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Salvi's Mozzarella Bar, Exchange Square, Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield appreciates the product of the humble buffalo

Written by . Published on February 6th 2012.

Salvi's Mozzarella Bar, Exchange Square, Reviewed

ClitumnoTemple of ClitumnoMOZZARELLA came into my life as an eighteen year old hiking back to Trevi in Umbria from the sweet little Temple of Clitumno.

I was travelling around Italy on my own during a gap year and it was all temples and ruins with me...and football, beer and girls I suppose. 

At a terraced roadside bar I had a sandwich as twilight came down. I sat at a table facing the hills, rubbed my eyes and thought I'd gone mad.

I'd like to say it was the first taste of mozzarella - in a sandwich recommended by the barman - that had unhinged me. After all it was a new flavour, cheesy yes, but soft and creamy, and all lush and liquid. 

But what was making me doubt my sanity were the dancing lights in the adjacent wood.

I'd been walking in the heat all day with little to drink, so with that in mind and in a kind of daze, I let the lights draw me, and my mozzarella sandwich, into the wood.

And realised I was seeing fireflies.

Magic made visible. It was otherworldly, enchanted. It seemed like there were fairies dancing before my eyes in the hot heavy Umbrian night.

So when I eat mozzarella I think of fireflies. Two first encounters at the same moment. And to be fair I also think of big juicy beef tomatoes. Because they were in the sandwich as well.

This (eventually, at last, finally) brings me to Salvi's Mozzarella Bar on the outer fringe of the Triangle in Exchange Square in Manchester.

Exterior - push open that door and enterExterior - push open that door and enter

Here I've also had glorious mozzarella and seen fat tomatoes. 

Yet Salvi's is a curious little place  - like the aforementioned Temple of Clitumno.

The intention is clearly to be a proper deli of cheeses, hams, vinegars, olives, wines and plump oil-soused take-away sandwiches of fine homemade breads laden with the edible gifts of Mother Italy - but it doesn't quite work that way.

Deli counterDeli counter

Instead at the back of the little shop lies an area of about eight covers which might become a regular hang out for me. Tastefully designed in woods and natural tints with a handsome counter, it feels genuinely Italian and also contemporary, like a bar stumbled upon in a smart square in Milan.

It's immediately obvious that this is no YAFI, our Confidential snort of derision at so many plastic Italian restaurants swamping Manchester meaning Yet Another F**king Italian. 

I've enjoyed two visits to Salvi's, the second aided by an excellent glass of smooth rich excellence in the form of a Barolo 2005 (£30 a bottle, although you get can a good 2009 Aglianico Struzziero for £20, house wines are £15 quid a bottle). 

Barolo and a flowerBarolo and a flower

The food is good too.

The Parma ham and mozzarella platter with a few leaves and juicy tomatoes chucked in and some glorious bread was pure simple pleasure for £8.95. If fireflies had been fluttering around the Wheel of Manchester I could have been eighteen again. The buffalo mozzarella is special, the softer milkier variety, in this case from a family farm near Milan. It's pure, yielding loveliness. 

Mozzarella as the starMozzarella as the star

Two sandwiches have been mightily enjoyed as well. The pick of these being the roast pork, all pesto-ed up, in a hot ciabatta (£5), which was succulent with a real piggy tenderness in the meat. Although the mozzarella and ham chappy and our cover star at the top of this page was just about as good. 

A plate of pasta, perfectly al dente, with a salty blast of capers and anchovies and titled the Spaghetti alla Salvi's (£7.95) was delightful. Big and filling. 

Anchovy, caper spaghettiAnchovy, caper spaghetti - salty, folks, cheerfully salty

There is room for improvement.

Salvi's needs to lose some of the counter space and stick in another eight tables. It also needs to heat itself better, freezing days don't do it any favours - maybe it could hire teams of fireflies to warm things up. 

The temperature problems might be remedied by a glass canopy and arcade that is soon to be hung from the front of The Triangle - the latter by the way returning to it's original name of The Corn Exchange. 

A note on the service at Salvi's, which was charming and knowledgeable. I just wish I'd taken some of that damned mozzarella home with me. 

I don't know about you but I often buy a mozzarella intending to use it in a caring, sharing, cooking manner and then end up slamming it down my throat in about five gobbles. I do this hurriedly and deceitfully by the fridge door hoping that everybody else in the house will think the massive mozzarella mouse that only I ever see is back. 

