Want to walk into Italy without a passport while in the UK, then go to San Carlo’s Cicchetti on King Street West in Manchester, across from San Carlo’s primary restaurant. You will not only be transported to Italy, but you will taste it too.

I feel at home when I enter the front doors. The first language I hear is Italian and for the majority of the evening I will hear and speak the same.  The staff are very friendly and you are always greeted with exuberance, always welcoming you in with a smile and gracious entry.

And the smell immediately makes you hungry, even if you just go in for a drink.  I always end up ordering something.  It just has to be done.  The food is that good.

*Confession*: I ate my lovely, fresh Octopus Salad and beautifully cooked Tagliatelle di Castagne before I even thought of taking a foto.  Apologies!

I did, however, remember (eventually) to take one of at least my dessert! – This freshly made lemon and meringue tart:

Lemon Tart - ESO Jan2014.jpgWhether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore, this tapas-esque Italian restaurant will be able to satisfy your palate.  I highly recommend giving it a try.  However, if you want a more formal dining experience, just head diagonally across the street over to San Carlo’s (primary restaurant).  The chef there is good too, but I am still partial to Cicchetti’s.  Either way, from what I’ve tasted so far, these two are the closest to true Italian cooking in Manchester, UK.  [I have yet to be proven otherwise.]

Also, the cost of these small plates is very reasonable for what you are getting.  Most dishes come from about £3 to £7.  Although, there are some dishes that may rise to about £12, but there is perfectly valid reason for the price (e.g., dishes being topped with several sliced curls of truffle, higher end fish, etc.).  As a suggestion, you should order 2-3 plates for each person (depending on how hungry you are).  There are even sharer plates, as an alternative.

The only downside to Cicchetti is the somewhat annoyingly loud announcements coming from House of Fraser in the evenings nearing closing time (they share the same building/first floor).  When they are speaking, you can barely hear the person sitting next to you.  On the plus side, they come on few and far between. And House of Fraser closes at 20:00 (8:00pm) Monday through Saturday, so it’s not so bad.

Cicchetti is definitely a great hang-out and/or restaurant.  It was even chosen by Vogue as a venue for one of their VIP events during Manchester’s first ever Vogue Fashion Night, held last October, 2013.  This venue is also winner of multiple awards and renowned for its stylish outlook and menus.  Overall, a great experience.  Buon appetito!

cicchetti2*NEWS FLASH*: San Carlo Group launched another Cicchetti in London at 215 Piccadilly last year and already they have been awarded with the prestigious Italian Restaurant Gold Award at the national PAPA Awards 2013, for their ‘outstanding eating experience – excellent food and friendly service.’  Next time you’re in London, give this new restaurant a try!

Photo credit: @eSrO_Foto

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