Monday, 22 July 2019

Sugo Pasta Kitchen, Manchester

Sugo Pasta Kitchen is one of those places automatically recommended when you mention you're going to Manchester, along with drinks at 20 Stories and a trip to the art gallery. In a relatively short time (I believe the Altrincham branch opened in 2016, and the Ancoats in 2018) they have become two of the city's favourite restaurants, punters attracted by their short, authentic menus of imported Italian ingredients, friendly service, and (perhaps most importantly) the fact that, well, the options for top-quality pasta in Manchester aren't exactly extensive.

Often when restaurants like this are hyped up to too much of an extent, the reality is forced to play catch-up, but I'm delighted to be able to report that Sugo does indeed serve world-class pasta, equally the match of anything available in the rest of the country and, for that matter, a good deal better than anything I found on a recent trip to Italy. Look, maybe I was unlucky, but it's not like I didn't try, and one half-decent plate of ravioli in an entire week-long trip to Como is not enough to get me singing the praises of the state of Italian cuisine in 2019.

Anyway, back to Manchester. With the understanding that not every blog post needs to be a 1000-word treatise on the state of the planet and UK restaurant culture in general (in fact, not any blog post needs to be like that), here are the three dishes we ordered at Sugo, and why they were worth every bit and more of the money asked for them:

Firstly, cavatelli loaded with an extraordinarily generous amount of mussels, squid and huge king prawns, in a gorgeous aromatic broth of ginger and chilli. Exquisitely balanced and perfectly seasoned, boasting excellent fresh, bouncy seafood, this was a genuinely great bowl of pasta.

And so was this, strozzapreti with crab, also containing a commendable amount of the main ingredient, enough white meat for sweetness and light and a good amount of dark to bind it all earthily together. With a punch of chilli and slices of cooling fennel, it was another expertly measured and executed dish.

Finally, my own strozzapreti involved a sauce made with anchovy butter and chicken stock, and so therefore was the best of the three (although I would say that). The flavour, as you might expect from such ingredients, was incredible - deeply rich and umami-led, with pinpoint seasoning and the same hearty, healthy texture to the pasta as in the other dishes. But there just seemed that extra sprinkling of magic dust on this one, an extra complexity in the sauce and punch from the chilli. It was about as good a plate of pasta as I've ever had anywhere, and though I don't pretend to be an expert on such things, well, I can tell you over the years I've eaten a lot of pasta.

Is Sugo perfect? Well not quite, but only because I hate communal tables with an absolute passion (there are none for fewer than 6 people sharing) and I'm afraid I'm duty-bound to dock them a point for that. But add in an incredibly reasonable drinks list, attentive service and a room that's bright and friendly despite the antisocial (or should that be overly-social?) seating arrangements and it's no wonder the place is such a hit. Apologies for the lack of scene-setting photos (they didn't come out), and for not having more than a few paragraphs to say about this brilliant little restaurant. But just like the menu at Sugo, sometimes less is more.



Matt said...

Have you been to Almost Famous yet?

Chris Pople said...

No! The thing is whenever I'm in Manchester I stay at my pescatarian friend's house, and AF isn't particularly pesci-friendly...


Love that you loved it too Chris, that seafood pasta is the best I've had anywhere - fabulous :)