Manchester and the surrounding suburbs have a very special significance for Aldo Zilli, chef consigliere to the San Carlo group. He says that ‘[the city] is very close to my heart; over the years, through my work with the San Carlo restaurants I have seen how the city’s food scene has flourished. It’s a city that does its own thing and does it very well.’
Now publishing the 11th annual edition of our Manchester Food & Drink Guide, we at Food & Drink Guides have to agree. Over the years, Manchester has grown into a hotbed for outstanding dining and drinking experiences. Aldo thinks that half of the reason for this is the enterprising restaurateurs who’ve come to operate in the region: ‘businesses have seen the potential and invested here; we’ve seen new bar and restaurant openings almost on a weekly basis, many of which are independent’.
The other half is, of course, Manchester’s foodies. Diners are very food-aware in the North West. Aldo loves their open mindedness and their enthusiasm when it comes to trying new things: ‘back in 2010 when San Carlo introduced its first Cicchetti restaurant, the style of service and small plate dishes was seen as a new dining concept in the region. We watched Cicchetti flourish – it formed the blueprint for San Carlo’s global expansion – and at the same time, Manchester went on to become one of the nation’s foodie capitals, with a huge range of dining options available.’
Like many of us, Aldo is captivated by Manchester’s vibrancy and diversity: ‘[Manchester] is a culture-rich city. Visitors flock all year round to its sporting grounds, theatres, festivals, Christmas markets, museums, bars and restaurants. Manchester has become a must-visit city for food-lovers, something that can only be good news for its chefs.’
It’s not just about the Manchester City Centre, either; Aldo also thinks the wider region needs celebrating too. Nestled in amongst an expansive and varied mix of rural areas, the city benefits from a whole host of first-class local produce: ‘Cheshire and Lancashire are right on the doorstep and both excel when it comes to great local ingredients, from rare-breed beef to potatoes and speciality cheeses. There’s also a really healthy legion of artisan producers offering superb seasonal ingredients.’
Aldo wholeheartedly encourages residents and visitors to Manchester alike to head out and start taking advantage of the world-class culinary scene that the region boasts: ‘with every taste and style of dining covered, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for’.
Pick up a copy of our fresh-off-the-press Manchester Food & Drink Guide from your local Waitrose store or tourism office; get the guide delivered directly to your home; browse fantastic places to drink and dine at Food & Drink Guides; or simply peruse our digital edition below: