“San Carlo are in the Top Ten Italian Restaurants in the UK”
Reviews & Awards
Best multi-site restaurant brand & entrepreneur
Runner up - restaurant of the year
AUTHENTIC is a word much abused. Seasonal, too. And Italian restaurants that pay true attention to regionality are few and far between. Glossy San Carlo Cicchetti has never stayed tied for long to its name, a homage to Venetian gondoliers’ favourite small plates but in exec development chef Filippo Pagani they have a driving force in the kitchen whose roots spread wide.
So a humble nettle risotto, peasant food, is given a showcase in the new summer menu and beetroot ravioli are given equal billing – a quite ravishing dish, sprinkled with poppy seeds, not a million miles away from Polish pierogi.
Seafood steers a course, naturally, towards Venezia, ‘La Serenissima’, notably Calamarata con granchia– short pasta tubes with crab, fennel and chilli (£7.95), the pasta too al dente for me but a real chilli bite in there. Trumped, mind, by a rival pasta dish from old foe Florence – Strozapreti with asparagus, fennel, peas, mint, broad beans, mascarpone and pine nuts (£7.90).
Favourite dishes of the tasting, though, was Prosciutto-like cured lamb sliced thin and served with mint, tomatoes and pistachios.
Filippo told us: “For me, the best cooking combines great simplicity with great taste and for an Italian, eating seasonally is a way of life, it means you’re eating fresh ingredients at the height of their flavour. In June and July, asparagus, peas, broad beans, peaches and lemons come into their own. Our new dishes celebrate the best of the new season’s produce using dishes from Florence, Cortina, Venice and Abruzzo.”
From the latter rustic region came divine lamb cutlets roasted in hay with rosemary and thyme (£8.95, above). We look forward to their handling of porchetta – stuffed, boneless slow roasted pork – at the upcoming Festa Italiana in Cathedral Gardens.
Neil Sowerby, Taste of Manchester
Fifty metres of pizza, porchetta and a prosecco bar are all on the menu at Manchester's first dedicated Italian food festival.
Festa Italiana, organised by family-run restaurant group Salvi's, will turn Cathedral Gardens green, white and red from June 23 to 25.
At the heart of the festivities will be a food court where Salvi's will be serving Neapolitan specialities, along with San Carlo Cicchetti, which will be carving up porchetta - the Italians' answer to hog roast.
West Didsbury pizzeria Proove will also be firing up its portable wood oven for the event, and there'll also be fresh pasta dishes from The Pasta Project, stuffed focaccia from Tigellae, Sicilian specialities from Mr Roll, more pizza from I Knead Pizza and Aperol sorbet from the Cabrelli Brothers.
Festival-goers can also look forward to an Aperol spritz bar kitted out with moped seats and hammocks, plus dedicated prosecco, limoncello, Peroni, Moretti and San Pelligrino bars.
Salvi's will also be serving up 50 metres of pizza on the final day of the festival in an attempt to smash the 20-metre record they set at last year's Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
Owner Maurizio Cecco will be demonstrating some of Salvi's favourite dishes in a Live Cookery Theatre, along with Dylan Thomas of Gusto, Filippo Pagani of San Carlo, Michele Magnotta of Proove, Lewis Drewe of Veeno, and Carlo Molon who is flying over from Milan for the occasion.
The event promises to be a real family affair, with a group of Italian nonnas showing festival-goers how to make pasta, and plenty of kids' activities including pizza-making, pasta-decorating, face-painting and balloon-modelling.
Festival-goers can take home some goodies from an Italian food market, where producers will be selling meats, cheeses, oils, wines, gelato, prosecco, focaccia, cakes, pasta and more.
A live Italian band will be playing loud, lively, foot-stamping tunes throughout the festival, with a few Manchester classics thrown in for good measure.
Emily Heward, Manchester Evening News
Should we let the weather dictate what we eat, or should we let food influence our mood?
Surely if you head towards a good Italian restaurant, order a long cool aperitivo along with sharing platters and ripe, grilled seasonal vegetables, you can create the illusion of an Italian summer, no matter whether it’s sunny or rainy outside.
