Jonathan Schofield finds another indie Italian restaurant that people should rush to visit

I’VE got to say I expected the worst. For some reason I had the feeling that Vero was going to be one of those Italian-by-numbers restaurants not run by Italians, but it wasn’t like that at all and you should go.

A light pasta dish packed with tomatoes that exploded like small tasty grenades in the mouth

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, the whole point of food writing is to come across something that surprises and delights. Thus finding food salvation in Salford, on a lonely part of Chapel Street, was glorious.

Salvation came in the form of Bepe from Rome, a charming, chatty man who oozed enthusiasm. He’s also a man clearly building a reputation. There were several other Italians dining in the restaurant on our visit including managers from Gino’s, Carluccio's and Piccolino's.

.Foiled prawns

All the food the three of us shared was good aside from one error, but Bepe acknowledged that just as a good restaurateur should. The error lay with the flabby mozzarella that came with the Parma ham (£7.95). Bepe assured me he was seeking another supplier for the mozzarella so if you do visit avoid that dish, in fact if I were him I’d take it off the menu until he’s found better cheese.

The other starters were wonderful, especially the beautifully seasoned trio of calzoncini (£5.95) with fillings of tomato and mozzarella, ham and mushroom and mushroom and smoked cheese. The last of these was spectacular, tangy and moist all at the same time.

Moistness is the key to Italian food. Most dishes should glisten with oil just like the gamberoni (£7.25). These prawns wrapped in foil and enlivened by a white wine sauce, garlic and a kick of chilli were spot on.

.Beautiful scialatielli

The mains worked as well as the calzoncini and the prawns. The scialatielli (£9.75) was a real joy, a light pasta dish packed with gorgeous Campanian tomatoes that exploded like small tasty grenades in the mouth, accompanied by more prawns and the secret weapon of artichokes. Bloody marvellous this dish.

Very different in character was the salsiccia patate (£13.95), a big pork sausage lifted by a cunning fennel sauce. The pasta dish had the edge but this was still very good. As was the branzino (£14.95), the seabass with clams and pancetta. This dish was oily and toothsome and timed to perfection so the gentle flesh of the fish was in no way harmed by the ever present danger of over cooking.

.Big pork sausage with cunning fennel

A flourish of a tiramisu (£3.50) was enjoyed by everybody. A gentle Villa Antonio Bianco (£23) complemented the key elements of the meal and a Sgroppino grappa with an almost whisky-like character (£3.75) rounded things off with a punch. It had looked like Bepe was going to give us what is the worst of all Italian food and drink offerings, Limoncello, aka cough medicine, but we headed him off and he recommended the grappa instead. Good lad.

Salvi’s, Pasta Factory, Lupo, Rudy’s, Vero: we are getting a generation of Italian restaurants and coffee shops that are excellent, providing artfully simple and straightforward food that lingers in the mind and doesn’t come dressed in million pound fit outs from corporate machines. Well done to Bepe and the team and long may this authentic Italiano trend continue.  

Vero Moderno, Vimto Gardens, Chapel Street, Salford, M3 5JP - Menu here

Rating: 15/20

Food: 8/10 (mozzarella and ham 6, calzoncini 8, gamberoni 8, salsiccia 7, scialateiella 8, branzino 8, tiramisu 7.5) 

Atmosphere: 3/5 

Service: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-10 stay in with Netflix, 11-12 if you're passing, 13-14 good, 15-16 very good, 17-18 excellent, 19-20 pure quality.



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