Fans of Italian food and drink are in for a treat this weekend because the biggest Italian food and drink festival in the UK is coming back to Manchester. And it looks like we can expect some Italian weather too.

Festa Italiana brings top street food traders and leading chefs together for a three-day celebration of all things Italian and a range of stands spanning cuisine and culture.

Last year saw nearly 30,000 visitors flock to the event and, based on how busy the site was when we nipped down this afternoon, we’d say it looks set to be hugely popular again this year.

Entry is free. Here’s what to expect:

Street Food Traders

Cafe Cannoli

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Dense, flavour-heavy cannoli abound at this roving Sicilian street food cart. From authentic Sicilian pistachio and hazelnut to cherry, chocolate and candied orange, there are plenty of delicious ricotta fillings to choose from. Just look out for Carlotta, the refrigerated cannoli cart.

Taste IT

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Artisanal gelateria and pizzeria Taste IT has only got the room for six covers in their tiny Salford restaurant, so we’re very excited to see the husband and wife team bring their traditional gelato and sorbettos to Cathedral Gardens over the weekend.

Hailing from a small village on Italy’s Amalfi coast, ice cream maker Simona Ferraioli has got the best gelato credentials going. She first studied at the University of Taste in Perugia, then the Italian School of Gelato (yes, we checked and it’s a real place), before moving to Manchester and opening up shop with her pizza-making husband in 2017.

So ditch the Magnum and head down to try a range of artisanal ice creams and sorbets, made using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. The weather is perfect for it.

Vive Le Crepe

A Festa staple, Vive Le Crepe will be bringing crepes filled with delicious sweet and savoury toppings to Cathedral Gardens.

Cabrelli Brothers

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

One of Manchester’s great Italian food families, the Cabrelli Brothers make their first appearance at Festa Italiana serving up saltimbocca (veal lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage and marinated in wine, oil or saltwater) and filled pizza bread.

First established here in 1972, the family-owned Italian food firm makes ice cream and cakes from its base on Oldham Road and supplies quality wine, cheese, beer and pasta to Italian restaurants in the Manchester area.

T’arricrii

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Another foodie family making their mark on Manchester, Sicilian brothers Riccardo and Romeo first popped up on our radar as street food vendors at Hatch. As well as cannolis, they specialise in arancini – stuffed rice balls coated in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried.

If you’re heading down to the Festa this weekend, be sure not to miss their arancinis, filled with everything from meat to fish and seasonable veggies. Delicious.

The Pasta Factory

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Founded by a group of Italian friends, The Pasta Factory on Shudehill has long been considered one of the best spots to go when you’re craving some authentic homemade pasta. Vegans have shouted about their almond-based ‘parmesan’ cheese for years too, so it must be good. Look out for their mix of antipasti and fresh pasta (including vegan and gluten-free options) this weekend.

Salvi’s

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Family-owned Italian restaurants and deli specialists Salvi’s are the driving forces behind  Festa so it’s not surprising that they’ll be there all weekend with special fried pizzas and a range of tasty pasta dishes. Soon to open their fourth Manchester site in the Northern Quarter this summer, they’re proving very popular indeed. Keep an eye out for the amazing pizza hat on the stand!

Rosso

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Spring Gardens’ favourite Rosso is at the Festa serving up some delicious Italian smoked meats and deli sandwiches. Just like the glamorous restaurant, even their custom-build stand oozes a hint of luxury. This is no pop-up tent.

Magiamo

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Mangiamo are at the Festa all weekend, serving woodfired pizzas from their famous pizza oven. Built from the body of a Fiat 500, it doesn’t get much more Italian than this.

Proove

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

West Didsbury pizza heroes Proove are also at the Festa this weekend slinging their seriously-good sourdough Neapolitan pizzas and garlic bread.

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

A fine selection of Italian drinks has been specially curated for the Festa.

Peroni will be bringing a brand new Peroni Italy experience to the Festa with a chic mini beer pavillion, whilst Aperol return for the third year running to turn Cathedral Gardens orange with hammocks, Vespa seating and foosball tables (and serving Aperol Spritz).

You’ll also find a limoncello cocktail bar from Limoncello Di Capri, a wine and prosecco bar hosted by Zonin UK (one of Italy’s finest and best winemakers), and a lounge from Martini where you can sample their new red vermouth, Martini Fiero.

There’s also a dedicated cocktail bar serving up Italian classics from negronis and frescas to G&Ts and spritz.

Entertainment

Festa Italiana 2019: all the street food traders, bars, entertainment and times I Love Manchester

Bambini Garden

As you might expect at an Italian festival, there’s a special child-friendly programme of events going on throughout the weekend between 11am and 6pm.

Bell tents house various games and offer shelter from the sun, whilst activities include Venetian mask making, garden games, face painting, jugglers, performers, and even a pasta-making workshop hosted by Italian cookery author and food writer Carmella Serano Hayes.

Neapolitan Festa banquet

Hosted by Johnathon Schofield on Saturday 27th, a special Festa banquet will see Francesco Scafuri of Tre Ciccio and Maurizio Cecco, owner of Salvi’s, cooking together to create a friendly, flavoursome feast. Expect lots of amusing anecdotes and great food.

The Live Italian Cookery Theatre

The live cookery theatre will showcase a host of Italian chefs from Manchester, Italy and beyond giving visitors a chance to learn some of their most prized secrets. The free live cookery demonstration by Gennaro Contaldo on Saturday at 3pm is not to be missed, nor is Pasta Factory’s vegan pasta masterclass at 1.30pm.

The Festa Stage

From 11am to 11pm every day on the festa stage there will be a mixture of Italian and Manchester musicians and DJs providing tunes to get the party started. Flying in especially from Naples are live band Compagnia SoleLuna, who will be bringing traditional Italian folk music sounds to the festival.

Times

The festival is open from 26th-28th July, 11am to 11pm at Cathedral Gardens. Family activities are running between 11am and 6pm daily, with live music and entertainment throughout.

Live cookery schedule:

Saturday 27th July

12.30pm: Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen will host a pasta making workshop

1.30pm: Pasta Factory’s Giulia Martinelli hosts a vegan pasta masterclass

3pm: Gennaro Contaldo will take to the stage for cookery demo Q and A and book signing

Sunday 28th July

12.30pm: Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen will host a pasta making workshop

1.30pm:  Fran Scafuri from Tre Ciccio will demonstrate how to make the Lamb Cutlets that he will be serving up to guests at the Saturday night banquet

2.30pm: Zonin UK will be hosting an Italian wine tasting

3.30pm: Coming to Manchester from Naples especially for the Festa, Gianfranco Lervolino is one of the world’s most renowned pizza chefs & a regular on Italian TV and radio. Also known for his Neapolitan singing, he will be hosting a cookery demo showcasing some of his famous dishes and belting out a few of his favourite songs too! Gianfranco will be joined by fellow Neapolitan chef Ciro Campanile, visiting especially for the Festa.

4.30pm: Carlo Molon and Maurizio Cecco. Another Italian chef flying over for the Festival, Carlo is an exciting and influential cook, and currently executive chef at the Sheraton Hotel on Lake Como. He’ll be bringing his modern and experimental twists on Italian flavours to the Festa and collaborating with Maurizio Cecco from Salvi’s for a truly special Italian cookery lesson.

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