While the rain lashed against the windows of San Carlo Cicchetti this week, thanks to the excellent food and wine, we were utterly transported to the sunnier climes of Florence, Cortina, Venice and Abruzzo. The award winning restaurant’s new summer dishes reflect Cicchetti’s food philosophy of selecting and importing the finest native seasonal ingredients and allowing them to shine.
San Carlo Group’s Executive Development Chef Filippo Pagani, a native of the mountains of Cortina, has developed these new dishes to reflect very local, regional Italian flavours and this was most apparent in a seemingly simple starter of burrata with Datterini tomatoes (£7.95). This classic mozzarella cheese and tomato salad combo is well tried and tested but, thanks to the high quality of ingredients, Cicchetti’s summer version has much more intensity.
Their Puglian burrata is so soft and creamy it almost defies gravity by not breaking free from its delicate outer shell and oozing all over the plate. Datterini tomatoes in season are utterly special; small and slightly elongated, these ripe, sweet tomatoes are grown in sunshine and picked when they reach their optimum flavour, before being shipped directly to San Carlo restaurants.
“For me, the best cooking combines great simplicity with great taste and for an Italian, eating seasonally is a way of life, it means you’re eating fresh ingredients at the height of their flavour,” said Filippo “in June and July, asparagus, peas, broad beans, peaches and lemons come into their own.”
But let’s not forget how masterfully the Italians do comfort food; risotto and rich pasta dishes are the edible equivalent of climbing back into a fresh warm bed. We tried two silky and comforting risottos which, although not officially on Cicchetti’s new menu, are likely to be offered as specials throughout the summer months; risottos ortica and mandorle are both quite different but equally satisfying. The former is based around the more unusual nettles; fresh, tender, soft green sprigs of late spring, which had been enhanced by onions and the addition of lots of cheese. Sicilian mandorle was dotted with prawns in the half shell and enriched with almonds, good seafood stock, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. If you see them, order them.
The Italians do vegetables very well – although to be fair, not much needs doing to them at the height of the summer season to bring out their best qualities. Many committed carnivores have happily tucked into satisfying spring and summer pasta dishes without a second thought as to whether they contain meat or not. Take the hearty strozapreti (a pasta shape which strangely translates as ‘priest-strangler’) from Florence, which utlilises the best of the season’s market offerings; asparagus, fennel, fresh peas, broad beans and mint and binds them in creamy, diet-busting mascarpone cheese (£7.90).
Equally rich was a luxurious bowl of calamarata con granchia (£7.95), a Venetian dish of short pasta tubes bound with intensely flavoured crab meat, fennel and a hint of chilli.
From Abruzzo, gorgeously tender lamb cutlets with rosemary and thyme, baked in hay to seal in their meaty juices (£8.95). There’s only so much ground you can make by eating these politely with a knife and fork, so we recommend you sit in a corner and pick them up with your hands. You might want to do the same with their new Tuscan pork ribs (£8.50).
Save room for dessert - it’s a little known fact that the chefs at San Carlo make all their own gelato, desserts and pastries.
Cicchetti is part of the award winning family owned San Carlo Group of Italian restaurants and is open 7 days a week including bank holidays.
For more information about Cicchetti Manchester go to www.sancarlocicchetti.co.uk
Deanna Thomas, Manchester Confidential
Situated in the vibrant business area off Colmore Row by the Cathedral in central Birmingham is Fumo (meaning Steam or Smoke in English) which is an exclusive-feeling Italian restaurant and cocktail bar and is part of the San Carlo group, which in our opinion are some of the best Italian restaurants we’ve visited in the UK, with the Bristol one on Corn Street being a long standing favorite of ours.
Genuine Italian cuisine and knowledgeable friendly staff remain a constant thread of the group, which extends to this Fumo branded restaurant we are reviewing today. There is another Fumo in Manchester. With an excellent and extensive menu, it offers an usual but interesting choice as all the dishes are smaller tapas style which the restaurant recommend each person orders two or three separate dishes. It’s a great way to enjoy food especially if you’re in a large group and are tempted by more than one thing on the menu!
We ordered six dishes in total for two of us which was plenty as the dishes are slightly bigger than a normal tapas size dish.
Polpette Beef Meatballs in tomato sauce - very tasty!
