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Friday, 7 November 2008

Restaurant Review: Azzurro, West Didsbury

Manchester is very well served for pretty much any type of restaurant you care to mention: Indian, Chinese, French, Turkish, Japanese, even English. The one thing lacking, to my mind, is traditional Italian, by which I mean poky little local places where the tablecloths are made from plastic printed with red gingham, and candles are stuck in fat-bottomed Chianti bottles wearing little grass skirts. The sort of place where you can get drunk on slightly rough red wine of dubious provenance, and eat an enormous calzone pizza for about six quid. If you know of any such place, please let me know immediately.

Meanwhile, I have had to make do with an altogether classier place: Azzurro, on Burton Road in West Didsbury. This is a clean, bright restaurant (no dingy corners here), with neat wooden tables and a simple menu, and a charming owner by the name of Emil. Continuing evidence that people are simply ignoring the credit crunch is that the place was full on a Thursday evening, so that poor Emil had little chance to chat, which he will do quite happily on a quiet night.

The pick of the starters are the mozzarella al forno - a huge ball of cheese wrapped in parma ham - and the chicken liver crostini - smooth pate served with hefty wedges of toast. There are always a couple of fresh fish specials on the blackboard - last night they were mussels in a tomato and garlic sauce, or grilled sardines. For mains, a range of pasta dishes is available: I would suggest the seafood linguine if you are fishy-minded, or if you are staunchly carnivorous then you can choose from several meat options including steak, chicken and wild boar stew.

None of this comes particularly cheap, with starters between £5 and £6, and main courses from around £14 and upwards. However, if you sign up to their mailing list you will receive special offers via e-mail, and can eat your meal smug in the knowledge that you are paying less for it than other, less-special customers!

  • Azzurro is at 242 Burton Rd, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 2LW, tel. 0161 4480099,

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