Restaurant review - Don Giovanni, Oxford St, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:44 20 April 2016
Don Giovanni, a venerable star of Manchester's Italian dining scene, has undergone a bit of a facelift, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
These are happy times for visitors to Manchester who appreciate Italian fare. There is a slew of decent Italian chains and independents but it’s worth remembering one of the restaurants which was waving the Italian flag long before Manchester evolved into the thrumming gastro-metropolis it is today. Don Giovanni opened on Oxford Street in 1984, its founders descended from the families who came from Italy as economic migrants in the 19th century. Don Giovanni was a traditional Italian restaurant. Then, as Manchester was busy reinventing itself, Don Giovanni followed suit a dozen years ago, moving across the road on Oxford Street into a glassy, modern, sophisticated new home. Well, tempus fugit, as the ancient Romans were wont to say, and that glassy, sophisticated new home has itself undergone a £400,000 refurbishment.
Don Giovanni’s facelift proves an evolution rather than a revolution - a shiny Italian marble bar-top here, pretty pale orange upholstery there. Don Giovanni remains what it was: a stylish yet convivial place where the music is not going to drown out your conversation and the menu delivers what you have always expected of a really good Italian restaurant. Such fare includes my starter of meatballs (£6.95) in a rich basil-infused tomato sauce with a slight chili kick. My companion went for crab ravioli with cherry tomatoes in a butter sauce (£7.95) and proclaimed the ink-black parcels ‘top class’.
My main of tuna (£17.50) was a huge medium-rare steak with olives, juicy capers, cherry tomatoes and zingy white anchovies - a proper Mediterranean fish dish. Across the table, wild Devon dover sole (£24.95) was enjoyed with a buttery lemon sauce - succulent simplicity - along with a side of roast baby potatoes and parmesan (£3.95) which proved to be little taste bombs.
Don Giovanni’s dessert menu is full of familiar favourites, from which I chose affogato (£4.95), nicely sweetened with amaretto syrup, and my companion went for profiteroles (£5.50) pronouncing the choux pastry ‘amazing’.
Don Giovanni has just invested in a Coravin wine machine which - using a long needle to draw wine from a bottle and replace it with argon gas - allows more expensive ‘icon’ wines to be sampled by the glass. For instance, you could try a 125ml glass of 2011 Matarocchio Cabernet Franc for £55.50 should your wallet not run to the bottle price of £300.
Personally, we were happy enough with the less ‘iconic’ choices from a wine list which is overwhelmingly Italian and keenly priced.
As for the new style Don Giovanni, we’re hoping still to be darkening their door another 30 years or so from now. Magnifico!
Don Giovanni, 1 - 2 Peter House, Oxford St, Manchester, M1 5AN, tel 0161 228 2482, dongiovanni.uk.com