We can highly recommend the lamb cutlets which were absolutely delicious! The ambiance and friendliness of the staff really make this an excellent restaurant and the extensive wine list compliments the whole experience.
With easy to use WiFi and plenty of parking close by, as well as public transport with it being so central, we are pleased to give Fumo Birmingham Five Forks based on today’s review and will definitely be visiting again soon.
What we ate and drank:
1 x Spaghetti Bolognese
1 x Lamb Cutlets
1 x Meatballs
1 x Basilicata Pizza
1 x Venetian Salt Cod Croquettes
1 x Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
1 x Bottle of Dry White Italian Wine
1 x Bottle of Still Mineral Water
Total Including optional service £71.00
1 Waterloo Street
tel: 0121 643 8979
Fear on Food Rating: 5 Forks
Leon Fear, Fear Group
It was one of the first Italian restaurants to open in the city and was a regular haunt for footballers, television stars and politicians.
It was ‘the’ place to be seen and guests even asked to be seated in the window so they were sure to be spotted.
And 40 years on, the legendary Flying Pizza restaurant in Roundhay is still flying the flag for Italy. It marked its 40th anniversary with a party and lunch cooked by celebrity chef Aldo Zilli, and the unveiling of a revamp worth more than £200,000. A new terrace with a retractable roof, allowing for instant al-fresco dining, was the spot for the party attended by former customers and staff members, including previous owner, Adriano Piazzaroli who came over from Italy especially for the event. He said: “I came to Leeds in 1959 and I came to Flying Pizza as general manager in 1975. I got a share in 1984 then bought it by myself.” Adriano sold the restaurant in 2002 to Carlo Distefano who now runs the family business with his son Martello. Adriano added: “I have been back a few times over the years as my son Ricardo still lives in Leeds. “Carlo is doing a fantastic job but it is something special for me to come back here for the 40th anniversary and see old clients and friends.”
Martello said the family business now comprises 18 restaurants but Flying Pizza is the one that is closest to his heart. He said: “I have been coming to Flying Pizza since I was 10 – we would come as customers every Sunday. “Because we have grown up here it is quite personal to us.”
Yorkshire Evening Post
Iconic Roundhay restaurant Flying Pizza celebrated its 40th birthday with a very special reunion.
Thursday 2nd February saw founding owner Adriano Piazzaroli jet in from Italy to join long-time friend and current owner Carlo Distefano and celebrity chef Aldo Zilli, to toast the 40th year and celebrate the launch of a new, stylish dining terrace, complete with retractable roof.
With Adriano at the helm, Flying Pizza became one of the most famous restaurants in Leeds. After seventeen years at the top Adriano returned to his native Italy to concentrate on his food and wine export business.
Carlo Distefano, Chairman of the multi-award winning San Carlo Group, which also owns San Carlo on South Parade, along with seventeen further contemporary Italian restaurants, bought Flying Pizza six years ago in February 2011.
During the intervening years after Adriano left the business, Flying Pizza had lost its sparkle, eventually falling into administration.
Former Roundhay resident Carlo Distefano and his family, who were friends of Adriano’s and often ate at Flying Pizza in its hey-day, stepped in to acquire the business, with the aim of restoring it to its former glory.
Now, six years on, following a lavish refurbishment and continued investment, Flying Pizza has seen a return to success.
The celebration saw owners past and present reunite to toast the anniversary and the launch of a new chic dining terrace which seats close to 100, with a stunning feature olive tree and a retractable roof for instant alfresco dining, should the weather allow.
The perfect place for a celebration with friends or family or an intimate romantic occasion, the terrace offers atmospheric dining in a beautiful setting.
Commenting on the occasion, Carlo Distefano, Chairman of San Carlo Group Restaurants said:
“I’m thrilled to welcome my old friend Adriano back to Flying Pizza, the place he created all those years ago. We’ve been friends right back from those early days here, when we lived in Roundhay. In fact, it was Adriano I went to for advice when I wanted to open my first restaurant, he was so helpful and we’ve remained firm friends. It only seemed right that he was here to celebrate 40 years of Flying Pizza with us today.”
San Carlo Group’s Celebrity Chef Consigliere, Aldo Zilli also joined the reunion, cooking up a special anniversary meal to mark the occasion.
