Everyone has their favourite Italian restaurant, here's our choice of the best...
A good Italian restaurant is something that everyone should have in their arsenal, and we’re not shy of some seriously impressive places in Manchester and further afield.
Sugo Pasta Kitchen
The supreme champions when it comes to pasta dishes, Sugo is a triumph and any visit is a pleasure from start to finish. You can’t go wrong with sticking to the classics, with their signature House Sugo right up there as one of the best dishes in the entire city. Orecchiette pasta with a beef shin, pork shoulder and nduja ragu and parmesan – this is a pasta dish that’s hard to beat, and even harder not to order. There are (of course) loads more Italian delights on the menu – including some banging meatballs, burrata and some amazing Cannolo Siciliano for afters.
The Pasta Factory
I’ve never been too keen on the name of The Pasta Factory, but it perfectly describes exactly what you’re going to get when you visit – freshly prepared and cooked pasta made with all-natural ingredients by a team that are hugely dedicated to improving your dining experience. You see, pretty much everyone makes pasta at home, but this is 1000x better than what you can do yourself, and with a menu of changing daily specials – no two visits to this place are ever the same. Who thought pasta could be SO exciting!?
The Pasta Factory, 77 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AN
Is Sicilian Italian? Is it cheating including a Sicilian restaurant on this list? Not at all! Sicily is officially one of the twenty regions of Italy, and with it being an island, over the years it’s developed and nurtured it’s own uniquely different culinary landscape – one which you can explore to the max at Sicilian NQ on Turner Street. We love this place and it’s authenticity, they even ship their pasta sauces over from a tiny town in Sicily where they’re made in an old family artisan laboratory. As well as the main dishes, the bar here serves up some hard-to-find Sicilian and Italian liqueurs, and there’s even Gelato out front. Everything you could ever need for a full-on Sicilian experience.
Sicilian NQ, Turner St, Northern Quarter, Manchester
Easily one of the most famous and well-known Italian restaurants in Manchester, San Carlo is pretty much a city institution now, and they’ve been serving up their Italian dishes to the people of Manchester for more than 20 years now. They get a load of celebrities coming in here, but don’t let that put you off – they have an outstanding menu of Italian and Sicilian classics – plus some rather exciting regional specialities. There’s the main offering down on Kings Street, plus a plethora of other San Carlo offerings, including ‘Fumo’ on Oxford Street and ‘Bottega’ in Selfridges.
If you’ve lived in Manchester for longer than 2 weeks, you’ll definitely have heard of Salvi’s – such is their legacy of Italian food within the city. Family-owned and run, Salvi’s offer up traditional, authentic, Italian dishes – inspired by owner Maurizio’s mother’s kitchen back home in Naples. Salvi’s is now located right in the Northern Quarter on High Street, as well as in the Corn Exchange, where you’ll find a dedicated Italian deli (for all of those meats and cheese) and a Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant.
Lazy Tony’s Lasagneria
A relatively new addition to the city, you can’t get more Italian than a huge slab of Lasagne, and in this respect – Lazy Tony’s do the best. By far. They offer up not just the traditional lasagne, but also a Chicken Alfredo version and, my personal favourite – a Beef Short Rib variation which is quite possibly the best thing you can put in your mouth (pre-watershed). There’s also Mozzarella Sticks and arguably the Best Tiramisu in the entire world/country/city. You can find them at Foundation Coffee House in the Northern Quarter.
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza
I told myself that I wouldn’t populate this list with a ton of pizza places, because, although they are definitely Italian in spirit, to qualify as a proper Italian restaurant (in my eyes at least) then you’ve got to offer more than just pizza. But then I thought – how could I NOT include Rudy’s in this list? The 8th Best Pizza in the World? And they do actually offer up some excellent Italian starters and desserts and they even do Campari Soda bottles, so yes – they’re Italian and they’re bloody brilliant.
Located down at Hatch on Oxford Road, T’Arricrii specialise in that most beautiful of Sicilian creations – arancini. Rice stuffed with an endless choice of fillings, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep fried – arancini are amazing, and the ones at T’Arricrii are nigh on unbeatable. They also offer up a pretty diverse selection of antipasti and aperitivi too, including Crostinis, Croquettes and loaded Fritto potatoes. Oh, and paninis and desserts, including Cannolo (of course). They’ll be back at Hatch from the 15th September.
Easily the greatest Italian restaurant in the whole of Salford, Vero Moderno is nipping at the heels of everyone in Manchester too – and could quite well be up there in the top three. They’ve pretty much established themselves as one of the best Italian restaurants in the (two) cities. Their pasta, pizzas and well, pretty much everything is outstanding and there’s a massive menu to choose from. Their Ravioli Della Casa (£14.95) is a must-try – venison ravioli topped with a sublime orange infused butter sauce.
Vero Moderno, Unit 4 Vimto Gardens, Chapel St, Salford M3 5JF
Winner or nominee for pretty much every single award that we’ve ever had in the city, it wouldn’t surprise me if you told me that Lupo had won an Oscar, or indeed a Nobel Peace Prize – purely for the quality of their produce alone. Now based in Prestwich, Lupo is the quintessential Italian cafe experience, with superb coffee, outstanding baked goods, cannolo, pizzas, pasta, cakes – everything you can think of really, all done exceptionally well indeed. Well worth the trip up to the Mountheath Trading Estate, you won’t leave empty handed (or hungry).
Lupo, Unit 65 Mountheath Trading Estate, Prestwich, M25 9WE
Ezra & Gil
What’s a brunch spot doing here on this list? Well, let me tell you. Basically, Ezra & Gil managed to secure themselves a very talented chef in the form of Dan Mancini, who was born in Bolzano and raised in Trento, and became an accountant by trade when he grew up. He decided to pursue his dream of being a chef back in 2013 though, and since then he’s been smashing avocado during the day and designing and cooking their Pasta Menu in the evenings – and they’re (as you’d expect) absolutely bloody brilliant. They’re available every day until 8pm – and they’re a must-try for any self-respecting pasta lover.
