Salvis is one of Manchester’s most highly-regarded Italian restaurants, and for good reason. The menu features all the classics of the Mediterranean coastline, from pizza to pasta to risotto, with a few surprises along the way.
We begin with a salami and mozzarella sharing board – world famous, as the menu states. Three varieties of milky white cheese: Bufala, smoked Provola and Burrata. The Bufala is as good as mozzarella gets, tangy and stringy, delicious and almost like an edible fabric. The smoked Provola is more divisive – my dining partner loves it, but I find it slightly overpowering, rather like a burnt tennis ball. Not awful by any means, but certainly an acquired taste. The Burafa is superb. Soft and milky, on the verge of reverting back to curds and whey. The accompanying meats and roasted vegetables are excellent too, but this platter is all about the cheeses.
We follow this with the soffietti, an impossibly addictive bowl of pizza dough balls, puffy and hot, sprinkled with cheese, tomatoes and basil. Something so simple shouldn’t be so fantastic. It’s hard to resist grabbing handful after handful of these soft pillowy nibbles, especially when there are so many of them.
A showcase dish you won’t find anywhere else in Manchester
After such hearty starters, we’re almost too full for the mains. But the Salsiccia Napoletana is too perfect, packed with huge bold flavours, thick strips of soft aubergine, diced celery and wonderfully-spiced Italian sausage. It’s a showcase dish you won’t find anywhere else in Manchester.
The seafood risotto is just as spectacular. A big jumbled pile of soft saffron-tinged rice, dotted with thick fresh prawns, sliced squid, clams and mussels. Nothing pre-frozen, nothing over-cooked, everything is prepared with pinpoint attention to detail, using the finest produce available in the city. The only negative is that by this point our bellies are too full to finish the lot.
Salvi’s is one of a kind. It stands apart in the Corn Exchange, hidden underground, far removed from all the chain restaurants and smash-and-grab diners. This unassuming but loveable space is one of Manchester’s true hidden gems with wonderfully-cheery staff who know all too well how good their food is, and are damn proud of it. It’s not just the best Italian restaurant in Manchester, it’s hard to think of a better Italian eatery in the whole of the North.
Limoncello Event reviewed by Chris Patrick
The last time I went to the Triangle – which is now called the Corn Exchange – it was in order to hang out with other sweaty, leather-jacketed youths and exchange boring opinions about music. Time’s winged chariot thunders by – and now, probably about a decade later, I enter the same location to find it converted into a big, open, airy space with lots of glass and polished metal and nice places to eat, within easy reach of your office.
Salvi’s takes centre stage, a ‘terrazzo’, like an outdoor place but indoors, with a crew of smart-suited waiters serving drinks. Nearby they have a sit-down restaurant and deli. Various sensualists had been attracted to the Terrazzo having heard a rumour about some special Limoncello that was on offer there.
This is real Limoncello, from Capri and so far only available at Salvi’s
It was offered first in the form of a cocktail, mixed with prosecco and tonic water. It was not astringent but relaxing, with mint to give it an edge, and a soft, cloudy base. You could see the various sensualists sipping, thinking, adjusting their ideas about what Limoncello was for.
The Brand Expert, a real Italian, took to the stage to explain what was going on. This is real Limoncello, from Capri – and so far only available at Salvi’s – 100% natural and made from special lemons. The lemons are larger than normal, and after growing slowly through the winter covered in tarpaulins, the peel is taken off having absorbed a year of Capri atmosphere and diffused in alcohol for a long time. There are no colourants, no aromas – just pure lemon.
At this point shots of neat Limoncello were handed out. I noticed it burning through the sinus nicely. Never mind that the day was overcast, you could tell this would work well outside on a hot day. Unlike me. The stuff on its own really had the essence of lemon, syrupy, drinkable. Chilled, never frozen.
There are no colourants, no aromas – just pure lemon
The expert continued. The liqueur was invented by a dignitary of Capri for use as an after-dinner drink at her appointments, and the company is now owned by her grandson. You need to look out for the special trademark. The company’s visit to Manchester was to promote the use of Limoncello in long drinks, which you could either make at home or, get Salvi’s to make for you, as they assuredly know what they’re about.
I will offer my readers a slight warning – this is strong stuff, and I noticed I had developed sea-legs as I walked away. Fair enough: Capri is an island in the sun, and full of real Limoncello as I was, I could almost fancy that the persistent ‘spring’ rain of Manchester, funnelling down the sooty sides of old buildings, was a sparkling waterfall under a cloudless sky. If you’re still a few years off being able to afford property on the island – no shame in that – come along to Salvi’s in the meantime and experience what I consider to be the new contender in the world of liqueurs.