Food & Drink

Chef’s Table: Salvi’s 👨🏽‍🍳

MCRhookup.com are teaming up for a series of articles with some of Greater Manchester’s most talented and passionate food lovers, trendsetters and workaholics – Chefs.Salvi’s

We’ll be sitting down with the head honchos from some of the best restaurants in the North West.

Strap in and prepare to salivate over Salvi’s and stay tuned for lots more to come from a wide range of cultures and cuisines, different flavours and some famous faces.

A slice of Neapolitan life

We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit Maurizio Cecco, Chef Owner of Salvi’s, to see where it all started for him and wife Claire – The Corn Exchange. Salvi’s original deli opened back in 2011 on the same site where they now have a full restaurant, an outdoor terrace as well as the swanky new Terrazza Bar inside the recently revamped Corn Exchange atrium. Before chatting we take the opportunity to explore the Aladdin’s cave of Italy’s finest imported delicacies available in the deli to whet our appetites and get a flavour for things to come.

Trying to make the most of the Manchester sunshine (which has since seemingly become a permanent fixture for 2018) we pull up a pew out on the terrace, to await Maurizio who kindly offered to whip up some very special dishes for us! Salvi’s terrace looks out across Exchange Square, perfect for people watching. More often than not it is also peppered with Italians sipping espressos so it’s a pleasure to take five and soak up the sun whilst listening to conversations we can only dream of understanding.

Authentic Italian produce to take home

Salvi’s has been built on not only a passion for Campania and Southern Italian cooking but also its produce and tradition. The deli was started to provide a slice of Neapolitan life to Mancunians and the unsurprising success of Salvi’s since really reflects the quality on offer. Whilst we wait deliveries keep coming, everything from fresh fish to packets of pasta and cured meats are shipped in from some of Italy’s finest artisans every week. Salvi’s is the only Italian restaurant in the city to have this level of quality produce to eat in or take home. Maurizio later tells us he himself travels back home once a month or so to meet suppliers and relay his feedback directly, even tailoring certain ingredients to suit his Manchester clientele.

Chef Maurizio plates up perfection
Fresh octopus cooked with spicy nduja

Of all the fabulousness his favourite is seafood and we were treated to a couple of dishes straight off the Menu and a couple straight from the heart. The food Chef’s cook for themselves and each other on breaks or when they finally get home are often some of the simplest yet flavoursome.

The two plates Maurizio makes are pure pleasure – stripped back with only a handful of ingredients providing rich, very well balanced food. The balance of the dish is what is most import Maurizio explains, when creating something yourself keeping it simple can almost be the hardest part. Maurizio has mastered the art of simplicity and it’s never tasted so good.

Octopus with cannellini beans and nduja – a smoked spicy sausage high in fat which renders down beautifully to form the backbone of this dish. It’s soft and spreadable so melts superbly and mixes into the squid and beans to balance the tastes and textures. Nduja delivers you its heat without being overpowering or dominating the taste profile.

Maurizio treats us to some specials

The second plate contained some delicious al dente pasta tubes hiding surprises of pancetta, smoked mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes with olives and parmesan – again 3 or 4 ingredients creating a fortress of flavour.

As well as being able to buy the nduja etc. from the deli you too can become a pasta master. Salvi’s run classes, available to book, to learn more about the processes involved and to enjoy making your own fresh pasta. This is also something they have been working alongside Trafford College with to help train up the next generation of (fingers crossed) the North West’s best Chefs.

Light, crispy & fresh – possibly the perfect snack

After being spoiled with specials the Parma pizza is next up – available from the Menu – and is made in the traditional Neapolitan way. Hand stretched dough, fresh Italian tomatoes, of course Parma ham, parmesan shavings and a good amount of rocket with artichoke nestled in amongst it all for good measure. The way these pizzas are quickly cooked at high temperature makes them feel light & healthy and ideal for a quick bite – guilt free fast food.

Speaking of food on the go their ‘Rosticceria’ on John Dalton Street specialises in quality takeaway food and the ‘Cucina’ is right next door making it another Salvi’s stronghold.

psst Maurizio couldn’t say too much but maybe, just maybe, you can expect to see another site in the city centre soon… you heard it here first!

Incredible colours

Another Salvi’s staple and their signature product is mozzarella. The best way to indulge is the sharing platter! Sample a selection of fine mountainous mozzarellas with cascading cooked meats and breads – the ‘Tagliere di 3 Salumi e 3 Mozzarella’ is both multicoloured and massive!

Whilst we’re sharing – Festa Italiana is another passion project of Maurizio, who has played an integral part in its organisation and success. This celebration of all things Italian welcomed no fewer than 26,000 visitors in 2017, its inaugural year. The event takes places over a weekend in July at Cathedral Gardens (just behind the Corn Exchange) and is the perfect family and foodie day out to experience Italian businesses from across Greater Mancheter – Lupo from Salford – Didsbury’s Proove – Tre Ciccio in Altrincham – giving smaller operators the opportunity to forge unlikely alliances with international brands and giants like San Carlo, Rosso and Gusto. And, it’s not just food. Learn more how ‘Italians Shaped Manchester‘.

Maurizio believes in balance

With Italy not qualifying for this year’s World Cup football is potentially a sore subject so we don’t ask the question but we do know Maurizio is a keen United fan when / if he does manage to get some time to himself. It’s easy to see Maurizio is a humble Chef, his food and his business give him the confidence to be successful in the kitchen however he is not brash or arrogant in his attitude or approach. He has called himself “shy” before now but we suspect this is the understated professionalism that has driven his passion and success and is what keeps him working harder than perhaps the competition. Recently we’ve seen the likes of Jamie’s Italian closing branches, Carluccio’s struggling, Prezzo retreating – Gino is still only two doors down in the Corn Exchange but you get the feeling they’re entertaining completely different audiences.

There’s so much on offer at Salvi’s that it is impossible to cover all its bases as well as it does. Italian food and drink for a long lunch, romantic anniversary or to take home and try yourself.

Salvi’s1, The Corn Exchange, Corporation St, Manchester M4 3TR