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Salvi's Cucina Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield on the 'genuine' appeal of a John Dalton Street newcomer

Written by . Published on August 14th 2014.


Salvi's Cucina Reviewed
 

REVIEWERS often get accused of favouritism. It goes with the territory.

With food and drink I've been accused of undue love for certain restaurants by readers, other operators, chefs, bloggers and lawyers.

You put your fork in the food, the food in your mouth and you're out on a terrace in Capri, sea twinkling below, Vesuvius in the distance - in four seconds flat.

They're absolutely right.

I'm guilty as charged. 

That's because there are certain restaurants that do things so well I don't have a moment's concern recommending them to friends, family, visitors, other food and drink writers, lawyers and bloggers.

There's a list coming up in this article of some of my faves.

Salvi's Cucina on John Dalton Street is one of these as was the original in the Corn Exchange (click here) - soon to move into a 'pavilion' while the latter building is renovated. 

This handsome pair of operations are products of Maurizio Salvi's passionate belief in doing things right. The restaurants are rooted in Campania, the region centred on Naples, as is the owner. In some respects when we think of classic Italian food - its freshness, its lightness, its quicksilver character - it's this region we're thinking of, pizzas, seafood, zest, ciao bella. 

Salvi's Cucina

Salvi's Cucina

The key to Salvi's Cucina is the way all that southern Italian Mezzogiornoness is packaged, parcelled and delivered to the table.

When the kitchen and Maurizio are on form you put your fork in the food, the food in your mouth and you're out on a terrace in Capri, sea twinkling below, Vesuvius in the distance - in four seconds flat.  

Take the black spaghetti with clams, baby squid, mussels and oceanic goo at the bottom (£13.95). It was just perfect and not only because the pasta was spot on or the seafood anything but delightful but also because of the shredded lemon zest which elevated the whole dish to unexpected heights.

Spaghetti wow

Spaghetti wow

Thus, for about 0.000001p the kitchen with excellent raw materials and a leap of imagination created pure culinary joy. The picture of the aftermath is below and my mother would be proud of such a clean plate.

All gone

All gone

The owner's mum was visiting Britain on this occasion and she was proud of me too.

Senora Teresa and Senore Maurizio

Signora Teresa and Signore Maurizio

The fritti are some of the best I've ever tasted here or in Italy. Perhaps the best. Particularly good are the fried calzoni (£6), moist, juicy, ripe with flavour with various toppings and fillings including mozzarella, ham, pomodoro. Sometimes these even come as surprise packages sharp with heat and spice. 

Salvi's Cucina


 

Calzoni fritti- get some

Bread and olives, fried seafood, arancini, fried vegetables, superb pasta dishes, including exemplary puttanesca at £9, and hallmark platters of hams and burratas, are all lovely. A classic pacheri dish, thick Neapolitan pasta with meat sauce, is superb. 

Pacheri - fills you right up

 

Pacheri - fills you right up

The seafood risotto for £12.50 was another ocean of perfection, good-looking, tempting, oily, rammed through with flavours.

Even the bloody gnocchi with pork sausages (£12.50) work. I usually find gnocchi wanting in character as if this were Italian food determined to be boring. Not here.

Seafood risotto - rammed with flavour

Seafood risotto - rammed with flavour

It's with the pasta, calzoni and fritti where the genius of Salvi's Cucina truly resides although other meat and fish dishes such as the salsiccia e friarielli (sausages and wild broccoli, £14.50), and baccala alla Napoletana (salted cod with capers, olives and garlic in tomato sauce - (£15), don't disappoint.  

What's interesting is that Salvi's sits opposite big boys Restaurant Bar and Grill and Bill's Restaurant and easily holds its own. It might be David v Goliath in terms of operation and back-up but that doesn't seem to matter.

Anchovies party on puttanesca

Anchovies party on puttanesca

I put Salvi's up there with my trusted eating dens in city centre Manchester, ones I've recommended to guests and they're reported back favourably: 63 Degrees, Australasia, Almost Famous, Cicchetti, Gorilla, The Great Wall's real Chinese menu, Blackhouse Grills for oysters and starters, Koffee Pot for breakfast and haggis, Mr Cooper's, Room, Sam's Chop House, Solita, Smoak for steaks, sundry NQ curries, Umezushi, Yuzu, Yang Sing, Zouk and The French and Manchester House for showing-off.

