On each occasion that I find myself visiting a place on Chapel Street – restaurant, pub or coffee shop – I seem to describe them as a hidden treasure in this up and coming section of the city. But now this doesn’t seem completely fair as the hotspot on the border between Manchester and Salford has become fully-formed though only partway through the 25 year plans to remodel. Businesses in the area are now well established with a loyal set of customers.
It is great to see another highlight of the area, Vero Moderno, gain the recognition it deserves in The Good Food Guide.
Opening in June, this neighbourhood restaurant brings traditional, rustic and fresh cuisine to the recently-created Vimto Gardens.
Behind the chefs preparing the pasta dish of the day and proving the next batch of pizza dough, a sizeable leg of cured ham rests atop the counter. With the restaurant at one end and a packed deli counter filled with an array of meat and cheese at the other, an authentic feel is definitely achieved.
The party I’m with go for a sharing platter of cured meats and buffalo mozzarella (£18.95) which takes me back to a weekend getaway to Bologna not too long ago. This is paired with warmed olive focaccia (£4.50 and a cold Peroni Gran Riserva (£4.50) which both turn out to be a great choice.
Up next is the daily special, a delicate ravioli in a classic tomato sauce and with an octopus filling (£12.95). This perfectly executed pasta dish proves that simple can be best and confirms the Italian aesthetic and flair of the place.
The ‘ragu di agnello’ – lamb cooked in a white ragu with mushroom (£13.25) – doesn’t disappoint on this front either. Four ingredients come out five star. The combination of flavours is reminiscent of the highlights of a Sunday roast dinner, elegantly transformed into a rich, hearty bowl of pasta.
The typically Italian menu only strays from its authenticity on one occasion with the inclusion of a beef burger ‘Italian style’ (£12.95). This dish is also a triumph though with its smoky pancetta flavour and creamy buffalo mozzarella topping. The chips that accompany the burger are also not to be scoffed at as they arrive both crisp and fluffy in equal measure.
Lunch is reluctantly drawn to a close with a rich chocolate truffle ice cream ball (£4) and a top-notch espresso (£1.60) and we leave Bologna for Salford once again. The place is definitely filling up with a mixture of aperitif-sipping locals and laptop-carrying launchers. It’s a great mix that encouragingly shows the support the place already has of the people who live nearby.
Chapel Street is a bona fide food and drink destination of the city now, and my transporting lunch has shown that it has another great new neighbourhood restaurant worth seeking out.