From their snug taverna in Stockport, partners Nicky and Alessio have been cooking up a bit of storm of late with a menu of Sicilian street food that's putting Reddish firmly on the Manchester food map.
A glance through the dishes on offer at A Tavola Sicilian Street Food is a hefty reminder of what the petite Italian island has contributed to the world’s cumulative cookbook.
Bombarded for millennia by invaders from far and wide, a unique environment for the cultivation of techniques, influences and produce has flourished, spawning some of Italy’s true culinary treasures. We recently made our way down to try as much of it as possible at one of Reddish’s best-kept secrets.
The interior is small, modern and adorned with an eclectic collection of knick-knacks that make A Tavola feel like home. The ambience is relaxed, family-friendly and full of that local buzz you only find in a suburban eatery.
A regularly rotating menu gives Alessio the opportunity to experiment with different flavours and ingredients. Later he told us about the regular Whatsapp conversations with his mum back in the homeland to run through menu ideas, I’m sure she’d be proud of what they provide.
A Tavola is home to one of Sicily’s most famous food export, Arancini (naturally). The deep fried, breaded, stuffed balls of risotto rice are rightfully revered and at A Tavola you can enjoy them with a choice of three fillings. We chose the Beef Ragu and they were exceptional; generously plump, gooey and rich with cheese and meat.
Another lesser-known Sicilian street food snack which graces the menu is Pannelle. Chickpea flour is seasoned, mixed into a dough and then rolled flat and fried to create soft nutty slices. I’m told they’ve been a revelation served at lunch the traditional way, jammed into a panini, but we enjoyed them with potato croquettes – either way, it’s fair to say they’re ridiculously moreish.
The chance to eat fresh pasta is hard to let slip, especially at a place which does it properly. On our visit, we shared the Nero di Seppia with king prawns, squid, chilli, garlic and tomato in a black squid ink sauce and the Chi Milincane which was about as Sicilian as it gets with aubergines and smoked ricotta over thick Bucatini straws.
One part of the menu which really caught my eye was the ‘A Sasasizza Siciliana’. This is traditional Sicilian sausage flavoured with fennel seeds and cooked in many different ways. I adored the Cu pummaroro which cooks it in a delicious tomato sauce with peas hich was just as divine as it sounds.
I was also glad to see the Italian classic Saltimbocca on the menu – which is a favourite of mine and quite a rare find. The staff told us that veal is the most eaten meat in Sicily and indeed the whole of Italy, and for good reason when they are so clearly apt at cooking it.
This dish takes British topside veal escalopes and fries it alongside parma ham, fresh sage and Mederia wine with outrageously delicious effects.
A Tavola also boasts some of the most delicious (and traditionally authentic) Sicilian desserts.
The Hot Ricotta Pie, in particular, floated my boat, especially alongside an accompaniment of pistachio and hazelnut ice creams. Crisp Cannolis, the mafia’s dessert of choice – which are available to take away too – are another must-try.
Sometimes in Manchester, it can sometimes feel like we are saturated with Italian restaurants. But with that being said, it is these perfectly formed and traditional establishments like A Tavola in our suburbs which bring us the true essence of Italian food in its entirety.
A Tavola, 14 Broadstone Road, Reddish, Stockport, SK5 7AE
0161 971 8441