If you’ve been reading me for a while, then you know that G and I enjoy eating out a lot. We’re always in the hunt for our next favorite place, whether it’s for a simple meal like buttermilk fried chicken, or some drinks on a warm Friday evening. I’m glad to say that we’ve found a new favorite!
We really enjoy any excuse (Friday is more than enough for us!) to go out and have a date night, and last Friday was no exception, only this time we decided to head a little out of the Northern Quarter in the hopes of finding a hidden gem in the city centre, and oh boy! We did.
The place is called Al Bacio, and you can find it in South King Street. It might be a little hard to find at first, but I promise that when you take your first bite, you’ll never forget how to get there. But I think I’ve said enough, let’s begin this foodventure.
Francesco greeted us at the door, took us to our table, and then proceeded to ask us if we were okay to try some of his latest gin inventions, and who am I to say no to some alcohol? He told us his dream has always been to open a gin and tonic bar, and after trying these drinks I’m sure it will be a good one, when he decides to do it!
These drinks aren’t part of the menu, as he actually created them at the moment for us, to prepare our palate for the dishes we were going to have later, so you can rest assured that whatever you try here, you won’t find anywhere else!
My favorite part of this? Seeing how passionate Francesco is about everything he does, including our Gin cocktails, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Now, let’s start with the food.
We began with some cured meats, and of course you can’t go wrong with that, but my absolute favorite part was the baked figs. Francesco said that sometimes they can end up being a little dry when you put them in the oven, so he adds some blue cheese sauce when he serves them to avoid this. I couldn’t agree more with his decision (after all, he’s the expert here!).
The mix between the sweetness of the fig with strong flavours like the blue cheese and amazingly tasty prosciutto was out of this world. I could feel all of these combine into every single bite, and it’s completely different from any other classic Italian starter that you might get anywhere else.
You’ll read that last part a lot here. Believe me when I say this place is really unique, and even though you can taste the most delicious Italian dishes here, it’s not your regular Italian restaurant, so even if you think you’ve tried it all, you need to come here.
But once again, I’m talking too much and you’re probably still hungry!
After this, I felt like they had raised the bar really high for me, and yet when our server brought this second dish, we were completely amazed once again.
It’s not like they invented the combination between citrusy or sweet flavours with stronger ones, it’s that not everyone can actually manage to deliver an amazing combination that blows your mind after every single bite, using simple ingredients, and actually giving you a real taste of the fresh components.
It might sound strange for some, but trust me, these guys surely know how to pair complementary flavours. The mixture between the apricots and the smoked salmon was absolutely amazing. I definitely cannot pick a favourite!
And then the show began!
Let me get this straight, when they first brought out this dish I was super curious to see what was going on inside, but I definitely (spoiler alert!) didn’t expect it to be filled with pasta! Also, having the opportunity to see our server cut this open and serve our two plates with such attention to detail made the whole experience even better. I’m the biggest fan of restaurants that know how to surprise and take good care of their customers, and that was the case for the whole night here.
Isn’t that the prettiest presentation ever?
Even more amazing than that was actually watching how they served it, but you already saw that part, didn’t you?
Since the orecchiette cannot be overcooked, they’re ideal for this dish. At Al Bacio they cook the beef stew for a couple of hours, later they add orecchiette to the mix, and then serve them right at your table (I know I keep repeating this but I definitely loved this part!)
This dish is traditionally from the south of Italy, and even though my father’s family is Italian, I’ve never tried anything similar, but I was completely in love with it after the first bite.
This slow cooking process lets the orecchiette actually catch the best of the beef stew and impregnate themselves with its flavor. Two thumbs up for this dish! And for the person that invented it, of course.
All of this showed me how much effort they put into bringing real Italian cuisine, and yet not do more of the same stuff that we’ve all seen and tried before.
You know me. I’m always on a pizza mission.
We didn’t specifically come for the pizza, but we could stay just because of that (although this would be like our 100th reason, tbh). Margherita pizza is an Italian classic and you can’t go wrong with that, especially if it’s oven baked (because you know how much I like oven baked pizza!).
The pizza was rich in tomato flavour, and you could taste the freshness of the ingredients in each bite. It was extra cheesy and thin crust, just how I like it! This was another win (just like everything else we had).
And then finally, for dessert, we had the creamiest cheesecake ever.
The best surprise when they brought this out for us was tasting the cheesecake and realizing it wasn’t your regular –sometimes too sweet– cheesecake.
This one was a lot creamier and not as sweet, but when paired with the fresh berries gave you the perfect amount of sugar in each bite.
Bonus points for a crust that was as thick as I like them, because I definitely hate crumbly crusts that don’t get to my mouth in one piece, and I hope I’m not the only one!
After all this amazing food, all I can say is you need to visit them.
We were fortunate enough to try some of their inventions that will soon be on the menu, and we loved every single bite we took; but our absolute favorite part of this whole experience was being able to see Francesco and his team work to make everything perfect, not only for us, but for everyone else at the restaurant.
Once again, I love seeing passionate people doing what they like, and this evening was an amazing taste of that and some incredible Italian dishes as well!
I cannot wait to see what else will they put on their menu, and what other inventions and combinations they might have behind those kitchen doors. Whatever it is that they put out, I’m sure it will be amazing!
Now tell me about your experience with Italian food? Have you ever had anything similar to any of the dishes I mentioned today? What’s your favorite Italian dish? I’d love to know!
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I’ll talk to you again soon.
Al Bacio | Ristorante Italiano & Bar
14 S King St
Manchester M2 6DW
+44 161 832 7669