I look out of the window sheepishly as I munch. Sadly, there are no fireflies in my Old Trafford back garden. A fox every now, the odd frog and best of all a jay, but no prancing living lanterns in the trees.

It's all about longtitude and latitude in the end. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


The Triangle, Exchange Square, Unit 22B, Manchester M4 3TR, 0756 337 5135 

Rating: 15/20
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

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, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Mozzarella and ham sandwichMozzarella and ham sandwich

More grubMore grub

Fireflies In An Italian WoodFireflies In An Italian Wood

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

JoanFebruary 7th 2012.

Jonathan. Have you made this place up? I've never seen it. What was it before? I love eating Mozzarella in Italy, but in the UK so many places serve it too soon after bringing it out of the fridge. Will try this soon.

boatmanFebruary 7th 2012.

Yeah I've been there....it's good! They care....

Lorraine ByrneFebruary 7th 2012.

Hi, is this more a lunch time deli place or could it be a dinner venue?

1 Response: Reply To This...
CobbydalerFebruary 12th 2012.

We were in today. Unfortunately they'd run out of the smoked Mozzarella, but the Mozzarella & pancetta sandwiches were great.
On the table was a note saying dinner with Italian lessons £20...

James SmithFebruary 7th 2012.

Look forward to tryjng this place out for lunch. I heard about a while ago. Glad to see it doesn't dissapoint.

ZbibizFebruary 7th 2012.

I love this place but have to agree, automatic doors make this place freezing, even if you are tucked into the back!!

Nikki GFebruary 7th 2012.

must check it out............ love mozzarella.........love Italy

Suzanne JohnsonFebruary 9th 2012.

Great little place for drinks and a bite to eat. Fabulous, attentive staff - you feel like you are welcomed into their kitchen! Little cold due to automatic doors, but doesnt put us off going - in fact we are now weekly visitors. Really recommend the place - looking forward to the summer when they will have tables outside. Give it a try!

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Stumbling out of The Corn Exchange on Saturday armed with a hungry 2 year old and a Salvis £10 meal deal voucher rewarded us with one tasty meal. Everything on my plate delivered food joy. Equally pleasing was the wonderful welcome from the owners. Big thanks. We'll be back !

MaggieFebruary 21st 2012.

Haven't eaten in Salvi's yet but I've just had a bog standard ham and cheese sandwich raised to a slendiferous standard of flavour by adding some of Salvi's sun-blushed tomato and black olives to it. Can't wait to try one of their platters......x

AnonymousMay 15th 2013.

Visited Salvi's yesterday for an early meal prior to seeing Eric Clapton at the MEN. Cannot recommend highly enough. We had the mozzarella to start, complete with olives, rocket, olive oil, fresh herbs and courgettes - delicious. We asked for garlic bread and were treated to toasted bruschetta with garlic, oil, fresh oregano and basil and a touch of parmesan which was, without doubt, the best we have ever tasted. Our main was the shared saffron, mushroom and onion risotto - freshly prepared in front of us and which was out of this world. The staff were so attentive and welcoming. We will definitely come back to this place again and again. Thankyou.

LorisMay 17th 2013.

I ate there yesterday and actually I didn't get a good impression. The food wasn't so special and it cost a lot. What's more, I speak a bit of Italian and I noticed they tend to make a fool of their costumers.

AnonymousOctober 19th 2013.

LORIS i speak a LOT of Italian and i have never heard them make a fool of their customers i think you need to get a life or maybe you are a professional complainer? Honestly if you think £10 per person for a huge bowl of pasta and a platter to share of three mozzarella including a smoked buffalo one with rucola, pepparoni (Peppers) funghi, olives is expensive you need help! We took a 18 month old on Friday and he loved it ate what we ate Maurizio made a real fuss of him, i had been the day before and i love vongole and they had been to get me some fresh vongole which were delicious and there was not one closed one! Also they have canonli which I love i you do not get in many places , maybe you should to Jamies pseudo italian where he serves aberdeen angus burgers and chips as typical italian fare and has a childrens menu which you NEVER see in italian restaurants!

AnonymousOctober 19th 2013.

excuse the spelling should say canoli (siciliana)

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