Salvi's Cucina, Manchester

The first thing you’ll notice about Salvi’s Cucina is how colourful it is. No fusty old interior here or overly starched black marble ambiance, just a bright rustic vibe that immediately tells of freshness and lightness – the calling cards, in fact, of Campania, hometown of owner Maurizio Cecco. Lemon trees, basil on the table and that red, white and green colour scheme. The signs of authentic Italian food...

The second thing that will strike you is how good the food is. Yes the ingredients are top-quality and all the usual suspects are present and correct: seafood, pasta, arancini, gnocchi and cured meats. But it’s the lightness of touch that makes all the difference: note the dishes that arrive with shredded lemon zest, the excellent coffee and a range of lesser-seen continental lagers. You'll also be wowed by rarely-spotted dishes such as salsiccia e friarielli (sausages and wild broccoli), pasta cacio e pepe con larde (pecorino with lard) and branzino al sale (sea bass baked in a salt crust).

It’s not all so offbeat, however. If you hanker for a handmade vegetarian or meat pizza – or pasta dishes ranging from classic staples such as carbonara to clam vongole, or the ravioli made on the premises – you’re well-served too. Or try the fried seafood, vegetables and pizza dough.

The parmigiana and beef carpaccio – the staples by which Italians live and die – are superb; as is the buffalo mozzarella flown in from Naples every week. If you’ve only sampled the stuff you get from supermarkets you owe it to yourself to try the real thing, preferably wrapped in two slices of eggy bread – a Salvi’s show-stopper. There’s a generous wine list to boot – try the Borolos for something similarly authentic.

Perhaps where Salvi’s Cucina gets it so right is in the simplicity of its food – look at the menu and you could be fooled into thinking it’s your typical Italian restaurant and, frankly, there are plenty of typical Italian restaurants around.

Salvi’s Cucina is open seven days a week and has a lunch deal that offers two courses and a glass of wine for £15. Find it just a short walk from Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly rail stations – and book ahead to avoid disappointment. Buon appetito!

Locanda de Gusti, Edinburgh

We’re not sure it gets much better than this. Chef Rosario Sartore imports artisan delights from his native Naples to this Edinburgh favourite. But it’s what he does next that gives this acclaimed restaurant a deserved reputation for fine food. Sourcing local meat – and seafood from Scotland’s crystal waters – Sartore fuses flavours on a menu that will have you closing your eyes and believing you are on the Amalfi Coast. This is Italian food with the authentic under-pinning of locally sourced, fresh ingredients. In short: welcome to food heaven.

The menu is mouth-watering, with options for palates from the simple to adventurous. Octopus and potato salad, beautiful homemade pasta dishes and chargrilled seafood are hard to resist. Follow them with classic Italian desserts or the obligatory canolo. There are some typically Neapolitan sweet treats too – such as the Pastiera Napoletana, a traditional tart with citrus flavours and ricotta. But two desserts would be pushing things a bit. Wouldn’t it?

Ranked in the top ten places to eat on TripAdvisor – in a city with so many fine eateries – is an impressive achievement to say the least. With a classically homely Italian feel that gives diners the sense they have been invited around for supper by the guy next door, who also happens to be a wizard in the kitchen.

If you’re in a group you can book an even more magical experience. Ring ahead and request an even more authentic taste of Naples for parties of six or more. The Fai Tu menu, starting at £27 per head, is designed to be shared. Mention your favourite flavours when you call, but expect to be served from a small menu created from the best fresh ingredients available on the day. Following the Italian model of four courses and more, you’ll get appetisers followed by a starter of cured meats or seafood, then a pasta dish, a main course of meat or fish and finally a dessert.

Still not convinced? From 9th-23rd October, Locanda de Gusti is taking part in the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival. Mention that when you book and you can grab a three-course lunch with prosecco for just £15 - or a dinner taster menu with a glass of prosecco for £25. Great food in a great capital city.

Pani's Cafe, Newcastle

Yearning for a taste of the real Italy without the long journey or breaking the bank? You’ve come to the right place...

Newcastle’s Grey Street sweeps through the heart of the city from Grey’s Monument, turning into Dean Street before reaching the Tyne. Just a few minutes walk from Central Station, it’s an excellent starting point for your visit to the Toon – and a good way to work up an appetite. Branch out in any direction along every side street and intersection along its colonnaded length for just a few yards and you’ll encounter a great bar, quirky venue or tasty eatery. And that’s how you’ll stumble upon Pani’s.

The café-cum-restaurant is an enduring local favourite. It’s easy to miss, tucked away down a thoroughfare that’s little more than an alleyway – the easterly branch of High Bridge street. And it could easily be ignored, thanks to an unassuming frontage which makes this warm eatery look deceptively small. But it’s well worth seeking out.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this family-run restaurant’s recipe for success has been tweaked over the years but is pretty simple really. They serve up hearty, authentic food in a cosy and informal setting with no airs or graces and employ the friendliest waiting staff you are ever likely to meet.

It certainly helps the mood that the pizza-free menu features deliciously reasonable prices. It’s less than £5 for a classic lasagne and a couple of quid extra for a range of sides at lunch time. Over-ordering comes cheap, so live a little by sampling a wide range of dishes.

Whatever you go for, expect a distinctly Italian feel. Pani’s twist on surf and turf – bistecca mari e monti, a chargrilled ribeye steak with tiger prawns, chilli garlic and white wine – is an affordable treat and proof that Italian eating in England needn’t be limited to pasta and dough dishes.

Pani’s is close to the Theatre Royal, St James’ Park and the heart of the city if you fancy making a day of it.

 

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