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Restaurant review: Borsalino brings a taste of Puglia to Peterculter

Opened by Franco Balsamo back in 1976, we find out why this long-running Italian restaurant has stood the test of time.

The pan-fried escalopes of veal was one of the dishes we sampled at Borsalino.
The pan-fried escalopes of veal was one of the dishes we sampled at Borsalino. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sinking my teeth into one of the biggest olives I’ve ever seen in my life was the moment when I realised that I wasn’t in any run of the mill Italian restaurant, I was at Borsalino.

Just like the gigantic juicy olives they serve up, this local Italian institution is as ripe, fresh and exciting as when it was first opened by Franco Balsamo back in 1976.

Determined to bring a taste of his Southern Italian home of Brindisi in Puglia to Peterculter, Franco took over Pie Jeans, a four-seater trucker stop run by Jean Dunbar.

Borsalino is located in North Deeside Road in Peterculter. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Nearly 50 years on and the restaurant which is now run by Franco’s son Luca not only has way more tables but also has a stellar reputation as being one of the finest Italian restaurants in the north-east.

As someone who doesn’t let a week go by without a pizza and pasta fix, I was more than ready to find out why this family-run restaurant has stood the test of time.


Ablaze in all its glorious shades of red and orange, the sunset was particularly spectacular as we made the 20-minute drive from Aberdeen to Peterculter on a crisp and clear Sunday evening.

Located just off North Deeside Road, the restaurant was super easy to find with plenty of parking spaces directly outside.

With its fresh white facade and sash windows, the exterior instantly gave off a cosy country cottage feel.

The twinkling fairylights and pretty decor creates a romantic atmosphere. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Making our way up a flight of stairs and into the restaurant, the couthie atmosphere continued inside where a mix of warm lighting and walls painted with scenes from Italy, created a relaxed atmosphere.

At the front bar we were greeted by a friendly server who led us through an archway and to our table.

Adorned with twinkling fairy lights, paintings of Italy and pretty shutter windows, the restaurant had a warm and romantic holiday feel to it.

Parched and peckish, our eyes both lit up when our lovely server promptly brought some complimentary bread to the table and also took our drinks order – a ginger beer and lime for me and a pint for Andy.

All the lovely little decor details creates a relaxed ambience at Borsalino. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The food

Munching our way through the free bread, we fully embraced the ‘when in Rome’ attitude and ordered some mixed olives too.

Far from the dainty olives we usually buy from the supermarket these enormous olives were quadruple the size.

In fact, I was so taken by the olives that I couldn’t help but ask our server where they were from.

As it turns out, the restaurant specially sources the olives from Italy which explained why they tasted so good.

Check out the size of those olives. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Appetites whetted, we were ready for our starters.

After swithering over the duck liver pate, I eventually settled on the asagio nduja arancini (£10).

Served on a long thin plate, the three golden Italian rice balls were provocatively perched on top of a bed of vibrant green rocket and sprinkled with asiago, an Italian cheese.

Puncturing one of the arancini balls, the enticing centre was bursting with aborio rice.

Crispy on the outside with a creamy risotto like rice in the middle, I couldn’t get enough of them.

The crispy arancini balls were brimming with a delicious risotto like rice. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Opposite me, Andy only had eyes for his fagottino di capra – a thin filo pastry parcel stuffed with goats cheese, caramelised red onions and roasted peppers, garnished with a balsamic glaze (£12).

Allowing me a forkful, I crunched my way through the light filo pastry before my tastebuds were brought to life with the distinctively tangy flavour of the goats cheese while the sweetness of the caramelised onions and the smokiness of the roasted peppers cut through.

Plates gleaming clean, we sipped our drinks as we waited for our mains.

The thin filo pastry parcel was full of surprises. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Buzzing with couples and families, it was great to see the restaurant so busy for a Sunday night.

After giving us just enough time to digest our starters, our server appeared back at our table with our main courses.

As a mushroom lover, I couldn’t resist the orecchiette pollo funghi porcini (£15.50).

And the minute that the plate was put down in front of me I knew that I had made the right choice as the distinctive aroma of the porcini mushrooms filled the air.

The orecchiette pasta was simply sensational. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

A nod to Borsalino founder Franco’s home of Puglia, orecchiette is a unique ear shaped pasta from the same region that is known for its slightly chewy texture while their concave shape makes them the perfect vessels for holding sauces.

Loading the pasta onto my fork, my palate was soon singing as the nutty and earthy flavour of the dried porcini mushrooms paired perfectly with the thin strips of tender chicken while the rocket and parmigiano reggiano added a slight sharpness to the dish.

And the pasta was so delicious that I’ll find it hard to return to the dried twist pasta I usually pick up from the supermarket.

Across from me, Andy was beaming as he got stuck into the vitello al fungi (£24), a dish made consisting of pan-fried escalopes of veal flamed with marsala wine.

Andy loved the pan-fried escalopes of veal. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

From the fluffy gratin potatoes and the wonderful wild mushrooms to the incredibly tender veal and the creamy cracked pepper sauce, Andy loved absolutely everything about this dish.

Even the fried courgette and the herb buttered baby carrots were excellent.

After enjoying the last two courses so much we decided it would be criminal not to sample the dessert menu.

Too stuffed to tackle my own dessert, we decided to share a tiramisu (£8).

No stranger to a tiramisu, usually of the shop bought variety, this dessert was the real deal.

Sweet and creamy with a slight bitterness from the coffee soaked savoiardi biscuits, we unashamedly devoured the dreamy dessert in a matter of minutes.

The tiramisu was a work of dessert art. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The verdict

It’s clear that over the past five decades, the Balsamo family have poured nothing but love and passion into Borsalino.

From the authentic Italian cuisine and wonderful wine selection to the fantastic waiting staff, every little detail was executed to perfection.

So if you’re looking for a truly authentic Italian restaurant where the food is ‘delizioso’ and the service is ‘eccellente’ then Borsalino will not disappoint.


Address: 337 N Dortheeside Road, Peterculter, AB14 0NA.

T: 01224 732902


Price: £110 for two starters, two mains, one side, one dessert, a ginger beer and lime, a cappuccino, two pints and a glass of red wine.

Disabled access: No but this is something that the restaurant is currently reviewing.

Dog friendly: Yes but only in the bar area.


  • Food: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5