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Great Italian food, but with a little more bada-bing

Manchester is lucky to have so many good Italian restaurants to choose from, but look a little deeper and you’ll see that each has been influenced by the culinary traditions of a particular region. Long gone are the days of lacklustre lasagne or simple spag bol. The city centre is now teeming with places that specialise in the delights of Rome, Florence, Venice or Naples; handmade pasta, slow cooked sauces, billowing pizzas, silky gelato and slow cooked sauces often inspired by family recipes handed down through generations.

So what makes Insolito, one of Manchester’s newest Italian restaurants, so special? Well, it’s because the team behind it are pure Sicilian.

Even if geography is not your specialist subject, you’ll know that the map of Italy is famously shaped like a boot and Sicily is the roughly triangular island just off the ‘toe’. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean and, thanks to its delicious dishes and excellent wines, has often been referred to as ‘God’s kitchen’.

Every area of the island has its own particular speciality including sweet cassata cakes, ricotta stuffed cannoli, filled arancini and pasta dishes. Thanks to the unique soil quality, the coast and the climate, it is no stranger to amazing ingredients such as the pistachio nuts (or green gold) which thrive above the town of Bronte, fresh fish, ripe fruit, spices, sun-ripened vegetables, anchovies, capers and juicy olives.

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Apparently, it was an inherent love of arancini – the stuffed and fried balls of risotto rice, which inspired the original idea behind Insolito on Mosley Street. 22 years ago, two Italian students studying in Salford, realised there was nowhere local to go to satisfy the cravings they kept feeling for their native arancini. An idea formed about how they could bring Sicilian cuisine to Manchester and eventually they joined forces with Sicily’s most renown restaurateurs; Giovanni, Claudio and head chef Costantino, to bring the unique flavours and experience of their home country to Manchester.

Everything is made from scratch to closely guarded secret recipes

The result is Insolito, a warm and welcoming Italian restaurant opposite Manchester Art Gallery, where the owners invite you to share in their love of Sicilian food; whether it be for a cup of their sublime coffee and a freshly baked cake, a glass of wine and a few aperitivo snacks, a perfect pre-theatre pizza, or a full on family celebration.

Everything is made from scratch to closely guarded secret recipes; homemade gelato, fresh pasta, simmering sauces and pizza dough - slow proved for a minimum of 72 hours. You’ll also find a very special selection of red and white wines, many sourced especially from local independent vineyards situated on the mineral- enriched terroir of the volcano.   

Start with a range of stuzzichini (Italian for nibbles like garlic bread) while browsing through the list of antipasti, from the simple cornetti di mortadella rolled around fresh ricotta cheese, to the more extravagant gamberoni al cognac. Primi piatti include handmade pasta dishes with a difference, such as penne Mediteranne with swordfish, aubergines and pine nuts, or a rich, comforting risotto with butternut squash and Italian sausage.

Treat yourselves to a secondi piatti di carne, which includes their signature speciality; pork loin with raisins, pine nuts and native orange blossom, or di pesce, which include fish dishes such as sea bream with Sicilian orange sauce.

We’ve already warned you about the Sicilian sweet tooth, so we advise you leave room for dessert, or at least round off the meal with a choice of one of twenty cocktails.

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Make sure to leave room for dessert

Insolito might not be able to fly you to Sicily; the island of aromas, flavours, nature and the Mediterranean sea, but they have done the next best thing and brought it all to you.

FInd out more here