San Carlo Fumo

Kate Feld

“Grazie!” “Prego!” An alarming number of waiters are bustling around us at San Carlo Fumo, saying things in Italian and smiling a lot. There is much amusement about our table, which looked plenty big enough when the two of us sat down, but now looks a lot smaller. Fitting our dishes on as they arrive becomes like a big game of Tetris. We didn’t go crazy or anything – Fumo is geared toward cicchetti, the Italian version of tapas, so we ordered three dishes each, with extra bits like bread and salad. But everything we order, we like. So clearly, we were right to order so much.

You have to admit that coming to a place like this feels like an event

Fumo is the flagship restaurant anchoring that rather imposing new addition to the Manchester skyline, One St. Peter’s Square. Owners The San Carlo Group, which have five likeable, upscale-ish restaurants in the city and loads more around the country, aren’t known for restraint. The dining room is spectacularly over the top, with a long curved art deco bar, blowsy lighting shaped like seashells and jellyfish, and an eyebrow-raising yellow and beige colour scheme. Something about it makes me imagine I’m on a cruise ship. Subtle it ain’t, but you have to admit that coming to a place like this feels like an event, even on a grey November afternoon. The décor would certainly wake you up at breakfast time. In an unusual move for city restaurants the kitchen will stay open straight through to 11pm.

A big glass of Negroamaro gets things off to a pleasant start for me, and my friend is happy with the selection of less commonly seen birras. We’re urged to try the fresh mozzarella plait, made just that morning. We do. It’s good. Creamy and tart, with the right softness about it. A piadina flatbread with a blistered crust, filled with sagey sausage and rapini, has to be one of the better sausage sandwiches in town. Roasted aubergine smeared with pesto is smokily addictive. A crackle-skinned slab of pork belly is served with a tasty little side of potatoes and a pot of gravy to pour over. Better still are Sicilian arancini (fried risotto balls): chewy outside, cheesy inside, with a spicy tomato sauce for dipping. Honestly couldn’t fault one bit of it.

It would be hard to mess up affogato – it’s just espresso and ice cream – but I’m sure it could be done. Fortunately, Fumo’s version is delightful. A dessert sampler featuring bits of some of their cakes was less memorable, with only the tiramisu sticking out in my mind as something I might order on its own when I come back. And I’m sure I’ll be back here. No, there’s nothing new or startling about Fumo, but at a time when the catering industry seems obsessed with exhausting concept restaurants, there’s something so restful about San Carlo’s tried and true formula. Grazie indeed.

1 St Peter's Square, Oxford RoadManchesterM1 5AN View map
Telephone: 0161 236 7344 Visit Now

Opening Hours

  • Monday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Tuesday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Wednesday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Thursday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Friday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Saturday12:00pm - 11:00am
  • Sunday12:00pm - 10:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near San Carlo Fumo

Photo of female percussionist

Explore@RNCM returns this June, they can’t wait for you to dive into the heart of Manchester’s leading conservatoire for a day of family fun and entertainment.

free entry
Photo of Delia Stevens and Will Pound outside on cobblestone path
MusicOxford Road
The Silent Planet at RNCM

Award-winning BBC Radio 3 Presenter, Delia Stevens and three-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year nominee, Will Pound, present an unprecedented collaboration with the youth-led global climate non-profit organisation, Force of Nature.

from £10.00
RNCM Summer Season 2024

Read our highlights from the RNCM Summer Season, taking in huge collaborative events, internationally acclaimed artists and family adventures.

from £8.50

Where to go near San Carlo Fumo

Utility Gift Shop
Utility Gift Shop

Utility Gift Shop on Oxford Road is all about products that are new, unique, quirky and cool. High street shopping at its best.

The Manchester Museum on Oxford Road Manchester
The Study
at Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum opened The Study on 11 September 2015. A reworking of the entire top floor of its historic Grade II*-listed building, The Study has been reimagined as a space designed to spark wonder, curiosity and a passion for research in all of its visitors.

Manchester Museum Tours at Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum

The Manchester Museum isn’t one of the UK’s leading university museums for nothing – it has six million objects in its stores, including a full size T-Rex skeleton, and that’s just for starters.

The Astronomer

The Astronomer is an exclusive dining space on the 35th floor of Vita Living North on the new Circle Square Development.

exterior of Contact Theatre building
Contact Theatre

Following a major redevelopment, the iconic venue on Oxford Road will be reopening its doors to welcome the public back into the building this autumn. 

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.