Italian food for grazing and sharing, at a great price
San Carlo didn’t just become a successful restaurant group because of all its celebrity guests. Obviously photographs in the newspaper showing Mick Jagger, Tom Jones or Jose Mourinho exiting the restaurant don’t do any harm, but the bottom line is that it’s the food and the service which keep all customers coming back.
San Carlo may be the ever expanding mother brand, but it’s various offspring incarnations Fumo, Gran Cafe, Alto by San Carlo, Signor Sassi, Bottega and Cicchetti, just to name a few, are also hot spots for people wanting to capture an afternoon or evening of pure Italian hospitality.
Manchester is lucky enough to have its own small slice of Italy with San Carlo Fumo on the corner of St Peters Square and Oxford Road – especially during this current heat wave. Daytime diners are flocking to the sunny terrace, shaded by huge canopies, to be utterly convinced, for at least an hour or two, that they are not in fact in a major UK city, but in a village square in Tuscany or a trattoria in Milan sipping on an Aperol Spritz or knocking back a double espresso.
Dining out is embedded in Italian culture. It’s an opportunity to meet and socialise over good food and wine and Fumo are so keen for Mancunians to capture the spirit that they’ve introduced a new afternoon fixed price afternoon menu.
Fumo’s Menu Fisso is full of typically Italian dishes, perfect for summertime eating, sharing, grazing and chatting; a selection of four cicchetti sharing dishes between two people for £13.95 per person. It’s not that easy to narrow down the fixed price menu with dishes which range from lighter salads such as the classic Insalata Caprese with buffalo mozzarella, beef tomato and ripe avocado, to heartier dishes such as truffle and pecorino ravioli with cheese fondue, or parpadelle all’Amatriciana with bacon, tomato sauce and pecorino.
If you fancy eating a few top quality nibbly bits, you’ll find calamari fritti (classic fried squid) or the infamous Sicilian arancini – coated and deep fried balls of rice filled with a slow cooked beef ragu. Those with larger appetites can select heartier options such as rib-eye of beef with chilli, garlic and sweet potato fries or even Neapolitan meatballs filled with raisins, pine nuts and topped with friarielli – that uniquely Italian green that’s somewhere between spinach and broccoli.
Pizza Parmigiana with buffalo mozzarella, aubergine and Parmesan makes a delicious choice for vegetarians, while pescatarians can opt for a fillet of sea bass with a potato crust and delicate pink peppercorns. We’re keen to leave you to discover some surprises, but with a dozen different dishes to choose from, it might even be worth returning again to try out different combinations.
San Carlo’s menu fisso is available Monday to Saturday between 12-4pm and a selection of four dishes to share between two people is priced at only £13.95 per person. Just remember this handy tip; guests are unable to pre-book a table on Fumo’s outside terrace, so on sunny days, it’s advisable to get there early and enjoy an al fresco afternoon like a real Italian.