Guide

The top 5 Italian restaurants in Manchester

For what seems like forever, Italian restaurants have been the choice di moda for Brits heading out for a slap-up meal. So much so that they began to feel a bit old hat, with many a chain expanding faster than a belly full of pasta. At one point, we were a bit over it, with lesser-explored culinary territories all the rage as diners got stuck into the likes of Korean, Cambodian and Ethiopian menus with gusto. Nevertheless, while the safe predictability of the chains still frankly bores us to tears, there are some Italian restaurants in Manchester that really should be celebrated. They are inventive, authentic, and remind us why we fell in love with the food of Italy in the first place. Buon appetito!

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    San Carlo Manchester

    Italian

    San Carlo is Manchester’s most famous and, some say, best Italian restaurant. Run by the Distefano family, it’s said to have one of the largest turnovers in the UK. It’s also the place to be papped and there’s a usually bank of photographers outside to prove the point. Take your seat alongside premier league footballers, pop stars like Rihanna at this institution that’s as much a place to be seen as it is to dine. Brandy cream and lobster pasta or simple grilled sea bass with scallops al forno are seafaring highlights, or go for broke with a steak and lobster sharing platter and a big side of pillow-soft gnocchi with truffle shavings and parmesan. Meats include veal (with mustard seed, cream and brandy) and calves liver with madeira and polenta. Home-made pistachio gelato is a bit special as is the south Med wine list, with iconic bottles and prices to match. Looks wise, think whipped cream fantasy.

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    Sugo Pasta Kitchen

    Italian

    Another Altrincham success story, this Puglian-inspired restaurant opened on Shaw Road – right by the transformative Market House – in 2015. Their simple and uncompromisingly authentic Southern Italian dishes soon won them fans, as good ole word-of-mouth momentum brought diners piling in from across the region. Accolades and glowing reviews soon followed, as did a second restaurant, in Ancoats, in 2018, which is proving equally popular with local foodies.

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    Rudy’s Pizza

    Italian

    Listed amongst the world’s best pizzerias in international pizza guide, Where To Eat Pizza, Rudy’s has grown from a pop-up pizza project into a full blown word-of-mouth phenomenon. Queues were (and still are) a regular occurrence outside the original, if a little awkward Ancoats branch – opened in 2015. However, a bigger, bolder and meaner site, opened on Peter Street in 2018 following investment by new backers Mission Mars (owners of smash hit Albert’s Schloss next door), mean punters no longer face such an agonising wait for what many believe to be the best pizza in the North West.

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  • tre-ciccio
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    Tre Ciccio

    Italian

    Translating as ‘three chubby friends’ (a self-effacing reference to owner Francesco Scafuri and a pair of his portly pals from back in Campania), Tre Cicco doesn’t look much from the outside, or even the inside, at first. The ground floor of Altrincham’s newish Italian restaurant only houses a couple of tables, some giant fridges and a bar. But once you descend the windy staircase, it opens into a tardis-like trattoria. Tre Ciccio’s reassuringly short menu centres on their wood-fired oven, in which they cook variations of Neopolitana pizza and roast chicken. The wine list is similarly brisk, which works well in a bustling family restaurant.

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  • San-Carlo-Cicchetti
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    San Carlo Cicchetti

    Italian

    As the first San Carlo Cicchetti, the Manchester restaurant had a lot to prove on opening in 2010. Seven years and several awards later, it’s still going strong. Why? We think it’s attention to detail. Founder Carlo Distefano is a stickler for quality and you’ll find the same passion for produce and impeccable service at every San Carlo. Let’s just say it runs in the family. 

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