• Viva Italia! – sampling a sumptuous winter menu from San Carlo Cicchetti

Viva Italia! – sampling a sumptuous winter menu from San Carlo Cicchetti

9 November 2015 by Neil Sowerby

CHESTNUTS, pumpkin, truffles – yes, it has to be Cicchetti celebrating the winter months with an eclectic small plate tour of Italy. An extensive preview of 10 dishes from the new menu, with prime ingredients sourced from Milan, was a delight. In-house chef Filippo Pagani is an unsung hero.

The kitchen was blowing the trumpet of new menu additions such as Venetian baked cod or pigeon breast paté with black truffle and toasted Altamura bread, but TOM only had eyes for the Pappardelle Castagne with wild boar ragu and chestnut – one of vwery few dishes that wasn’t exuberantly packed with truffle. The Castagne bit is chestnut flour, which can make rather rustic bred but the broad pasta here was delicate intexture, intense in flavour.

The lunch at the ever-gleaming eaterie (amazingly undergoing a refurb as I write) had kicked off with a another stand-out dish – bruschetta with pumpkin, onion and salted ricotta  – and the pumpkin reappeared in a gloriously gooey risotto with naturally, truffle served inside the gouged out squash. Bellissimo, as they say in Venice, where the sharing plate concept developed in gondolier’s cafes. As I write this, on a day of torrential downpours, a gondola might soon be a good way of getting down Deansgate!

San Carlo Cicchetti, House of Fraser, 98-116 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GQ. 0161 839 2233. Open all day. http://www.sancarlocicchetti.co.uk