San Carlo

A temple of Italian cuisine, with some contemporary twists and regular celebrity clientele

San Carlo
42 King St W, Manchester, M3 2WY
0161 834 6226

Monday: 12-11pm
Tuesday: 12-11pm
Wednesday: 12-11pm
Thursday: 12-11pm
Friday: 12-11pm
Saturday: 12-11pm
Sunday: 12-11pm

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. A Sicilian guy, let’s call him Carlo Distefano, opens a 20-table restaurant in Birmingham. It quickly becomes known regionally for the quality of its food and service. That was 1992. Skip to today and from that single site several more have sprung up across the UK, but each address is completely individual. The original Manchester offering, for example, is a bonafide institution – San Carlo.

Occupying a charming corner on upmarket King Street in the city centre, the pastel blue-green exterior is instantly recognisable among our hometown’s foodies. As are many of the regular clientele at this celebrity beacon. San Carlo is more than style alone, though. The team pride themselves on providing royal service, while the menu, and the dishes themselves, are all exceptional quality. Think antipasti such as ostriche (Colchester rock oysters with shallots, vinegar and tabasco) or arancini, arrabbiata or marieniére, and fungi piemontese (mixed mushrooms in garlic and parsley butter, inside filo pastry). 

Opt to share Fruttura di Pesce Portofino, where deep fried calamari, prawns, scampi and scallops shine. Or instead go for carpaccio di manzo, tartare d tonno (tuna), a wide selection of pizzas, and pastas from penne to gnocchi, zitoni to rigatoni, tagliatelle to tortellini, ravioli to risotto. All made fresh by hand, with gluten free available. The Carne and Fish sections are just as expansive for those who want to go for the full Italian experience, with an open grill for authentic flavour. Meanwhile, desserts are also to die for — tiramisu, meringata amarena, cheesecake, all kinds of gelato, and mantecato alla nocciola (soft hazelnut ice cream with crushed Ferrero Rocher and chocolate sauce, for two). Right about now we’d normally move to the wine list, but let’s just say this — it’s every bit a match for the food, and that’s saying something.