On Wednesday evening we were invited to a tasting evening at Salvi’s Deli. We turned up expecting drinks and a few canapés . Met with a warm welcome from owner Maurizio, four hours later we’d eaten our way though 6 courses, had a crash course in Italian culture, and been inducted into ‘Maurizio’s Mafia’! (Okay that last bit isn’t true, but it rolls off the tongue nicely and Maurizio, along with his all-Italian team, do nurture an unflinching and uncompromising resolve to teach people what real Italian food should taste like!)
“Somebody asked for ketchup and mayonnaise the other day”, exclaimed manager, Italo. “I said no. You don’t need it! Try it first, the food already has flavour!”
As each course appeared, Maurizio and Italo talked us through the dishes and produce. Their knowledge and passion for food is inspiring, woven into tales of Italian life and culture, making you wonder why anyone would ever leave. “We want to educate people about authentic Italian food!” proclaimed Maurizio. “Italians don’t eat rubbish food. You can’t buy processed meat in the shops over there.”
Salvi’s have a palette of Italian produce shipped to them from Milan every week to ensure the mozzarella (for which the deli has become renowned) is fresh. “It is transported over land and the mozzarella is actually ripening as it travels so it really is as fresh as what you could buy in Italy”, explained Italo. “We tried to get it even faster by having it flown in, but the changes in temperature ruin it – dry it out and make it taste bland. We’d rather tell our customers we’ve run out than compromise on quality, but we’ve got pretty good at ordering in the right quantities.” So there you have it. You couldn’t get fresher, better quality mozzarella if you travelled to Italy yourself!
Salvi’s deli is built on passion and pride – for food, for service and for their heritage. “In Italy, you don’t have so many big restaurants, with new ‘in’ places to go to every month” Maurizio told us. “There are lots of tiny places hidden away. You go and find them – women cooking from their kitchens, serving food through the window. They’ll make a dish a day, and once it’s gone, it’s gone! They don’t want to open a big restaurant, they are content with their lives.” The philosophical approach is evident in Maurizio too. “My happiness comes from my customers being happy” he told us. “Even if there is only £100 in the till, if my customers that day were happy, I feel proud”.
So what sort of food can you expect? Head-chef Marco designs the menu which changes seasonally, but always available is the deli produce – Antipasti platters fresh from the counter include 3 types of buffalo mozzarella (you HAVE to try the smoked version), a selection of cured meats, olives and vegetables (£17.95 for a platter serving two). Daily seasonal specials such as Wild Boar Ragu with Scialatielli pasta or Italian Sausages with Polenta mash (both £12.95) offer a warm and hearty alternative with a rustic appeal. Try to leave room for one of the traditional desserts on offer such as Cannoli (£3.50), a sweet Sicilian biscuit filled with ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit. Also recommended: the Tomato and Bean soup (£4.95) as a starter or warming winter lunch option, and if you can afford to splash the cash a bit, opt for a delicious bottle of Italian red Sengia Rossa (£32) to wash it all down with.
Salvi’s Deli are open 7 days a week offering authentic Italian meals, traditional desserts, fresh Italian deli produce, wine and coffee. Pay this delectable treasure trove a visit and get on board Maurizio’s ‘Food Mafia’ bandwagon. Just don’t ask for ketchup!
Salvi’s Deli, Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester. M4 3TR
Tel: 0161 222 8021
Opening times: 10am-11pm Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm Sundays
By Gemma Latham (@carnabytwenty1)
Photography courtesy of Sven Eselgroth