What comes to mind when you think of Sicily? Whitewashed houses by the sparkling Mediterranean, the scent of lemon trees and the dazzlingly diverse cuisine. Food that’s simple and timeless. Shellfish and tuna, swordfish, pistachios, almonds and creamy ricotta.
A new hotspot on Mosley Street offers an authentic taste of the island. Insolito Restaurant is the sort of place you go to if you’ve got a real hankering to celebrate life’s simple pleasures – good food, great wine and a relaxed atmosphere.
The cuisine is rooted in Sicily, like its owner, Giovanni, who serves up the food with as much love and pride as a nonna takes in feeding her famiglia. (Nonna is Italian for grandma for anyone who fell asleep in their GCSE language class).
It’s already proving a hit with Manchester’s Italian community, and that’s always a good sign.
Insolito has a homely yet modern feel, with a bar in one corner and bustling kitchen in the other. The décor is a work in progress, with independent art on the walls and a slick and simple colour palate.
The chef is clearly more experimental than the decorator. The food displays great skill, technique and real Sicilian flair.
The ingredients are sourced from Italy – typically the Sicilian coast – and the dishes prepared in a simple southern Italian cooking style.
Signatures on the menu include gamberoni al cognac – that’s cognac prawns to you and me. The juicy king prawns are served in a rich tomato sauce and served on crisp slices of bread. The sauce is a sweet tangy reduction, which requires a good bread dunking to make sure nothing is left.
Main courses include the penne Mediterranean, with pasta cooked al dente as it should always be and a delicious buttery sauce. An aromatic beauty. The real delight comes in the form of sword fish cubes mingling with the tantalising taste of the tomato sauce, topped with aubergine, mint and pine nuts. This was all executed to perfection.
The delicious Insolito pizza has a crisp base, the toppings thick and good, and the taste is second to none. This is probably down to the fact that each base is hand matured for 72 hours for optimum flavour.
To finish, try the Italian coffee, which has bite and flavour without even the sightest hint of bitterness and, of course, the signature tiramisu. If Italy had a taste, this would be it. It’s served with a sprinkling of chocolate and hits the perfect balance of firm and creamy without being stodgy.
The affogato is a signature Italian dessert which comes served with a gorgeous hazelnut ice cream, which is probably the best hazelnut ice cream in Manchester. Clearly Giovanni’s penchant for ice cream has come in handy.
Insolito has arrived in Manchester with a bit of bang. If Sicily is off your holiday radar this year, this place is the next best thing. Tuck into the freshest fare handpicked from Italian artisan suppliers, close your eyes and, on a sunny day, you could be on your hols. Well almost.
72 Mosley St, Manchester M2 3LW