If you love Italian food then no doubt you’ve heard of San Carlo! The award-winning group have restaurants in London, Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds – with each individual restaurant offering up something a little bit different.
Meeting my friend and her new baby for lunch along with a spot of shopping gave us the perfect opportunity to sample the delights of Manchester’s San Carlo Bottega restaurant in the heart of the city and located on the second floor of Selfridge’s iconic store.
Quite a fitting place for such a pretty restaurant and nestled between the new collection Burberry trench coats and the absolutely stunning rainbow coloured kitten heels at Kurt Geiger, San Carlo is the ultimate stop off for a glass of Laurent Perrier Rosé, as bottles of the stuff line the marble bar as you enter.
Although there’s a number of San Carlo’s in Manchester, San Carlo Bottega specialises in the traditional cicchetti small plates. Washed down with a glass of fizz, it’s the perfect way to sample lots of different and perfectly executed dishes while imagining you’re in a dreamy picturesque restaurant in the depths of a hidden Italian town.
The floor-to-ceiling windows give the restaurant plenty of beautiful natural light, while you can soak up not just the San Carlo atmosphere, but also views of Manchester’s Corn Exchange and of Shambles Square’s unique architecture.
We started (naturally) with a glass of fizz while we took in our surroundings. Sky blue seating and pretty flowers conjure up images of the Italian riviera immediately (oversized sunglasses and an open top classic Maserati – absolutely necessary!). The generous menu grabbed our attention and thrust platefuls of luscious creamy burrata in our direction. Lashings of parma ham and a smattering of black truffle added substance to the dish, while Sicilan Arancini from the fritti or ‘traditional friend Italian street food’ section of the menu were amazing towers of perfection. These large, cone sized delights packed some serious punch with the flavour – a crispy exterior and rich beef ragu filling all in one mouthful. We also tried beautifully fresh tempura prawns which took on a whole new flavour profile when dunked in rich, spicy mayo.
Scallops came served in shells, spongy in texture, I could’ve easily eaten 10 of these tasty bite sized morsels, alas two would have to do! The ravioli lobster was dreamy, doused in a juicy, luscious and silky bisque complete with the odd shrimp to add texture and flavour. While San Carlo are renowned for their extensive range of delicious Italian pizzas, we were on a pasta mission and devoured the taglioni with lobster and cherry tomatoes – a choice made by friend Hayley who’s also a new mum and watching the calories! The menu includes the calorie count of each dish and this dish comes in particularly low in comparison to some of the richer, heavier dishes on there!
While there’s no room for dessert, there’s always room for wine and we finished with yet another glass of crisp cold Sauvignon Bianco (Veneto) which went well with the seafood, and was also rather good on its own! There’s really nothing like a long boozy lunch in the middle of the week is there?! Turns out San Carlo Bottega is the perfect place to do it.
San Carlo Bottega also offers a ‘The San Carlo Bottega Tasting Experience’ Experience Concierge package for £40pp. This is available to book in store, online or email Selfridges Exchange Square. The package include three cocktails – a negroni, gin martini or tiramisu martini, followed by an Italian sharing board for two. The perfect gift!