San Carlo Cicchetti

Third year of university is so much harder than I imagined, I don’t know whether this is because I went away and worked for a year, or whether second year was just easy (probably the latter), but I have never been so stressed! Unfortunately, due to this stress I haven’t had time to do any blog posts, but on Saturday I handed in my dissertation, the pain and sorrow is gone, and now I have 1 assignment and some exams to focus on. The end is nigh!

As a celebration for handing in my dissertation, Rory and I decided to head out into Manchester and see where the night took us. After much deliberation, we booked in for 9pm at San Carlo Ciccheti, very continental indeed (the late dinner that is).

We have both heard good things about this restaurant, an Italian, placed opposite to the main San Carlo, but offering tapas style Italian food. What a great idea, I love tapas, and I adore Italian food. We went in with high expectations and by this time, very hungry bellies.

After having a drink at the bar, we were seated by a lovely Italian man who showed us the menu and explained that you order 2 or 3 each (obviously going to be 3). Ordering bread to start we scoured the menu. A great range of choices including pizzas, flatbreads, pasta, meats and fish.


Having quite a big appetite we filled up on the bread quickly and ordered our 6 dishes. The ambience of the restaurant is lovely, soft music in the background, great tables and full of laughter. There is a large mirror at the back of the room, don’t be conned, it’s not actually as big as you first think.

I feel I’ve hyped this place up but sadly I am going to have to dash them. I try not to right bad reviews as I always think a bad night for me is a great night for another. But we were just so thoroughly disappointed with multiple dishes that I felt it needed to be said. However, there were some lovely dishes so maybe the chef was having a bad night.

The Gamberoni Piccante was the best meal without a doubt (of course I would say that!), Sicilian prawns with chilli, lemon and garlic. The sauce for these were incredible, even Rory, who doesn’t usually love prawns said they were up there at the top. Not a huge portion but it is tapas and fish so wasn’t expecting mountains.

Gamberoni Piccante – £8.15
The other dish which we really enjoyed was the Beef Tagliata, grilled fillet steak marinated in chilli and garlic topped with rocket and parmesan. A classic Rory choice, but perfectly cooked, great quality steak. Perfectly paired with thick shavings of parmesan was delicious!

Beef Tagliata – £10.95
Disappointingly this was the end to the delicious food, although the pizza base was very nice, it really was just a pizza, nothing that made me go wow. Another dish which was really overrated was the flatbread, this really was just like a panini, too much tomato, not enough mozzarella and too much bread. Bland, tasteless and way too costly for what it was.

Pizza Pollo Parmi – £6.65
Piadina Mozzarella – £5.50
The most upsetting was the Burrata. Now I was really looking forward to this as I adore mozzarella and parma ham and after having such a wonderful experience at Don Marco a few weeks ago (read about it here), I was very excited to see San Carlo’s take on it. Regrettably the burrata was so oily it lacked any creaminess and just tasted like oil, and the marinated black truffle really wasn’t my cup of tea (but maybe that’s just my taste buds), the parma ham was nice enough but nothing to rave over. Very simple dish but executed poorly.

Burrata – £7.95
After finishing all the food served, we realised that the Tagliatelle Bolognese hadn’t come out. We asked after it and they assured us it would be 2 minutes, after waiting about 15 minutes we asked to cancel it and get the bill. Disappointed with the food for the price you pay, all of that (5 dishes and a bottle of house wine) came to £70.

Overall, we were very disappointed with this restaurant, a wonderful idea with such great potential but sadly expensive food that was not good enough to be. They should either drop their prices, or increase their portions. Hopefully next week I will have a much cheerier review to blog about. Hope you enjoyed my post even if a little rantier than normal!

Round 2: Don Marco

Round two at Don Marco (have a look at the restaurant here). You may remember a while ago we had plans to go to the acclaimed Don Marco, but after arriving and no recollection of our table, we decided it wasn’t worth the wait. But, we decided to give it another go.

The ambience of the restaurant is wonderful, most of the seating is in an almost greenhouse style area, with heaters and greenery, and the other area is inside. We sat near the exit on a cosy table for two, a lovely Italian man seated us and gave us the menus. The service was excellent, the server gave advice on the menu, was quick to serve and very polite.

For me, Italian is all about the starters, I love all the bread, cheese and deli meat and feel this is usually the best part of the meal. For me, this was true in Don Marco’s case. Starting with the Bruschetta al Pomodoro. A typical Italian dish, with vine ripe tomatoes, red onion and garlic.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro
Bruschetta al Pomodoro – £4.50
We shared this with an antipasti starter, Prosciutto e Burrata; which was slices of parma ham on creamy burrata and sun-blushed tomatoes. I have never eaten burrata cheese before but I definitely will again, so creamy and light it was a delicious accompaniment. Although I did enjoy each starter alone, I preferred them mixed together. As the Italians say ‘delizioso’.

Proscuitto e Burrata
Proscuitto e Burrata – £7.95
The mains for me were a little disappointing, I do blame myself for this. I ummed and ahhed over a chicken and asparagus risotto or the king prawn tagliatelle, and I went safe with the prawns. Although the dish was lovely, it was a pretty simple dish that I could have cooked at home.

Tagliatelle con Gamberoni
Tagliatelle con Gamberoni – £10.95
Rory however went off the special board and ordered a beef rib with saffron risotto. From the speed he ate it, I think he enjoyed it. Afterwards telling me the beef was a nice cut, which was well cooked, and went beautifully with the risotto. I managed to sneak a quick forkful and will say the risotto was intensely creamy, perfectly cooked and delicious. This is when I realised my error…

Beef ribs with saffron risotto
Beef ribs with saffron risotto – £16.50
After the mains, I didn’t feel fully satisfied so we decided to order desserts, Rory has the eager face of a child as he immediately agrees and with one glance of the menu had chosen the double chocolate cake (tort). Me, on the other hand, pondered over the menu until focussing in on profiteroles filled with Chantilly cream, little drops of heaven (if heaven were choux pastry filled with cream dipped in chocolate – I like to think it would be!).

Profiteroles with chantilly cream
Profiteroles with chantilly cream – £4.95
Profiteroles were lovely, very traditional choux pastry and heaps of chocolate on top. The double chocolate cake (tort) however for me was too rich but Rory really enjoyed it (it’s chocolate, he always does).

Torta al Cioccolato
Torta al Cioccolato – £4.95
Overall a great range of choices, at a reasonable price. Great service the second time around, and I would go again. But next time, I will be ordering risotto and many, many starters.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post. If you have had an experience of Don Marco, or have a restaurant I should try out, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

NB. The lighting was very orange in Don Marco due to the heaters, my photography skills could not compete entirely with this light