Once a year Italian restaurant Don Giovanni partner up with much-loved and multi-Michelin star winning French chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli. A regular face on TV, Novelli works with this long-standing fixture of Manchester‘s restaurant scene to showcase his cooking skills for the city’s food-lovers.
First up, gin cured red mullet with monks beard salad. It’s a pretty dish and no mistake, but the mullet doesn’t quite work with the slices of pickled cucumber, leading to too many competing aromas.
It comes with a pipette of oil and balsamic vinegar that you inject into the cheese like some kind of gastronomical junkie
Caprese soon follows, a nicely stringy piece of mozzarella perched on a bed of tomato and basil oil. It even comes with a little pipette of oil and balsamic vinegar that you inject into the cheese like some kind of gastronomical junkie. It’s a touch of silliness that doesn’t add all that much to the taste, but who doesn’t love a good gimmick?
The meat course is flat-out superb. Rose veal fillet, on a bed of celeriac purée, speckled with chanterelle mushrooms and long green garlic shoots. The veal is cooked beautifully, pink in the middle and a nice dark oak colour on the surface. The stars of the show are the garlic shoots. More commonly a sign that you’ve left your garlic cloves in the cupboard for way too long, here they add a tough crunchy bite to a largely smooth, soft plate of food, giving out a fiery burn with each bite. It’s an exceptional dish, packed with fresh ideas and wonderful ingredients.
Next up, homemade ricotta cheese, with quince jelly, charred tenderstem broccoli plus pea and toasted pine nut brittle. As you can guess, it’s a great combination of textures and bright fresh flavours, and the portion size is perfect, enough to satisfy without overwhelming.
All too often, desserts can feel like little more than an afterthought. Not so for Novelli’s mascarpone and blood orange cheesecake and chocolate gelato. All too often chocolate ice cream can taste dusty and bland, but this blob of gelato is wonderfully rich and, yes you guessed it, chocolatey. It pairs well with the rich mascarpone cheesecake, adding a gentle creaminess to set off the powerfully tangy blood orange. It’s an excellent way to round off a fine meal by one of the world’s greatest chefs.
Don Giovanni’s has been one of the city’s most well-known Italian restaurants for over thirty years, providing gimmick-free meals with a focus on traditional Mediterranean ingredients. Although the regular menu differs from these dishes, Jean-Christophe Novelli makes for a perfect addition to the fold and when he returns next year, it’s certainly worth booking a table.