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Restaurant review - Caffe Grande Piccolino, Manchester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 September 2017

Burrata con Panzanella

Burrata con Panzanella

not Archant

The good life, Italian style, is alive and kicking, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Caffe Grande, owned by Piccolino, offers fabulous Italian food in a chic contemporary setting in the heart of city centre ManchesterCaffe Grande, owned by Piccolino, offers fabulous Italian food in a chic contemporary setting in the heart of city centre Manchester

Style is, as we all know, something the Italians do very well. The French have style too, of course, but the Italian version comes with warmth and heart and that is what branches of Piccolino have to offer: fabulous food served in chic surroundings by staff who make diners feel like they’re part of the family.

This applies particularly to their beautiful flagship restaurant Caffe Grande in central Manchester. This was always my favourite Piccolino. In the shadow of the Town Hall it offered a setting like those local bars in the backstreets of Naples and Milan: deep red leather seats, dark wood and a touch of masculinity to the decor. So I was a little perturbed when I heard a few months ago that this Piccolino had undergone a major facelift.

I booked in with a couple of friends for dinner on a warm Thursday night at the end of August. There was more than a touch of “la dolce vita” about the experience. Caffe Grande is about twice the size of the original version and they’ve upped the elegance with a touch of Art Deco styling: chandeliers, chrome and mirrors. It’s so tasteful, not blingy in the least.

We began at the bar area with a couple of glasses of sparkling Rose Royal (£36 bottle) which certainly put the pink in our cheeks. We then took our seats in a comfortable leather booth and spent a good 20 minutes perusing the menu: would it be pasta, risotto, fish (plenty of choice) or something hearty and heavier like steak or pizza?

These are the dishes we chose and heartily recommend: Ravioli Granchio (£9.75 as a starter). This was soft pasta parcels filled with crab and lobster with a delicious wine-based sauce. Gamberoni (£9.25) gave my friend King prawns, chilli and lemon with toasted ciabatta. The prawns were succulent, so fresh and juicy, the chilli had a subtle head and really complimented the dish.

For mains, I enjoyed Dover sole (£31). It was tender, subtly flavoured with a few olives and lemon. Across the table a 225g ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce (£20.50) was being devoured. She described it as having meat that melts in the mouth and being cooked perfectly at medium rare. She also enjoyed a side of broccoletti (£4.25).

Star dessert was probably tortino al cioccolato (£6.50) a warm chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream. I had a spoonful and it was pretty special. But, as ever, the Piccolino tiramisu (£6.75) was my choice and it was perfect. Throughout we shared a bottle of dry, lemony Sauvignon Blanc Mastri (£26.25).

La dolce vita is alive and kicking just off Albert Square.

Caffe Grande Piccolino, 8 Clarence Street, Manchester, M2 4DW. 0161 835 9860

www.individualrestaurants.com

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