Eat - New York-style delis

Two for tea

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Eat - New York-style delis

A wave of right-on New York-style delis has hit Glasgow, including Sonny & Vito, pictured. Donald Reid finds out what the fuss is about

The ampersand is on the march. Berits & Brown, Kember & Jones, Sonny & Vito, Phoebe & Floyd – all new or newish Glasgow café-delis except the last one, a kids’ designer clothes label. Still, easy mistake to make.

You can probably blame the Americans, folk like Ben & Jerry, or Joel and Giorgio, founders of landmark New York deli Dean & DeLuca. We may deride US food culture, but in certain areas they laid down a marker of quality as a key marketing asset in the food business decades before we cottoned onto it here.
There’s also the buddy factor. Two folk who rub along okay together, bring different skills to a business and believe in synergy. Twa heids are better than yin. It’s a chummier and less arrogant prospect than the celebrity (or wannabe celebrity) chef, name writ large over the door.

Sue Berits and Peter Brown opened a deli in Kippen in 2004. Progressive business folk, they have set about franchising the concept. The first to open was in Glasgow’s Merchant City last month, where Euan Mackay and Murray Hannah run an operation with obvious visual links to the original, but key differences in emphasis.

Given the downtown location, it’s more café than deli, simple but good food showcased as much through brunches and salads as well-stocked display cabinets. Wine is important too, with a decent selection available to take away or drink in, for £6 corkage, which sounds a lot but ends up significantly cheaper than similar quality wines at nearby restaurants. B&B stays open till 9pm or later serving nibbles, platters, tapas and sandwiches.

Sonny and Vito are the nine-year-old twins of Angela and Mario Pelosi. Their new café is near Kelvinbridge Underground Station, on a nice corner site that’s a bit more prominent than their previous venture, Otago, a well-respected if perhaps under-utilized bistro off Gibson Street. Stacked high with wooden shelving, packed tight with tables, chairs and displays of olives, scones and bars of artisan chocolate, it has wholesomeness and integrity. Front of house, Angela and her staff provide energy and down-to-earth Glaswegian friendliness. There’s lots of grainy wood, bare brick and a bit of Timorous Beasties wallpaper (‘They’re friends of ours,’ explains Angela.)

On a blackboard are ‘today’s tartlets’ – shortcrust pastry filled, for example, with smoked salmon, sunblushed tomato and ricotta, made in house. The menu (daytime only here) has bold sandwiches made with organic bread, tasting platters of meats and cheeses combining top-notch continental and Scottish items, Union Hand-Roasted coffee and cakes baked yards from their final destination. When it’s relatively simple like this, the concept is the easy part. It’s often a lot trickier getting the name right. Or both of them.

Sonny & Vito's 52 Park Road, Glasgow, 0141 357 0640
Berits & Brown 6 Wilson Street, Glasgow, 0141 552 6980

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