It’s very rare after a visit to a restaurant in the UK these days to feel all four of the following: full, happy, healthy and not completely skint. Food prices have rocketed but also I think we’re a bit daft, paying through-the-nose prices for mediocre cooking, hyped up ‘experiences’ i.e. burgers, and often shoddy service. My interest was piqued by a recent ‘Top Ten Italian restaurants in Manchester’ feature which raved about a little place in Clayton. Splutters, CLAYTON? Not posh Cheshire, not the trendy NQ and not glittery Spinningfields, but a somewhat yet to be glamorised part of our fair city. I totally fancied it, especially when I read this quote from chef patron Bruno Polluthi: “I don’t understand how people can charge £14 for lasagna or chicken. We use the finest ingredients, our olive oil and even our flour is sent over by my brother from Italy, and there is just no need to rob people to make a profit.”
So on a chilly night in November four of us Ubered over to Clayton to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll sum it up. We all came out feeling like we’d eaten at our mums, if our mums were homely, warming Italian mamas with comforting breasts, generous portions and no nonsense kitchens that is. The menu describes Bruno’s food as orgasmic and whilst that might be a stretch on a cold East Manchester night, it was bloody good. We had 13 of the 17 tapas, all great but my favourites were the calamari with fresh caper dressing, mussels with tomato and garlic and the super sized whitebait. The tapas are £2.50 each. Yep, you read it right. Not £5-6 each like the UK ridiculous norm, but £2.50. Made you want one of everything, which we very nearly did.
The Mains section of the menu appealed to three of us – Grigliata Di Carne Mista for both lads, piles of fresh chargrilled chicken, sirloin and ribs with salad and chips for £13.50 (top right below). They didn’t speak much whilst eating, always a good sign. The ribs were the only item of the evening to get a lower than top score, just a touch gristly but still devoured. I tasted the chicken, it was superb. I’d have liked a sauce with it, Mr M didn’t care and as it was his after all, and I was just stealing bits, my opinion didn’t count 😉
My main was the Guazzetto Di Pesce (bottom left below) which was absolutely beautiful, perfect prawns, scallops, mussels and calamari in a rich chilli tomato sauce. No scrimping on seafood, no fluffy flavours, just nailing simple, effective tastes with delicious bread to mop up the sauces. For £9.50.
Em’s Ravioli Lobster looked lovely and she was delighted with it, creamy, fishy king prawn heaven at £8.50. I kid you not.
The party of 14 on the tables next to us were on the Meal Deal pizzas and they were enormous. Not enormous like Pizza Crapola Doughy Stodge enormous, but 20″ and thinly crispy with succulent toppings. I could see the Meat Boards laden with cured specials coming out too, mentally noting them down for next time. What killed me was the menu. They’d obviously sent off the copy to the printers, e.g. For Two Hungry People – 5 Tapas + Two mains + Two desserts = £22.50 and the printer had added ‘per person’ after the price because he couldn’t quite believe it was for both. Bruno had had to blacken out the ‘Per Person’ bit. Priceless and sums up his superb philosophy of serving decent food at decent prices to make a decent living.
Two bottles of very drinkable house red at £12 (approx, I can’t recall exactly), Limoncello shots, delicious brownies and cheesecake rounded off a lovely evening. The service was charming too. Each one of us agreed that we felt as though we’d just eaten on holiday, the food was so authentic, no cleverness just great ingredients served well. A visit to Clayton might not be your idea of a vacation but honestly, it’s as close as you’ll get to fabulous Italian holiday cooking without booking flight tickets. Highly recommended.
I don’t want to tell you where it is, this place is going to get so busy!! But I have to really don’t I? Call to book on 0161 231 8349 and find them on Facebook HERE