Best Italian Restaurants in Manchester

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spaghetti bolognaise in black bowl and parmesan cheese on top
sorin popa

There's a reason why authentic Italian dishes taste so good and you feel an inner sense of comfort when you dream about them. They're cooked with love, using the freshest ingredients and a dedication that’s been passed down through generations. Like most cities in the UK, there's an Italian restaurant on pretty much every street corner in Manchester but there's a noticeable difference in the taste sensation you leave with. So, we've sieved through our favourites to serve up the most noteworthy. Those that will transport you to the Mediterranean and almost certainly leave you with a craving to go back for more. Here's our low-down of the best Italians across Manchester.


San Carlo

2 white bowls of spaghetti
Bruna Branco

42 King St W, Manchester M3 2WY

San Carlo’s in Manchester is perhaps the most well-known Italian in Manchester. It’s part of a small chain of highly successful restaurants privately owned and run by the Distefano family; testament to the unstoppable dedication of its founder – Carlo Distefano who arrived with £12 back in the 1960’s.   Today, the restaurant stands proudly on the corner of King Street and is a well-known for its celebrity A list, premier league footballer visitors and papps loitering outside to catch a glimpse of them.  Its reputation is built on great food, service and a little bit of London swagger.

Most Italian menus are extensive, but this seems bigger than most from bruschette, antipasti, sharing plates, pizza, gran pasta to meats, straight up, grilled or to share.  We said it was big!  We like its variety and whilst there’s some high-end dishes, you don’t need to miss out on tasty Italian favourites like lasagne, bolognaise or risotto (also at the cheaper end). We highly recommend San Carlo’s most famous pasta dish with lobster, brandy, tomato, peas and a touch of cream, the Carpaccio di Manzo – thinly sliced raw fillet of beef with mustard and mayo dressing, Parmesan cheese and rocket to start and the Sicilian pistachio cake to round it off.

It could take you some time to leave!

You can book a table here


Rudy’s

Image © Honest Crust Sourdough Pizza via Facebook

Check here for your local restaurant

This is authentic Neopolitan pizza and it’s a great home-grown Italian. In a little over 5 years there are now 24 Rudy’s restaurants across the UK and just like in Naples, the team make the dough on site every day using Caputo flour and then double ferment it for 24 hours.  The pizzas are light and fluffy and only use authentic ingredients of   San Marzano tomatoes and Fior di Latte cheese. And you can taste the difference.  Our favourite includes the Salsiccia  which has Grana Padano, smoked mozzarella, fennel sausage  with caramelised red onions and basil which immediately transports you to a blistering hot summer’s day in Italy especially if you’ve got a glass of red on the go.  The ever popular Capricciosa  takes on a whole new taste with Rudy’s pizza base and comes loaded with tasty prosciutto cotto, artichoke hearts  and fresh basil. There’s a good selection of Italian red and white wines and beers  to accompany your meal.

Prices are reasonable for the quality.

If it’s mid winter and you can’t face the trek, Rudy’s offers a cute ‘Back at Home’ delivery service and you can you have great fun making your own pizzas using Rudy’s special dough.

You can book a table here


Tre Ciccio

tables, chairs and bar in the Tre Ciccio restaurant. Large windows in background
Tre Ciccio

4a Moss Lane, Altrincham, WA14 1BA

Is a hidden gem in the trendy market town of Altrincham.  It doesn’t look much from the roadside but descend down the steps to the basement and a buzzing trattoria will open-up.   The warmth from the large clay oven in the kitchen hits you immediately – which is perfect to escape a chilly winter’s eve.  The Campania inspired menu caters for all the family and serves a good selection of antipasti, pasta and Tre Ciccio’s infamous mains – Pollo Scucchito.  This slow roasted chicken dish heralds from southern Italy is coated in their own marinade to give it a great flavour whilst retaining tenderness and moisture. It comes served in an earthenware dish straight from the oven with potatoes for two to share in true Italian style.  Its Italian comfort food as its best.  If you’re not in the mood for a hearty dish, Tre Ciccio’s pizza won’t disappoint and there’s a good variety of 12 to choose from.

