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REVIEW: Dom's Tavola Calda | Deansgate

Jonathan Schofield admires a proper sturdy bean winter warmer

Written by . Published on February 18th 2015.

REVIEW: Dom's Tavola Calda | Deansgate

WHAT's happening here? Are YAFIs in retreat?

For the uninitiated YAFI was an acronym coined by Confidential's food obsessive Gordo during a depressing welter of crap 'Italian' openings a few years ago and means Yet Another Fucking Italian. Most of these openings didn't actually involve many Italians.

It was good to see how people could order off the menu and Dom would cook their requests.

Then along came Salvi's (click here) which set the scene for homely and rustic yet effortlessly talented cooking. Now much to my surprise Dom's Tavola Calda is attempting to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the John Dalton Street honey. 

I say surprise because the site of the restaurant is Pizzeria Italia on Deansgate in that concrete corner of the Renaissance Hotel that forms the junction with Blackfriars Street. For most of its life from the seventies onwards Pizzeria Italia was exactly the type of can't-be-arsed Italian that still besmirches much of this city and elsewhere with terrible microwaved lasagnes and dead-eyed pizzas.

I was also surprised because the place is owned by the same people as Al Bacio on South King Street. I ate at the latter last autumn and was so blanded out I simply didn't have the will to stare my keyboard down over the thing.  


Dom and his baked bonanza

At Dom's, the eponymous Dom, the chef-proprietor of both this place and Al Bacio seems to have let himself off the leash. Take the fagioli at around £9. Take this Veneto-style fagioli and eat the bloody thing. It's a little marvel. A rich collation of pasta and borlotti beans, celery, onion and chilli cooked down and gathered together in a bowl to warm the cockles of the heart and lift the soul of a food lover. 

I couldn't catch something in the dish that was giving extra. Dom, talking from the kitchen, revealed it was sage. Excellent. The chilli really worked here too. 

Cracking for winter

Cracking for winter

Arancini can be very dull, rice balls of desert dry dreariness. The cricket ball sized cheesy offering for £4.20 at Dom's complete with an energetic Bolognese dip was never dull. The sauce gave it a lift that elevated it into something wholesome and lively.

There was one fail with some tired rocket that slouched around under the arancini.

I think ill of rocket. I wish, as with sea bass, people didn't need feel the need to toss it about with such gay abandon. Rocket should be banned for a year so we can rediscover any virtues it may have had on its return.

All good but leave the rocket

All good but leave the rocket

A desconstructed tiramisu for under a fiver was fair enough but no more. I should have tried something that allowed the kitchen to demonstrate more flair, or maybe a pastry baked from the big open oven visible from the dining room. 

That oven creates exceptional bread and here's another quality for city dwellers. If you place an order the day before you can have the bread of your choice baked personally for you for pick up the following day when its fresh and warm. 

Try Dom's.

The lively decor, the buzz, the number of ex-pat chatty Italians dining there and the sturdy virtues of the food impressed me. The service from Lee Ronan, the waiter, was excellent. It was also good to see how those people could order off the menu and Dom would cook their requests.

I'll definitely be back. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

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

Dom's Tavola Calda, 40-42 Deansgate, City Centre, M3 1RH. 0161 834 2649

Rating: 14.5/20

Food: 7/10 (arancini 7, fagioli, 8, tiramisu 6.5, bread 8)
Service: 4/5 
Ambience: 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes and so on. 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


Dom's Tavola Calda



The concrete cornerThe concrete corner

The menuThe menu


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

James CunninghamFebruary 17th 2015.

I walk past this everyday and wasn't sure because of the history of the place.. will definitely be popping in now Mr Schofield cheers!

Kath McCannFebruary 17th 2015.

Sounds great... gonna book........ I have just tried that telephone number and it's actually Parlour in Chorlton...the correct number is 0161 834 2649 :D

The CooktwitFebruary 17th 2015.

Coo, sounds like it goes on the list. Could be awhile though, so much to go at..

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 17th 2015.


AnonymousFebruary 17th 2015.

Is a bean soup really £9, or is that a mistake. Maybe some poor fool in Islington would pay that for a veggie soup - but Manchester!!???

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

The web says the menu is changed daily and today no bean soup was advertised, though the mix veg soup was a fiver or so. Perhaps reviews shoulds mention that you might not get what JS was served.

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