By Paul Thornton
A TRENDY restaurant chain has vowed to dump its expensive Italian bottled water for free drink from its Scottish taps – but only if customers back the plan.
The Vittoria chain – which has two café bars in Edinburgh – has long been serving guests with £1.50 bottles of Acqua Panna, which they import from Italy.
Boss Tony Crolla said some customers are sticklers for tradition and insist on Italian refreshments to go with their authentic food.
But he has promised to serve only free Scottish water – straight from the tap – if an online poll sees fresh Scottish drink water come out on top.
Mr Crolla said: “If Italian water wins, then all the Scottish water will be used for is washing the dishes and the floors.
“But if Scottish water gets the thumbs up, then Acqua Panna will head for a very watery grave.”
He said that he has no concerns over the quality of water produced by Scotland and added there was also an ecological benefit if the bottled aqua is binned at his George IV Bridge and Leith eateries.
Mr Crolla said: “Worldwide, Scottish water has a fantastic reputation – especially compared to the likes of London water – and serving from the tap has obvious environmental and carbon footprint benefits over transporting Acqua Panna to the restaurant.
“However, some people feel that an authentic Italian restaurant should have authentic Italian water, so I’ve decided to open it up to the public to decide if it should be Scottish water or Italian water we serve.”
The pledge has sparked a water fight between Italian water lovers and champions of Scotland’s natural resources.
Helen Lennox, from Scottish Water, said: “Let the Italians stick to football, pizza, beautiful women and fast cars and we’ll do the world-class water. We are very lucky in Scotland to be blessed with some of the best drinking water in the world.
“We’re also always keen to encourage everyone to recognise the health benefits of tap water and to look to drink enough water every day to keep properly hydrated. We will be very interested to see the results of the taste test.”
But local food and drink distributor, Italian-born Paolo Veneroni, said: “When you go to a proper Italian restaurant, you want the most authentic Italian experience you can have – and that includes having Italian water.
“Having an Italian meal without Italian water would be like serving lasagne and sprinkling it with cheddar cheese instead of parmesan cheese.”
As well as asking customers to vote on their favourite tipple, Mr Crolla is organising blind taste tests – the online poll at www.vittoriarestaurant.com is open until the end of July.
It is thought the idea is the first of its kind in Scotland.