You can book a table here


The pasta Factory

4 pasta dishes of all different colours and pasta shapes
Pasta Factory

77 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AN

We love this place!  It’s located near the rising NOMA district about a 5 minute walk from Manchester’s city centre and serves up proper Italian cooking. Founded by a group of friends from Turin, all the dishes are created daily using fresh ingredients and that pinch of Italian love.  As you’d expect the dishes are simple and they taste divine.   You really can’t go wrong with whatever takes your fancy but we’d recommend bucatini filled with squid ink, cured tuna, black garlic sauce and roasted tomatoes.  If you’re not a fish fan, sink into the Ravioli del plin – little parcels of pasta with beef and pork ragu with parmesan cheese.  If you’re dropping in for a quick bite and a glass of red, there’s a good selection of anitipasta including Gnocco Fritto – fried dough, truffle, ricotta cheese and Italian Mortadella (pork). We also loved the Crema Di Cannellini – cannellini bean mash with shallots and mushrooms with parsley oil. 

Authentic Italian ingredients including mozzarella cheese, truffle, exquisite burrata and cured ham.

You can book a table here


Double Zero

3 different pizzas - 2 round and one rectangular with different toppings
Double Zero

368 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, M21 8AZ

Double Zero is a legendary pizza heaven in the cool South Manchester district of Didsbury (there’s also a branch in the city centre).  It claims to be the home of ‘authentic, handmade Neopolitan pizza’ and all our tastebuds agree; we think it’s one of the best.  Imagine hand-stretched, wood-fired puffy edged crusts with good quality Italian toppings – Salami, Buffalo mozzarella, basil, truffle mushrooms. The Vulcano breaks the mould a little with its spicy nduja, roasted jalapenos and hot honey. You can add any topping you like for an additional £2 each. It’s BYOB and the corkage fee is a modest £1.50.  With pizza prices around £14 each you can definitely eat and drink for less than £30 for two people.

You can book a table here


Gusto

tomato, mozzarella and basil salad
Luisa Brimble

4 Lloyd Street, Manchester, M2 5AB

We like Gusto. It feels a little bit special but without the big bill at the end. You can enjoy a little slice of art-deco, Italian ambiance, and fresh cuisine right in the heart of Manchester.  There are actually five branches of Gusto to choose from in Manchester depending on where abouts you are in the city so worth taking a closer look at the Manchester Gusto list.  The menus – which cover A la Carte, brunch, specials and Sunday roasts and desserts have something for everyone.  We started with the creamy and gooey Burrata served on a picked beetroot carpaccio with pumpkin seeds.

Followed by scallop and prawn ravioli with a rich lobster bisque – because it’s a challenge to get authentic Italian ravioli in many restaurants - and rounded off with tiramisu which was light and tasty.  Of course, there’s also a full line-up of sourdough pizzas, risottos, fresh salads and meat on the menu. Prices aren’t on the steep side and it’s a good option for the whole family as there’s a decent kid’s menu at £8.95 for 2 courses or 3 courses at £10.95.

You can book a table here


Cibus

Round pizza with chicken, pineapple and green herbs on the top
Chad Montano

847 – 849 Stockport Road, Manchester M19 3PW

Is a small but very much loved Italian restaurant on Manchester road in Levenshulme and it’s easy to see why.  It started life as a pop-up pizzeria and slowly built up to Cibus which definitely takes you on an authentically charged gastro journey across Italy.

It serves delightful small plates of ‘cicchetti’ including zuchinni fritti and parmesan, casserole of fennel sausages with savoy cabbage and cannellini beans, and the Polp in umido’ - octopus stewed in tomato sauce and red wine is divine.  We also devoured the Agnolotti – freshly made ravioli filled with rabbit and veal served with reduced veal stock –  home cooked and authentic Italian dishes at their very best. Of course, there’s a whole gamut of freshly baked pizzas made daily which are super tasty and will leave you wondering why you’ve only just discovered Cibus.

You can book a table here


Lupo

small cakes in rows on a white Lupo branded sheet
Lupo

Mountheath Trading Estate. Unit 65 Ardent Way,  Manchester, M25 9WE

Lupo is unique. In a good way.  Don’t let the fact that it’s tucked away on a trading estate in Prestwich put you off.  Its main business is making small-batch of award winning Italian hand-roasted coffee and baking fresh pastries like doughnuts, cronuts and cannoli - supplying local cafes across Manchester.  The café has a changing daily menu serving up a wide selection of pasta dishes including classics - Bolognaise, penne Arrabbiata, and butter and sage Gnocchi which is hard to find outside of Italy.  The lobster ravioli is also pretty special and transports you to the Amalfi coast.  Lupo’s pizzas have built up an enviable reputation and the dough’s made onsite daily.  Our favourites include the spicy Diavola with Napoli salame and nduja, or the Calzone with mushrooms, mozzarella and san Marzano tomato sauce.  

If you’re having a party, it’s worth considering Lupa’s rather special boxes of mini pizzettes or doughnuts.  You can check out their tempting variety of dishes here

You can book a table here