quality - which is not something you can enjoy that easily these days.
152 Park Rd, Glasgow G4 9HB
Order online: https://shop.eusebideli.com
£47.85 for two including a bottle of wine
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