Padrone in Helensburgh is a cosy family-run restaurant that strives to serve authentic Italian cuisine in this little corner of Scotland. With a dining room that faces onto the River Clyde, the view from the front windows is serene come sundown and a good place to people watch in the middle of the day. There’s a rustic feel with bare stone walls, low lighting and piles of firewood stacked in corners.
At the heart of the space is a huge, domed oven - hand-built in Verona for the owners - which turns out wood-fired pizzas and adds a little theatre for you to enjoy while you wait for your meal. Service is warm and friendly with staff able to be flexible to dietary requirements should you wish for tweaks to be made to the menu. There are even gluten free pizza and pasta options so coeliacs needn’t miss out, and the dough is dairy-free to suit vegans too.
Ingredients for the menu are carefully sourced with 00 flour, homemade tomato sugo and the best mozzarellas used in all the pizza recipes. Topping options include favourites like wild mushroom and spinach or Parma ham with rocket and Parmesan, while slightly more unusual combinations might tempt the unconventional – pancetta, king prawns and samphire, anyone?
If – by some strange fluke – you have someone with you who doesn’t like pizza, there’s an expanded menu which offers risottos, pastas, sides and sandwiches. There’s rosemary and garlic focaccia to start, brought to you warm from the oven, and Padrone’s own dough triangles, which are fried and served with a garlic dip for an indulgent beginning to your meal. Pastas include lasagne, carbonara and arrabiatta so that there’s sure to be something to suit all tastes.
The drinks list brings a short but sensible selection of decent house wines, Italian beers and a few fun fizzies for the kids – think San Pelligrino or fancy ginger beer (not forgetting the all-important Coca-Colas and Irn Brus for purists).