Truffle honey, pink peppercorns, lilliput capers, Radcliffe, who ARE you?
The North Manchester town Radcliffe is not somewhere that springs to mind when you think about good places to eat. But a classy new Italian called Luisa’s is about to change the landscape.
Luisa’s opens tomorrow, Saturday 7 May and we have been in for a first look and a natter about the story so far.
They had never made a pizza professionally before but, relying on the Italian side of their heritage, they decided to have a go.
If you ask anyone from Radcliffe for recommendations on where to eat, most of them will shrug before telling you your best bet is the market. Est 1851, Radcliffe Market got a new lease of life several years ago and now operates as a volunteer-run enterprise with all profits ploughed back into the community.
In the past few years, it has already cultivated a whole bunch of hot food startups which organisers say they would like to see “outgrow the town”. Open during the day as a traditional market, at evenings and weekends the hot food stalls feed up to 250 guests. This is where almost three years ago siblings Dom and Stef Szafranski got their start.
From Radcliffe Market to a proper Italian restaurant
Keen foodies, Dom went to catering college and Stef is an avid baker, the pair had been popping up on and off at the market with an electric hob doing stews and Italian street food snacks when the market organisers asked if they wanted to open a pizza stall - simply because there wasn’t one already. They had never made a pizza professionally before but, relying on the Italian side of their heritage, they decided to have a go. Luisa’s was born, named after their Naples-born nana and the pair set about rustling up pizzas in the 3x5 metre kitchen.
Luisa’s was an instant hit and grew even more in popularity with deliveries of its black speckled, Neapolitan pizzas to Radcliffe locals during lockdown. Now, Luisa’s is the first of Radcliffe Market’s stalls to have outgrown it - but it won’t be the last.
Unfortunately, while Dom and Stef believe the market has huge potential, their decision to leave was in part based on a lack of faith in its current management. “On paper it’s phenomenal,” says Dom, “It's such a good idea. It will get better but it just needs a bit of shaping up.” They do, however, urge you to try some of the other great food being served up there of an evening. Stalls like Blackbird Pantry, House of Bun and Acapulco are all ones to watch on the market and beyond.
What's on the menu at Luisa's
At the new Luisa’s, the pizza menu will be familiar to market regulars. They are mostly named after and inspired by various regions in Italy and their key ingredients. So Lombardia features salami Milano, gorgonzola and oregano, Napoletana has Amalfi tuna, anchovies, Leccion olives and crispy liliput capers and Genova has herb roasted chicken with scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and fresh basil and rocket pesto.
But the one they are most proud of is called Mille Fiori - meaning a thousand flowers - and has Italian black truffle honey brushed onto the crust before baking to give a caramelised flavour that complements the other toppings of goats cheese and toasted walnuts. There’s a Margherita too, don’t worry purists, as well as a whole vegan range.
The new menu goes beyond pizza though, with the likes of panelle chickpea fritters, wood-fired ribs and zucchini fritti on the Cicchetti small plates menu while pasta dishes include stapes like spag bol and carbonara but also a seafood scoglio spaghetti and a slow-cooked beef shin ragu with sautéed green beans.
Stef and Dom want people to share as they would in Italy so many pasta dishes are designed to be served in huge pots in the middle of the table - including the lasagne.
It’s not really the kind of food Radcliffe is used to.
“It took us a while to get it past the people of Radcliffe,” Stef laughs, “When we first opened, we had some people asking us what mozzarella was.”
“I’d designed this proper fancy menu with Italian salamis and cheeses but we’ve had to slowly build it up. The other Italian restaurants around here do that very classic Italian menu - people know what they’re going to get. But I wanted this to be a little more 'out there’. More traditional, not your bog-standard Italian. We do have some classics too.”
There are also desserts and, yes, they include tiramisu, but the more adventurous among you might want to try the Spumoni, a terrine of layered cherry, pistachio and stracciatella gelato. Or perhaps the Fragola Pazzo which is strawberry gelato with meringue, balsamic strawberries and pink peppercorns.
Luisa’s will continue to do pizza delivery but won’t be delivering the pasta just yet. They are not confident as to how well it will travel and want to do some road testing first.
But you don’t want to sit at home anyway, we’ve done enough of that this past couple of years. Luisa's really looks the part with navy blue painted walls, sleek hanging light fittings and dark brown wooden furniture, not to mention the beautiful, tiled wood-fired oven taking pride of place in the kitchen.
Get out and support this fresh new business and help Radcliffe to achieve its full potential as a great place to live as we move into the future.
Luisa’s is all set to open tomorrow, Saturday 7 May - but keep an eye on their socials for updates.
Luisa’s Italian, 45 Church St W, Radcliffe, Manchester M26 2SP
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