The legendary San Carlo is still offering some of the finest food the city has seen for years
UNFURLING south from the shadow of Liverpool Town Hall, Castle Street has enjoyed a renaissance as a restaurant hotspot in the last couple of years.
There might be choices galore - yet lovers of truly great food know there is really only one place to head for. Yes, the legendary San Carlo, which not only brought a new kind of glamour when it arrived here in 2010, but some of the finest food and drink the city had seen for years.
And the great news? It still dazzles.
Where else in Liverpool gives you fish as fresh and abundant as a Napoli dockside? An ever-changing daily blackboard of specials fresco dal mare?Dover sole, lobster, Cornish crab, whole turbot, North Atlantic halibut, langoustines and scallops among them.
Grills, shellfish, carpaccio, pizzas and pastas - “at San Carlo, we want everything that arrives at your table to delight you,” they say, and it does.
But it’s the little luxuries that make a visit to San Carlo so memorable.
Take steak and lobster (£55 - that’s for two of you) a spread of loveliness that makes coming here a genuine treat: tender slices of full flavoured, 8oz dry aged fillet with brandy and mustard. And lobster, peachy perfect in looks, is, in every sense, all it’s cracked up to be. Cleaved in two, all the hard work has been taken away, leaving you to scoop out its generous, succulentflesh at your leisure. A generous pile of zucchine fritteon the side adds up to the classiest surf and turf you will find for miles.
Share it over a bottle of Montelpuciano D’abruzzo Riparosso(£27.20). Big bodied, deep,ripe and round, with a final note of liquorice. It’s one of 150 wines on San Carlo’s list, many available by the glass.
Marcello Distefano, son of the restaurant’s founder, Carlo, says: “The key to everything is the quality of the ingredients. That is what it comes down to. Italian food is based on simple cooking. So if the quality of your ingredients is good enough, then people will come back.”
A great deal of San Carlo’s raw materials are flown in from produce markets across Italy to ensure quality and authenticity.
But it’s what they do with them them once here that will remind many Italians of home. Our must-try recommendation is the Melanzane al Forno, a fantastic take on an aubergine bake with Sicilian origins, here prepared to perfection in a delicious tomato and parmesan sauce. Enjoy it as a starter (£7.95) or as a main course (£12.20) that will rival any meat lasagne.
San Carlo is that rare thing: big on style and even bigger on substance with super comforts just like Mamma might make. But shhh, to that last bit. Don’t EVER tell her we said so.
San Carlo, 41 Castle Street, L2 9SH