“ Italian restaurants in Manchester „
For some reason I've find it really difficult to find a decent Italian restaurant in Manchester. I want the small local-ish friendly ones where they are glad to see you instead of looking at you like you've disturbed them.
Every Italian restaurant in the centre of Manchester wants to take the crown of San Carlo as 'THE' Italian restaurant to go to, why? Because that's where the footballers go, I hear the food is average(ish) but if you want to see Wayne Rooney cast his dirty eye that's the place to go. But gossip is starting to say San Carlo may be losing its popularity..........
But we didn't go there! After a bit of a wander and an abortive attempt at Pizza Express, I and my daughter ended up at San Rocco. It's a very nice looking place, nice enough looking that we would have looked too scruffy to go in on a weekend, but smart enough for a Monday.
It is a lovely place, snowy white tablecloths, sparkling glasses and shiny cutlery. The waiters are friendly showing you to your table, pulling out your chair and unfolding the napkins.
Forgoing the extensive wine list which ranged from a £10 house wine up to £200 champagnes, we settled for a coke and a Magners (showing the common touch here!)
The menu is quite large and decidedly tempting, with its pizzas, pastas and so say traditional Italian dishes. I had to be dragged away from the veal which was a bit expensive!
In the end I went for my favourite starter, Pate all moda nostra - Chicken and liver pate with onion marmalade, my daughter Funghi al Gorgonzola - Mushrooms stuffed with spinach and Gorgonzola cheese. When it came I was slightly disappointed. I could really taste the chicken, and there were only 2 very small pieces of toast, however the side salad and dressing was better than the pate. My daughter was far more impressed with her starter which disappeared rather swiftly.
She also adored her main course, she loves the vile thing that is goats cheese and had Penne Caprino - Penne with asparagus, sundried tomatos and goats cheese. San Rocco are generous with their main portions if not with their starters and described it as lovely, the asparagus cooked perfectly and the goats cheese melted perfectly, but she couldn't manage it all.
I enjoyed my Papadell All Antrate, ribbon pasta with crispy shredded duck, honey and chilli, I know it doesn't exactly sound Italian with the shredded duck and chilli, but ducks my favourite meat so had to try!. And again I was also disappointed. It was lovely and creamy, but the chilli wasn't really noticeable, the chef was a little light-handed with it. He was perfect with the honey though and not over sweet. The disappointment was the duck, there was some, but it definitely wasn't crispy and actually there wasn't much of it.
Did I just get unlucky? I have my own theory and a good tip! Don't go to a restaurant on a Monday night, you'll get the leftovers from the weekend. That is what I got, the last of the roll and definitely the last of the duck. They obviously didn't want to cook a new piece for me, but to be honest I would expect at least half a breast of duck which I didn't get.
Would the desserts also disappoint? Oh, but no they were absolutely fabulous, a generous chocolate sponge with an inside of melted chocolate. Sharing the dish with pouring cream. It was delicious, the sponge nice and warm, and the centre just the right temperature, not molten lava chocolate which takes the skin off your tongue. I'm guessing warmed through in an oven rather than zapped in a microwave.
The service throughout was impeccable, the food came out at appropriate times, we digested before the next course came out. And when I accidentally spilled some of the chocolate sauce onto my top a damp cloth was discretely brought over for me.
So I enjoyed but I was disappointed. I was disappointed but would definately go back and am looking forward to doing so. Why? Well, I'm encouraged by my daughters meals and the fantastic service, my food was actually good, it just lacked the touches.
San Rocco actually shows real potential and I'm sure it will be perfect next time. But next time won't be on a Monday night.
The meal including drinks cost £49
Note to readers: If you do visit San Rocco the food I have described may not be available, they have several other restaurants in Manchester and the menu changes between restaurants.