Our Italian restaurants are top of the Scots

Above: People's choice winners Nunzio and Mariano Russo welcome Aldo Zilli to Volare. Below: Best chef winner Chris Rouse with wife Geri.
Above: People's choice winners Nunzio and Mariano Russo welcome Aldo Zilli to Volare. Below: Best chef winner Chris Rouse with wife Geri.

Glasgow’s finest Italian chefs descended on the Thistle Hotel on Sunday for the Scottish Italian Awards — with more than one southside restaurant taking home a coveted title.

The city clinched nine of the 18 awards including best chef, thanks to East Renfrewshire man Chris Rouse, head chef at Celino’s on Alexandra Parade.

Chris told The Extra: “To hear my name being called out in front of 700 people, and to be crowned best Italian chef in Scotland, is just unbelievable.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife and family, and my boss Claudio — we’ve been building to this together for four years, picking up best bistro awards each year, but to win this tops it all.

“Who would have thought, out of all the people going for this award, it would be a boyfrom Giffnock who walked away as champion?”

It was a great night for Giffnock all round, with Toni Dobrenko, of Fenwick Road eatery Toni’s, taking home best newcomer.

Judging for the evening was celebrity chef Aldo Zilli, who then spent Monday touring the four Glasgow restaurants run by Russo brothers Nunzio and Mariano.

Visiting Newton Mearns restaurant Volare — winner of the people’s choice trophy — Aldo said: “It’s been a very enjoyable experience. Judging was tough — but you’re only as good as your last meal.”

The chef described Volare as “homely, warm and cosy — it brings you right back home”, adding: “Italian food has evolved in a massive way. Really, it doesn’t exist — it’s all about regional food in Italy, and the provenance of food is what’s coming across now in the best restaurants.”

Chef Mariano commented: “It’s been a huge honour to work with a professional like Aldo, and winning the people’s choice award is amazing because it’s about being recognised by customers.

“Newton Mearns customers are wonderful — we have restaurants in several locations but I think here are the most loyal, love Italian food and appreciate the effort we’ve put into Volare.”