Open seven days a week from noon until late, Flying Pizza believes attention to detail is critical to its success. All dishes are made on the premises from scratch using only the finest seasonal ingredients, many of which are sourced locally in Yorkshire or flown in from produce markets in Sicily and Milan.
Yorkshire Food Guide
Italian born Zilli, Executive Consultant Chef for San Carlo group of eighteen award winning UK restaurants, jetted in to Birmingham from his birth place in Abruzzo, Italy, with a rare white winter truffle on Friday 28th October.
Aldo returned to Abruzzo to personally select the rare white truffle, so highly prized it’s known as the king of the culinary world. The edible buried treasure was discovered by professional truffle hunters in the national park of the Abruzzo region using specially trained dogs.
Fetching up to £4,000 a kilo, the white fungi are prized for their aromatic qualities and unique taste, growing deep in the soil under trees; they can only be harvested around two months a year.
Aldo handed over the delicacy, as a welcome gesture, to old friend Carmine Sacco of San Carlo in Birmingham and diners at the popular Temple Street restaurant will be able to try the world’s most expensive food for themselves.
The following white truffle menu is available for two weeks or until it’s all been eaten!
San Carlo’s Truffle Menu
• Steak tartare with poached egg and shavings of fresh white truffle
• Lobster and truffle risotto
• Tagliolini with truffle butter and shavings of fresh truffle
• Carpaccio and burrata with shavings of truffle
• Turbot with a truffle, Prosecco and cream sauce
Commenting on the prized truffle, Aldo Zilli said: “Many have tried to describe the aroma and taste of the white truffle – the Romans believed it was an aphrodisiac, maybe it is, it’s intense and earthy and the smell of it can fill a room, but you have to experience it yourself as there’s nothing like it.”
Open seven days a week, 365 days a year from noon until late, San Carlo offers diners the true taste of Italy. The menu features only original and signature Italian dishes; everything is made on the premises using only the best ingredients, many of which are flown in from produce markets across Italy.
The San Carlo Group is proud of its many accolades which include the industry leading Les Routiers in Britain Hospitality and Service award. Booking is highly recommended. For reservations contact San Carlo 0121 633 0251 or email email@example.com For more about San Carlo, visit www.sancarlo.co.uk
Before I tell you how I spent my Friday lunchtime, I feel the need to tell you that once I rolled back from lunch I found out the keynote for my event next week had pulled out. I tell you this, because the special guest star at the preview lunch I went to was a £2,000 white truffle and we were going to be some of the first to eat it. But as with most things, there needs to be a balance in life. Just, you know, not at lunchtime.
Thanks to celebrity chef and executive consultant chef for the San Carlo group Aldo Zilli, who personally selected one of the world’s most expensive ingredients from his home town in Italy, this Temple St restaurant now has a rare white winter truffle and it’s on the menu or the next two weeks, or until it runs out. Yep, that kind of rare.
A group of us were invited down to check out some tasters from the exclusive menu at San Carlo. It’s been a while since I’ve been to San Carlo, although not too long since I was at its sister venue, Fumo, round the corner. In fact, last time I remember going my friend Fran had great fun translating some of the overheard Italian, which made for a great lunch. And whilst that was a while ago, it was nice to see that San Carlo’s reputation for original and signature Italian dishes remains strong, as it was pleasantly busy whilst we were there.
Anyway, back to the truffle, which is a rare treat to have in the city, particularly of such size. This white winter truffle was found in the national park of the Abruzzo region, by specially trained dogs – and not pigs, as I thought. Prized for their aromatic qualities and taste, they grow in the soil under trees and can only be harvested for around two months of the year. So, you know, when they find one, and one that costs around £2000, you can see why it’s a cause for celebration.
And to celebrate the arrival, San Carlo have created a special menu of five dishes; Steak tartare with egg and truffle shavings, lobster and truffle risotto, Tagliolini pasta with truffle butter and shavings of fresh truffle, Carpaccio and burrata with shavings of truffle and turbot with a truffle and Prosecco cream sauce.
