If you were intent on avoiding the usual cliches of Italian cookery then Chapel Street seems as good a place to start as any. Vero Moderno owner, Beppe, chose the revitalised spot in Salford for his contemporary eatery back in 2016, and has been tempting diners out of town ever since with a menu that looks to eschew anglicised dishes like spag bol and lasagne.
A recent refresh has seen the addition of more plates that put quality ingredients at the pinnacle of proceedings and bring a fresh touch to some traditional piatti, so last week we popped in try some of Beppe’s favourite new bits over a glass or two of the good stuff.
With modernity firmly on the menu thankfully there’s still room for some classics too, and they don’t get much more vital than carpa ccio. The raw beef starter has its roots in legendary Venetian restaurant, Harry’s Bar, and more than deserves its place in any Italian feast. Pungent truffle peelings and crumbling pecorino cheese made the most of beautifully tender steak, if there is a better way to kick off a meal I haven’t found it.
We also tried the melanzane, less Instagramable perhaps, but seductive stuff nonetheless. A steaming bowl of egg breaded aubergine, stringy blotches of mozzarella and basil spiked tomato sauce warmed our cockles on a night that called for some comfort.
The monochrome contrast of squid ink gnocchi and white fleshed fish made for an eye-catching display on our next course. Prawn and squid completed a celebration of seafood, then the briny bite of those jet black gnocchi splashed texture and salty seasoning.
Following that, a vividly golden turmeric and cannellini bean veloute framed freshly seared calamari in an aromatic serving of squid. The fragrant, delicate warmth of that spicy root made for an exciting combination, and one of the sort not often equated to this cuisine. Case in point there that Vero Moderno are trying to do things a bit differently.
Something altogether more familiar came after. Chunky, inviting ribbons of egg pasta that tell you everything you need to know about the indulgent nature of proper Italian gastronomy. Nuggets of slow cooked lamb within a creamy mushroom ragu bring it all home- straightforward stuff but sublime nonetheless.
Our final savoury plate was crowned with a pair of beautifully pink pan-roasted rainbow trout fillets. The colour and fragrant smack of line caught fish is always something special and this was perfectly crisped too. A fresh, summery risotto of asparagus, shrimp and lemon completed a perfect dish for the warmer months, this was on as a special but will no doubt be star of the menu later this year.
I love a dessert with a bit of a wobble. Plonk a palpitating pudding down that settles with a little quiver and you’ve already half won me over. Our pannacotta trembled to attention obligingly, and a sweet, sharp shot of peach and prosecco sauce brought the best out of the soft, creamily delicate vanilla infused mold. And finally, we enjoyed another piece of simplicity well performed. Light coffee parfait liberally sprinkled with the crunch of brittle caramelised pistachio praline.
We’ve got another must-visit restaurant on our hands.
Unit 4 Vimto Gardens, Chapel street, Salford, M3 5JF
0161 637 1160