Food & Drink

Review: San Carlo Cicchetti @ Manchester

With Manchester’s iconic grey skies looming once again overhead, the stubborn drizzle of Monday morning rush hour rain and the bitter winds tearing across the Pennines, it’s clear winter’s back.

And, so – in true British fashion – out go the light, summery dishes we’ve been optimistically clinging on to, and in comes the hearty, calorific, warm winter fare.

Getting the switch right, calculating with sheer precision that point in time where casseroles replace Caesar salads and braised beef takes the place of barbeques, is no mean feat.

But it’s something San Carlo Cicchetti were more than aware of when deciding to push the launch of their winter menu back to early November, MD Marcello Distefano tells us, as we rather impatiently wait to just start eating.

With more than ten new dishes, the King Street West restaurant, nestled in the corner of House of Fraser, claims to have reinvigorated their menu with some fresh new winter courses with ingredients sourced direct from Milan.

TRUFFLE LOVER’S PILGRIMAGE: San Carlo Cicchetti’s menu features the expensive delicacy heavily, from paté to dumplings

And none more so than truffles. It’s a truffle lover’s pilgrimage. The expensive delicacy has worked its way into everything from pigeon breast paté with black truffle and toasted Altamura bread to pumpkin & truffle risotto to cheese and truffle dumplings.

Even the names of the dishes conjure up images of a happy childhood spent in northern Italy, tucking into kindly Uncle Giovanni’s traditional north Italian home cooking. It didn’t happen, but it makes you wish it did.

KEEPING IT SIMPLE: The slow roasted pork belly, with potato, cabbage and gravy is the perfect antidote to a cold winter night

Standouts included the slow roasted pork belly. Keeping it simple with a little spud, cabbage and a literal tin of gravy, it’s both reassuringly fattening and comforting.

For fish lovers, the Venetian cod, served in a scalding iron pot with onions and parmesan is creamy and tender with little to fault and much to praise.

And for the purveyors of gastronomic theatre out there, you’ll be satisfied with the risotto. Served inside a tiny baked pumpkin, it meets that wonderful combination of both functional and edible.

GASTRONOMIC THEATRE: MM liked the fact this tiny baked pumpkin risotto was functional, tasty, impressive AND edible

To finish, huge silver vats of ice cream delivered and served at the table. Freshly made to order from the basement of San Carlo, you’re given a generous dollop of creamy frozen pistachio and chestnut.

‘Cicchetti’ dishes, for those unaccustomed, are essentially the Italians’ take on tapas – designed to be shared.

But while shaking off our British aversion to sharing food might seem impossible – do it. It’ll save you a second journey back to try the rest.

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