Ezra & Gil, 20 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1FR
Located right at the top of Liverpool Road, just off Deansgate, Cibo has been through a few iterations over the last couple of years, but re-opening up after lockdown – they’re back with an impressive new menu of Italian classics and a bold new look. Everything is made in-house here, including a Bolognaise sauce that they slow-cook for 8 hours, meatballs, juicy steaks and best of all – a pasta dish that’s cooked inside a huge parmesan cheese wheel right in front of you at your table.
Cibo, 3-11 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NW
Tre Ciccio isn’t like your usual Italian restaurant, as in you’re not going to see much pasta on the menu here. Instead they concentrate on ‘Pollo Arrosto e Patate’ – Italian style roast chicken and potatoes, and Neapolitan pizzas, plus some rather exciting Antipasti starters including the phenomenal Rotolini baked pizza bites. The main draw here though is the chicken and potatoes, inspired by restaurant in southern Italy and using award-winning farm-reared chicken from Goosnargh. Traditionally served as a platter for two to tuck into together.
A Tavola Gastronomia Siciliana
Once a staple of Reddish, A Tavola have now moved to New Mills (which is just past Marple) and they’re making a name for themselves there now too. Our food writer Tim visited a couple of years back and was blown away with their Sicilian street food menu, and they’re still offering up an impressive range of dishes in their new home. This is a proper neighbourhood Italian restaurant experience – you’re going to get only the freshest, highest quality ingredients – creating simple, home-cooked authentic dishes that will blow you away. What else do you want?!
A Tavola, Albion Rd, New Mills, High Peak SK22 3EY
Again, another pizza joint, and this time – pizza is pretty much all that they do. But the three lads that run this pizzeria, from their Auntie’s backyard in Bolton no less, are all cousins and of Itlaian descent – so you’re getting the real deal here for sure. Brought up with a passion for Italian food by their ‘Nonno'(grandad) who came over from Italy in the 60’s and opened up one of Bolton’s first Italian restaurants and influenced the culinary life and influences of Conor, Callum and Dino, encouraging them to begin Cugini’s in January, constructing a wood-fired pizza oven in the back garden and create some absolutely banging Neapolitan pies.
Officially the city’s oldest independent Italian restaurant, Don Giovanni opened their doors all the way back in 1984, when I was just a twinkle in the milk man’s eye and the city’s exposure to Italian food was in its infancy. Don’s has been a city fixture ever since, initially looking to appeal to the descendants of the thousands of Italian immigrants who came over in the late 1800’s to work in the city’s mills, the majority of whom settled in Ancoats at the time. Nowadays Don Gio’s have a colossal menu of Italian dishes, and their Spaghetti Carbonara is pretty much unbeatable.
Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Rosso is an Italian restaurant, but it is – and a mighty fine one too. I suppose it’s not THAT hard to remember, what with it’s Sistine Chapel-inspired interior and huge menu of Italian classics. There’s a definite vibe to this place though that many of the more traditional Italian joints don’t have, but the food still manages to impress, especially the fresh fish and the steaks from the grill. They also do a banging pizza in here too, so get one of them as well.
Rosso Restaurant & Bar, 43 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 2BG
Although not strictly Italian, The Sparrows is in fact more of a ‘European’ restaurant, offering up a diverse choice of dishes from Russian Pelimeni to Polish Pierogi, and even Japanese Sake for some reason. They offer up a fantastic menu of fresh pastas and ravioli too though, which are truly excellent – easily some of the best in the city. Everyone raves about this place, and there’s a reason for that – it’s absolutely one of the best restaurants in the city at the moment – and their Italian offering is up there with the very best.
The Sparrows, 16 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M4 4HF
Paradiso Authentic Italian
If you like Tiramisu – Paradiso are the ones for you. Offering up handmade Italian desserts, of course they do a banging Tiramisu – plus a selection of other delicious goodies too of course – including cannoli and cakes. The main focus here is the Tiramisu though, and they even offer up a few different variations on the classic, including a pistachio one and even a Biscoff one, which is quite possibly the greatest dessert ever made. You can catch them at various markets and pop-ups around the city – just give them a follow to find out where they’re going to be next.
Are Bada Bing Italian? Or are they Italian-American? Who cares – their sandwiches are by far the best in the city so they make this list by default. Sopranos-inspired, they definitely ARE Italian though, especially considering the range of Italian deli meats and cheeses that grace their subs – including the hard-to-find Gabagool – something which you probably couldn’t even find elsewhere in the UK until these lads started buying it and shoving it on butties.
No self-respecting list of Italian restaurants would be complete without Piccolino’s surely? You’ll find a Piccolino all over the region, and they’re encroaching on ‘chain’ territory somewhat, but they’re still massively popular and a great choice when looking for top-quality Italian dishes. They offer up pretty much everything you could ever desire in here, pasta, pizza, antipasti, wines, coffee, desserts – if it’s not here, then it’s not Italian. Their Caffe Grande on Albert Square is stunning too.
Located in Altrincham Market every Friday – Sunday, Teo’s are actually based in a dark kitchen just near the city centre, and so they’re available for delivery pretty much all of the time on the major delivery platforms. Chef Teo offers up a menu of Gourmet Paninis, including a banging Meatball Hero, and a selection of Street Food Dishes and Salads. The Stuffed Focaccia’s at the market are an absolute dream, especially when packed full of the finest Italian Mortadella Ham and an amazing pistachio pesto.