If I have a worry for Salvi's Cucina it lies with the owner - so much depends on Maurizio Salvi, his personality, his determination to do things right. 

Bread and oil - already somewhat chewed

Bread and oil - already somewhat chewed

Anybody who's been a hands-on leader knows this is always the problem. Salvi's Cucina needs to find someone beyond Maurizio, just as Piccolino in Clarence Street is all about Ettore, it will become a problem unless a similarly enthusiastic and knowledgeable lieutenant is found. But enough of that. For the moment let's just enjoy the place.

The words 'authentic' and 'genuine' have become devalued by chains talking promotional bollocks. On those giddy ad-puff terms Salvi's Cucina does not provide 'authentic' or 'genuine' Italian food it just provides Italian food; deceptively simple, gloriously rich, Italian food. The words 'authentic' or 'genuine' are not relevant: they're a given - as it seems with Gordo's discovery of Victor's last week.

What? Even the gnocchi tastes good?

What? Even the gnocchi tastes good? 

And now a warning.

Don't get giddy yourselves and grab the Amarone della Valpolicella wine on offer (£55), it'll break the bank with a flavour as complex and full as one of those ludicrous Raphael murals in the Vatican. The alcohol content is something beyond 457%. After a full bottle all you can do is moan and rub your belly.

And break the bank with another bottle. 

The Amarone is 457% in strength and will tilt your world

The Amarone is 457% in strength and will tilt your world

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

ALL OUR SCORED FOOD REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL. REVIEW VISITS ARE UNANNOUNCED AND COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF ANY COMMERICAL RELATIONSHIP.

Salvi's Cucina, John Dalton Street, City centre.

Rating: 16.5/20
Food: 8.5/10 
Service: 4/5 (but I admit I get spoiled by Maurizio, the owner)
Ambience: 4/5

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

Salvi's CucinaSalvi's Cucina

Salvi's CucinaSalvi's Cucina

Excellent coffee too

Excellent coffee too

Salvi's CucinaSalvi's Cucina

Salvi's CucinaSalvi's Cucina

Calzoni fritti - get someCalzoni fritti - get some

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

Chris Keller-JacksonAugust 14th 2014.

And I thought I photographed at jaunty angles (but never for ManCon !) One can purchase spirit levels to put on the hotshoe that will help with compositions. Other than that, it looks like a good place to indulge in a little Italian, unlike Jamie's Italian.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mark GarnerAugust 14th 2014.

He was pissed

AnonymousAugust 14th 2014.

Looks good ! But how can we be sure this place isn't yeat Another Fuckin Italian YAFI ????

1 Response: Reply To This...
pollolocoAugust 14th 2014.

go and try it you donut!

AnonymousAugust 14th 2014.

Just looking at that picture of the pacheri is making me hungry. And i've just had a sandwich too.

Jennifer Bowers-CarlinAugust 14th 2014.

We have dinned here twice . Fantastic food /atmosphere / service .

RMCAugust 14th 2014.

They need to ditch the parsley sprinkles!

Laura FaichneyAugust 14th 2014.

Ate here last night and total agree with the review - the menu looks like bog standard italian fare but don't be fooled - it's beautifully executed and so simple and tasty.

Anna GrahamAugust 14th 2014.

Always loved this place even at the Triangle. At last, a decent proper carbonara not smothered in cream!! Hopefully San Carlo goers will see the light. This place knocks the socks off it. And no pretension at all.

Kath HollandAugust 14th 2014.

Visited salvis several times since it opened. Having recently been to naples the pizzas are just as good as the real thing and the rest of the menu is simply delicious my fav is the octopus.....

Dave LawsonAugust 15th 2014.

Great Review and Great Place - best Italian Food in Manchester since Paolo's demised about 15 years ago. I met my first wife in Paolo's - magnificent porchetta.

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

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