LEE Conetta is Glasgow food royalty, with many years’ experience helping to run one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups.

Each fortnight in Times Out, she will share memories of her life less ordinary, and the food she loves to cook.

This week, Mrs Conetta shares the story of how her late husband’s beloved Di Maggio’s was born and cooks up a hearty lasagne…

When Joe and I lived in Bothwell in the 1980s, we often went to a restaurant called Da Luciano.

It was owned by our friends, Mr and Mrs Poli, and one evening, they asked us if we would like to buy the restaurant as they were thinking of retiring.

Lee Conetta with some her dishes. Pic Gordon Terris

Lee Conetta with some her dishes. Pic Gordon Terris

We thought seriously about it, and Joe even worked there for a couple of nights, but it was not for us.

However, it had sparked the thought for Joe that he wanted to open a restaurant, a relaxed and inclusive place with an approachable atmosphere.

So, Joe went into business with my brother-in-law, Mario Gizzi Snr, who was married to my sister Phyllis.

Times Past readers might know Mario’s Cafe in Fernhill, or the very famous Glasgow pub McNee’s at Eglinton Toll.

Together they managed to persuade young Mario, who was a successful accountant, to join them.

They opened the Farmhouse Kitchen on St Vincent Street, which was popular with local office workers.

In 1983, when the owners of the building had other ideas for it, the restaurant had to close, and we had to rethink our plans – what now?

We all got together to discuss what we should do. We knew we wanted to open an Italian restaurant, but not the kind with formality and white tablecloths.

We wanted somewhere more casual, a place for young couples and families, a place for children – the customers of the future - where people would feel comfortable as soon as they walked through the door.

Mario Gizzi, left and Tony Conetta. Photograph by Colin Mearns

Mario Gizzi, left and Tony Conetta. Photograph by Colin Mearns

What should we call it? I was looking at Joe and Mario and thought, why not combine ‘ma’ and ‘jo’ and that became Di Maggio’s which, with its associations with the famous baseball player, and the combination of American and Italian, was perfect.

It was scary and exhilarating designing a new business.

READ MORE: Fancy dining and the joys of French onion soup - Cooking with Mrs Conetta

My son Antony came into the business after completing a course of hotel and catering management at Strathclyde University and working in London for a while. Joe, Antony and Mario worked well together and each had great respect for each other, and Di Maggio’s grew into The DRG, which has made us pleased and proud.

It all began at that brainstorming session around the table almost 40 years ago, me planning menus, Joe dreaming up imaginative names for things, like Chicken Chicagp and Bad Ass Wings…all inspired by our love of food and travel to places like Italy and America.

We were a good team.

Today’s recipe is a classic from our early menu that remains a popular dish to this day. Enjoy!

Mrs Conettas lasagne. Pic: Gordon Terris

Mrs Conetta's lasagne. Pic: Gordon Terris



For the filling:

1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

300g minced beef

300g minced pork

Salt and black pepper

1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes

A little tomato puree

60g parmesan

For the white sauce:

60g butter

1/2 carton of marscapone

40g flour

500ml milk

20g parmesan

Pinch of nutmeg

Ready made lasagne sheets


Heat the oil in a large pot, add the onions and carrots, and sweat for about a minute.

Add the meats and brown, then add salt.

Add the chopped tomatoes and a little tomato paste – just a couple of squirts out of the tube. Rinse the tomatoes tin with a little water and add to the meat.

Lower the heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter on a medium heat, stir in the flour to form a paste, add the milk, a little at a time, and keep stirring.

When it starts to thicken to a creamy consistency, add the parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from the heat.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C, gas mark 6.

Line a 22 x 26cm rectangular ovenproof dish with the filling, arrange sheets of lasagne on top

then add the white sauce. Repeat until all filling has been used and end with a topping of white sauce and parmesan.

Cook for 40 minutes, leave to rest, and serve.