I enjoyed getting to taste each of the dishes; despite all having the same start ingredient all felt like they brought something different to the palette. Personally, my favourite was the tagliolini pasta with truffle butter and shavings of fresh truffle because it was so simple, but executed so well; the buttery oil slick over perfectly cooked, al dente pasta with a hint of the garlicky musk from the truffle. I also enjoyed the lobster and truffle risotto, and I know it’s pretty much heresy to admit, but I’m not usually that fussed by lobster (too fiddly).
Five courses of white truffle might well be a bit overkill for most, but it’s definitely worth checking out a dish (or two, if you can convince a dining partner to order from the menu too). But you’ll have to be quick, as the menu will only be around for as long as the truffle is. It’s expected to be around for two weeks, but booking is highly recommended by the restaurant – call San Carlo on 0121 633 0251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Selfridges have launched a quarterly campaign of bard-inspired events and dramatic fashion collections throughout the store. As part of this, San Carlo Bottega, the chic Italian restaurant and champagne bar on the second floor, will be putting on a special celebratory menu between Monday 3rd – Sunday 9th October.
We suspect Romeo might have been better off turning to these to help mend his broken heart
There is a strong link between Shakespeare and Italy, with many of his most famous plays being set in the country; the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice, to name a few. So it didn’t take much persuasion to get San Carlo’s Executive development chef, Filippo Pagani, who hails from Venice, on board with the idea of showcasing some special native dishes.
San Carlo restaurants are well known for focussing on quality ingredients and regional Italian cooking, offering customers a chance to experience more authentic dishes from smaller localities. This week’s Bottega menu features specialities particular to Venice and Verona, along with prosecco and recommended regional wines such as Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and Amarone.
Special Venetian dishes include thin slices fresh Tuna Carpaccio with capers, a citrus dressing and strips of orange peel, as well as freshly made Egg Tagliolini bound with a deeply satisfying rich crab sauce, served dramatically in a spiky spider crab shell. We were particularly enamoured by Baccala Mantecato, a comforting dish of whipped salt cod paté and black olives on a comforting crostini made from chickpeas that we hope makes it to the permanent menu. This was a perfectly balanced and more unusual dish in terms of contrasting tastes, textures and temperatures; perfect for enjoying along with drinks.
Veronese specials included San Carlo’s take of the famous risotto; Risotto all’Amarone - tinged pink with the addition of the regional wine and surrounded by delicate folds of thinly sliced Italian ham. We also enjoyed slabs of peasant-pleasing polenta enlivened by thick slices of pan-fried Sopressa salami and balsamic radicchio.
Those who crave heartier fayre to match the onset of autumn will need to rush over to experience ultimate Italian comfort food like Gnocchi coated with butter, sage and Monte Veronese cheese, a cow’s milk cheese which San Carlo had flown over especially. The gnocchi is served here in an edible cheese and breadcrumb basket.
Bigoli pasta with wild spinach and slow cooked Piedmonte beef cheeks is another hearty and rich dish, as warming as a fine Italian wool coat. Perhaps the bard got it the wrong way round and it’s actually food that is the music of love?
San Carlo obviously never forgets how much Italians love desserts and all traditional sweet baked goods are made in-house. Along with a cup of fine Italian coffee, we tucked into Fritelle; apple pastry fritters, while dipping Baicoli (sweet Venetian biscuits) into a glass of chilled Zabaglione – sweet custard infused with Marsala. We suspect Romeo might have been better off turning to these to help mend his broken heart.
To finish, we happily picked at a freshly baked miniature Pandoro cake; a typical Veronese sweet yeast bread, popular around Christmas and New Year, lightly studded with sultanas and dusted with vanilla scented icing sugar. The ones made by San Carlo’s team of pastry chefs were light and had such a delicious golden outer crust, we’re glad they didn’t make us wait until December.
In addition to this special menu, lunchtime customers dining on Thursday 6th October from 12.30pm will be accompanied by a harp and flute duo from the Royal Northern College of Music.
Obviously any one of San Carlo’s venues can be enjoyed at any time, but those with a poetic soul who fancy the chance to experience a similar diet to their favourite Shakespearean character, have until Sunday 9th October to head towards San Carlo Bottega in Selfridges to fully immerse themselves at the point where food meets culture.