Sicilian NQ, 14 Turner Street, Manchester, M4 1DZ – Visit Now
William Sicilian was a bit of a not-so-hidden gem in the Northern Quarter, offering traditional Italian cakes and pasta out of its little site on Hilton Street, just a gnocchi’s throw away from Stevenson’s Square. As its reputation grew, as did the demand for more seating and when a nice little spot on the other side of Manchester’s snazziest area became available, William Sicilian packed up his bags and hurried over.
Now, we’re blessed with the newly named Sicilian NQ, which sits opposite Oklahoma on Turner Street, just over road from The Arndale. I say blessed because the restaurant is very good and should be treated as such. In fact, it’s so good that I’ll be visiting again soon. I do actually echo these thoughts at the end of the review, but you’ll notice I incorrectly refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as an Italian, just to finish on a pointless movie quote.
Feels like an intimate Italian bistro in any given cosmopolitan, European city
Sicilian NQ takes you out of Manchester, dropping you into what feels like an intimate Italian bistro in any given cosmopolitan, European city; that’s a good thing, especially when you’ve been shuffling around the bustling, traffic-heavy part of the Northern Quarter. The décor is expressive and the tables are simple and inviting; it only takes a few minutes before you’re settled in for the evening.
We tried the renowned arancino. Two in fact. The Al Burro was stuffed with ham and cheese, served on a basil pesto sauce. It was huge, but perfect. Ham and cheese isn’t exactly the subtle option, but I couldn’t stop myself and there were no regrets. Crispy on the outside, hot and gooey on the inside. Yes sir, thank you sir, more please.
We also ordered Mr. Mount Etna, a volcano-shaped rice ball with slow-cooked ragu and cheese, served in Sicilian NQ’s homemade sauce. Well, well, well. If my heart was a volcano, it erupted that evening. The ragu and cheese is beautiful, but it’s nothing without the arancino, which is clearly something they excel at here. The arancinos are around £7 each and they’re crafted beautifully; I can see why people talk about these things all the time.
Strong vegan options from a creative kitchen
Also in the Sicilian Street Food section are two vegan options. One is a selection of three fried chickpea flour squares topped with pureed vegetables. Punchy tapenades on a tasty base. The other is a Sunshine Bruschetta, topped with Sicilian vegetables; strong vegan options from a creative kitchen.
There’s a strong list of mains to choose from, including their rich, Sicilian take on lasagne, gnocchi and bolognese alongside Montealbano Ate Your Heart, the special homemade pasta filled with sheep’s ricotta and Sicily’s most famous pistachio.
The new bar is now beer ready and has cocktails, prosecco, champagne and a range of Sicilian and Italian wines to keep you watered; it’s an intimate space and stimulating enough to sit at all evening if you’re looking for an out-of-Manchester experience. You don’t have to eat here, but I dare you to try to go an evening without picking up a few small bites.
Sicilian NQ captures the essence of Sicily
Sicilian NQ is, by Manchester’s standards, ‘out of the way’, so it’s going to have to work hard to get the footfall. It’s one to cherish, though and it’s well worth the journey. Restaurants can serve food from anywhere around the globe, but it’s often difficult to capture the essence of a place. Sicilian NQ does that, or at least it did to me. To me, it didn’t feel like I was in Manchester and as someone who’s lived here since my arguably regrettable creation in 1987, that isn’t always a bad thing. As famous Sicilian legend, The Terminator, once said, “I’ll be back”.