The cliche goes great things come in small packages, and that couldn’t be more aptly applied than to his blink-and-you-might-miss-it backstreet eatery long-since established as a half-hidden jewel in Manchester’s world class culinary landscape. Pass beneath the beautiful external foliage to find a small, minimalist, high-tabled dining area with brick-backed bar that’s almost always a hive of activity, with an unpretentious but refined atmosphere par for each course, thanks in no small part to the friendly staff. Bringing us to the not-so-small matter of the dishes themselves, which could give many neighbourhood restaurants back in the old country a run for their money in the flavour stakes.
Speciality dishes aren’t inspired by but taken straight from Sicily, keeping the menu traditional in contrast to the contemporary aesthetic. Among the perennial favourites with regular customers are classics like arancini, plant-based gnocchi bolognese and sheep’s ricotta filled homemade pasta with pistachio pesto, the latter’s name — Montelbano Ate Your Heart — betraying the fun, informal vibe here on any given evening. Meat lovers can also expect to be extremely well catered for, whether that’s the generous antipasti sharing platters to accompany a glass of deep Barolo or going full cow with exquisite options like braised beef tortellini topped with parmesan in a now-iconic homemade sauce — just like mamma used to make. An essential for any epicurean with a penchant for flavours from one of the prettiest and tastiest corners of the Southern Mediterranean.