Tag Archives: pasta

The Pasta Factory – Manchester

“Another branch of Manchester’s ‘Little Italy’ is doing the business. If its pasta you need you’ll go far to get any better than The Pasta Factory in Manchester’s Shudehill”

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Rather than pail and wallow, The Cooktwit when left to grapple as one is a hardy soul. Indeed there are times when dining on ones lonesome can be considered one of life’s great pleasures. Such a time occurred recently when I stumbled upon The Pasta Factory. Set in what one may describe as ‘the edgier side of town*’ this oasis of egg and flour turned out to be a surprising little gem.

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The starter menu

The building itself is a fine old pile. A former bank HQ no less. Considering the rampant authenticity of the offer, ‘The Pasta Factory’ strikes as an unusual moniker. The playful logo, the assertion that ‘You Will Eat Pasta’ and the entrance wall of text are straight from the nearby Northern Quarter cafe start up manual. Inside its different though. You fall straight into Puglia**. Tiled floors, dark matching furniture, ubiquitous pasta cues, wine displays, chalk board specials all wrapped in rough hewned red and white paintwork. Allied to the Mediterranean backing track it’s a wonderfully informal setting and one that immediately set the solitary frame of The Cooktwit at his ease.

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Antispasto, Italian IPA

The engaging front of house chaps soon had the spartan menus up for perusal. Starters (or Taglieri) are simplicity itself. Its antipasto for one, two, three, four or five! I had it for one (£7). Aged ham wrapped around melon, a ricotta tartlet, cubes of salty, thyme infused feta, crispy kale, anchovies, pickled vegetables with tuna, olives and flatbread. I might have missed a bit too. It was exquisite.

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The main menu is an A4 sheet in yellow and red (though you get a vegan page too). Its basically pasta. No chips, pizza or anything deep fried here. The pasta is freshly made on the premises and are sold in packs to take out too. It comes in all shapes and sizes, most of which I have never seen or heard of before. The pasta comes with a variety of sauces each with seafood, vegetables or locally sourced venison.  My selection for the eve was ‘Bucatini Nero con il Polipo’ (£13.50), which is squid ink pasta with marinated octopus with sun blushed tomato and basil. It was a smashing portion. Perfectly cooked pasta, with ‘globs’ of octopus, slicked in a rich, deep red tomato sauce. Very satisfying.

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I had to finish with something sweet. The menu offers three standards that are on all the time. I was tempted by the panna cotta but then went for one of the specials chalked up on one of the many chalkboards. I had the passion fruit and coconut cake with passion fruit sorbet (£5). Bit like a proper baked cheesecake on a hazelnut crumb base. It came on a heavy slate sprinkled with coconut. Again really good, if not slightly unusual. Perhaps I would have preferred ice cream but hey if this is how The Pasta Factory do it. Who am I to argue?

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With a ladies glass of ruby red Barbera (£8), a belated slug of a sensational, hand crafted Italian IPA and a super cafetiere coffee, the whole lot came in at £35. If there is a better way to spend one and half hours on your own in Manchester then I would like to know all about it. A thoroughly splendid binge. If ever you find yourself straying from the centre don’t forget to head up Shudehill, there’s a treat waiting….

* Though no doubt will soon be slap bang centre of the latest hip Manchester scene!
** Not that I’ve ever been, but I imagine this is what it would be like!

The Pasta Factory
77 Shudehill Street
M4 4AN Manchester

Email : ciao@pastafactory.co.uk
Phone : 01612229250

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Salvi’s Cucina – Manchester

Possibly the best Italian meal I’ve ever had?

Salvis Cucina (kitchen in Italian) is a new, rather understated eatery that has sprung up in the nondescript concrete avenue of John Dalton Street in Manchester. I sportingly took The Flame there as recompense for a forthcoming road trip with a couple of gentlemen friends to watch a bunch of rock debutants in North London outpost Enfield.

The outside
The outside

Salvis sprang forth in the mind as one or two local work pals have raved over their pre existing ‘Mozzarella Bar’ down the other end of town in the ill fated Corn Exchange Triangle. Salvis are an Italian dynasty that has purveyed quality Italian ingredients in Manchester for a few years now. And after our meal I wholeheartedly suggest they continue.
Decor is rather modest, the odd flash of colour from a strategically placed painted chair. The open kitchen dominates, the hardworking chefs plunder their skills amongst a plethora of shaving, slicing and turning machinery. It’s a pleasing sight.

Menu, colourful chairs, the kitchen, the specials roll
Menu, colourful chairs, the kitchen, the specials roll

Our table was preordained after I had ventured in earlier in the day. Our table was set right up against the semi height glass frontage. As this was a sunny eve our table was streaked with fresh sunlight and fresh(ish) Manchester air. It was wonderful. Our delightful Italian waitress plied us with water and wine and took our order after explaining the specials in the most delicate Italianate English. To further help the specials are scrawled on a large brown paper roll. Nice touch.
Our antipasti soon homed into view. Mine first, ‘Cappachio Di Nanzo Rucola E Grana’ (beef, rocket, Parmesan, drizzled with olive oil, balsamic and lemon £8.50). It was wonderful, ‘waffer’ thin slices of raw beef with a cheesy, oily, herby coat. As a treat I did ask if I could try some smoked mozzarella as I was intrigued. Rather than the slither I anticipated I was graced with a fully dressed ball in a separate bowl. It was a bit too much to eat in one lump but I loved the smokey rind, definitely one to bear in mind.

The antipasti
The antipasti

The flames starter was a bit of a strange one. Entitled ‘Timbalo Di Venture Con formaggio Di Capra E Pesto’ it was subtitled as mixed grilled vegetables stacked with goats cheese and topped with pesto (£8). It turned out to be three deep fried orbs set on a base of dressed leaves and a super homemade pesto. It wasn’t what was expected but it was still delicious and was gleefully mopped up. The grilled veg were merely slithers mixed in with the cheese and deep fried.
We both went for simple pasta dishes for mains but even these were a step above the norm. Mind you I could argue they should have been at £11.50 and £13 a plate. It isn’t cheap, but ye gods they were both sensational. The flames ‘Pasta Con Pesche Spada, Melenzane, Scamorza E Pinoli’ (swordfish, aubergine, pine nuts and smoked mozzarella) probably shaded it. The pasta itself beautifully cooked and seasoned. The tastes and textures sublime.

The mains and the tiramisu
The mains and the tiramisu

I had a pasta off the specials board. ‘Pasta alla Salvis Whit Salsiccia et asparigi’ (sausage and asparagus). Finished in a tomato sauce (or ‘sowse’ as our waitress called it) it was still a simple pasta dish but somehow it just tasted so much better than most I’ve ever had before. I can’t really explain why but it was. You’ll just have to try yourself!
I as usual I rounded off with a desert for research purposes. I run a personal competition to find a tiramisu to match my childhood version as provided by Culcheth heroes ‘Don Luighi’. I think I have found a joint top version. It seemed a bit too thick at first but deep down the ‘V’ shaped flask the moist, boozy, creamy loveliness came bounding through. A triumph at any price but at £4.50 it had no equal.

Smoked mozzarella
Smoked mozzarella

Whilst us chaps all know brownie points have ceased to be legal tender in most relationships there is no doubt Salvis worked its magic on The flame. The Gentlemans weekend continued without a hitch and there is no question we will be back. Going forward I can see this being one of our favourite staple restaurants. Highly recommended.

19 John Dalton St
Manchester
M2
http://www.salvismanchester.co.uk