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REVIEW: Puccini's | Swinton

Deanna Thomas follows Sly Stallone to Swinton

Written by . Published on February 24th 2015.


REVIEW: Puccini's | Swinton
 

I NOTICED recently that Sylvester Stallone had visited the North West.

Whether you’re a cynical suburban food writer, Prime Minister, premiership footballer or A-list mega star, we all just want to be well fed and loved

He was here to film a crowd scene at Everton and to take part in an ad for Warburton’s, where he was to recreate his iconic Rocky training regime, bicep-curling loaves whilst running up the steps of Bolton Town Hall.

So where would this mega-famous Hollywood A-Lister go for his dinner? Would he want a dirty burger in Manchester? Perhaps a minimalist Japanese venue or the glam Neighbourhood might suit his LA sensibilities? Or maybe one of the trendy San Carlo’s might appeal to his inner badda-bing.

Well, he shunned all of the above and went for dinner in Swinton. I’d never heard of Puccini’s, so started asking around; “Oh yes” said my mum, “your auntie Bobbie loves it there.” “Best restaurant in Manchester, bar none” says Dave from work, to a chorus of assenting murmurs.

A scroll through Puccini’s Twitter timeline reveals images of the beaming owner, Signor Michele Pucci, with his arm around a dizzying array of sportsmen, actors and heads of state, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Signor PucciniSignor Puccini

Slap-bang in between Salford and Worsley, this family Italian restaurant in Swinton precinct has been welcoming stars of the stage, screen and soap for over two decades. Whilst we were there, a long table of strapping Antipodean rugby players and their support team were happily carb loading.

The menu screams old school classics whilst paying homage to favoured customers by naming dishes after them; ‘Penne Alla Neville’ comes with chicken, mushrooms, tomato and cream, whilst ‘Penne Alla Giggs’ is similar but with fillet steak and chilli. I’m not sure who ‘Pizza Howard’ (Parma ham, asparagus, Dolce Latte) was named after, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was Keel, Hughes or Stern. The only dish I wasn’t convinced by was ‘Scampi Puccini’ - pineapple, Pernod, cream and white wine, which sounds like it could be a duff note.

We thought we’d take the kids as it was half term and an Italian restaurant that doesn’t like bambinos isn’t worth the salt in its mozzarella. My daughter’s eyes went as big as saucers when her prawn cocktail (£8.25) arrived – plump and juicy prawns on a lively looking salad with the seafood sauce that she’s not that fond of, being offered only as an optional extra.

My son’s hearty Italian sausages (£7.50) with rosemary and tomato baked beans were probably made using the same recipe that has guided generations of Pucci’s through many a tough Italian winter. ‘Uova alla Fiorentina’ - oven baked eggs with tomato, fresh spinach, nutmeg scented béchamel and Parmesan (£7.25) was the edible equivalent of being enfolded in a warm Nonna's bosomy embrace.

Eggs FlorentineEggs Florentine

My husband’s Carpaccio of beef (£13.50) was not the pretty, fanned out cured bresaola found in modern ristorantes. This was an uncompromising plate of raw beef, simply dressed with fruity olive oil (sourced from a relatives estate no doubt), rocket and shavings of Parmesan. Portions were large but were reflected in the prices.

The kids both followed with pizza; Margherita (£7.95) for the girl and Pizza Verde (£9.95) - mushrooms, ham, salami (hold the peppers) for the boy. No surprise that they both wolfed them down.

We thought we’d go for more grown up mains. The first half dozen meat dishes listed on the menu are veal, but I’m not too keen on it; not for ethical reasons, but because the pale beige flesh looks like beef that’s not ready yet. Obviously suffering from some innate iron deficiency, husband followed his beef starter with a perfectly-cooked steak and a few overdone king prawns on top (£26.95, main image).

Pizza VerdePizza Verde

I thought I’d choose from the specials menu (in authentic seventies style brown plastic covering), Monkfish with cherry tomatoes and white wine (£19.95) was slightly overcooked with a hint of rubber but full of flavour and suitably nostalgic, as was the silver served side veg of broccoli, carrots and roast potatoes.

The dessert menu could have been subtitled ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ and our children found room for the time honoured classic sweets, crème caramel and chocolate profiteroles (both £5.50).

Creme CaramelCreme Caramel

ProfiterolesProfiteroles

The service was attentive and friendly and the multifarious staff ranged in age from 16 to 60, because in Italy hospitality is quite rightly viewed as an honourable profession for a grown man. As we made our way out of the buzzing restaurant, owner Michel came over to open the door for us and thank us for coming. When I mentioned it was my first time there I found myself scooped up into a warm double cheeked clinch while he pressed Easter eggs into the children’s palms.

Whether you’re a cynical suburban food writer, Prime Minister, premiership footballer or A-list mega star, we all just want to be well fed and loved - which is what you get at Puccini’s.

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship.

Puccini’s171-175 Chorley Rd, Swinton, Manchester, M27 4AE. 0161 794 1847

Rating: 14/20

Food: 7/10 (egg Florentine 8, beef Carpaccio 8, prawn cocktail 7, Italian Sausage 7, surf & turf 7, pizzas 7, monkfish 6, crème caramel 6, profiteroles 6)

Ambience: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Deanna recommends: for unshowy Italian food love

Give a miss: if you’re a City fan.

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

EvoFebruary 24th 2015.

Tried it a few times over the years and never quite understood what all the fuss was about. Not been back for a while though and am shocked to see the prices of some dishes, particularly given the location.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

They don't have prices on their menu, so never bothered to go

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

There is an slightly out of date menu here with prices www.zomato.com/…/menu…

Gary SilverFebruary 24th 2015.

Great service but I'm afraid food average.

jayhudFebruary 24th 2015.

Its overpriced

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

Fantastic restaurant, been frequenting the place (and its predecessor up the road) for nearly 30 years. Never had a bad meal, staff the most attentive in the North West. Prego.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

Wow looks like any other old school Italian - which can be fun, don't get me wrong - but why the massive cult following? Oh well good on them. Most Brits are suckers for friendly service, unchallenging food and celebrity endorsement. I'll have the prawn cocktail, steak (well done) and some black forest gateaux please waiter...

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

Good to some but is so 1980's.....Thin on the ground in much of Salford....

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

If Sir Alex Ferguson ate there once in 1987 it must be good.

SmittyFebruary 24th 2015.

Love Puccini's! Great food, fantastic atmosphere.

food for thoughtFebruary 24th 2015.

If you enjoyed cremated eggs for your eggs florentine then this is your destination

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 25th 2015.

My thoughts exactly. That dish looks terrible.

ScholeseyFebruary 25th 2015.

I would not step foot into anywhere that promotes Yewnited.........ever! Just sayin............

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2015.

Swinton desperately needs a Wetherspoon

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

It had similar, next to Puccinis, which always had fights and stabbings. So, I'm going to disagree.

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Latest Rants

Anonymous

It had similar, next to Puccinis, which always had fights and stabbings. So, I'm going to disagree.

 Read more
Anonymous

Swinton desperately needs a Wetherspoon

 Read more
Scholesey

I would not step foot into anywhere that promotes Yewnited.........ever! Just sayin............

 Read more
Anonymous

My thoughts exactly. That dish looks terrible.

 Read more

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