It was our prestigious editor Chadders “Not My 50th Birthday” and she’ll be celebrating all week, so it was down to Mr Dubai and myself to walk up King Street to Rosso Restaurant for the second part to our review.
“…we sat on a nice round table in awe of the original Grade II listed building’s architecture as well as the décor…”
Why split it in two you ask? Well, the truth is we didn’t have enough room to fit in desserts and cocktails in the first instalment. Rosso’s bar accordingly NEEDED to be addressed and as my old man always said when I did the pots in a rush: “don’t do anything by half’s, it just creates more work.” Reviewing desserts and a classic collection of cocktails was proper hard work.
After dropping my phone again (argh), we sat on a nice round table in awe of the original Grade II listed building’s architecture as well as the décor, including the cool Hublot (v.expensive wrist watch) wall clock that was apparently a gift from Hublot to Man United’s Rio Ferdinand. I only noticed it and pointed it out because it was the very (not fake, ahem) watch that was on Mr Dubai’s wrist.
The restaurant and bar is top quality in its own right, without the need to name drop Rio or United, though. Especially the bar; I’d say it’s one of Manchester’s best bars, however, a different category to the likes of our beloved Alchemist bars who present us new cocktail creations. Rosso, like Georgio Armani, is always current and contemporary but never sways too far away from the classic approach. The saying “if it aint broke, why fix it?” springs to mind.
We’ll come back to the bar and its fabulous cocktails in a minute, I just couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Let’s talk about the desserts.
Well, they’re actually nothing to write home about. But we’re not writing home, we’re being honest to the cosmo people of Manchester on our love-ly website. Pretty standard Italian desserts, really. Much like ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ star Amy Childs, look gorgeous but lack any real depth. We’d prefer after dinner to be a reflection of Michelle Keegan, who was actually under the same roof this evening dining in Rosso. I badly wanted to join her and feed her cheesecake and brush her hair but our Dubai wouldn’t let me and I’d probably get tackled to the ground and ruin my favourite jacket.
Anyway, (snap out of it*) I obviously had the ‘coffee cheesecake’ that was the Manc way of saying Torta Al Formaggio (£5.95). I’m a big fan of Italian icecream to be honest but to be completely unbiased I went for the dessert that involved another one of my favourite things; coffee. Smooth, melt in your mouth and decent subtle coffee flavours. It was quite pleasant, just nothing special. Then again, I did go to The Cheesecake Factory in Florida, so I’ve been spoilt.
Mr Dubai opted for the “meringue one” Parlova E Anavas (£5.95). He said it was pretty strange. Too many different textures that confused his mouth. Maybe he’s been in Dubai too long, who knows?
Back to the cocktails! We consumed a few delicious concoctions while still seated at our table with the nice view.
“Very contemporary, glitz & glam but never forgets its Italian homage.”
Bar manager Sasha came to join us at our table and thoroughly explained the cocktail menu to us:
“The cocktail menu is laid out in the style and order of the Italian meal. It starts with the Apertivi section then it goes into the Originali Del Rosso which is the main body that can accompany the main course. It’s not strict or rigid, it’s just slightly more suitable. The Classic Italian section which is more of a homage selection that covers all bases. Digestivi a selection of after dinner cocktails that are coffee and/or cream based that can be enjoyed as dessert drinks.”
Sasha’s Canadian but grew up in London and has been living here in Manchester for just over six years. Originating from the club scene, he’s one of the original Rosso employees and clearly very passionate about the Rosso bar. Sasha learnt the ropes from legendary world champion bartender Jamie Stephenson who created the cocktail menu.
Sasha went on to say: “there is an ethos behind what Rosso serves. Very contemporary, glitz & glam but never forgets its Italian homage.”
He left us to order a few cocktails while our desserts settled and invited us over to the bar before we leave to make us a few recommended Digestivi drinks.
Mr Dubai chose the Que Bella (£10.00) – a blend of the finest Bulleit Bourbon and Ginger, which is shaken up with peach, apricot and fresh mint leaves. He said it was a cooling pleasure to his palette. “You get the sweet Bourbon taste followed by the spicy Ginger then the coolness of the mint.”
Me, being a passionate red (Man United and hair coloured) went for the Red Passion (£8.00) – a long red fruity cocktail a large measure of Campari sweetened with Passion Fruit mixed with sparkling Cranberry juice. It was a fruity, tarty and passionate explosion. It wasn’t quite red, though. More of a pink which suits the taste, maybe.
We noticed the ‘Barman’s Choice – Dolce Vita’ (£12.00) which was one of Jamie Stephenson’s favourites, which we had to try without even looking at the ingredients.
Accordingly a true Rosso original, they came Ferrari red in Martini glasses topped with gold leaf sprinkles like details. The cocktail contains a blend of Vodka with muddled fresh Strawberries, Vanilla-infused Sugar, Clementine juice and lemon zest. Finished off with a “splash” of Champagne. We agreed with our serious face that it was very nice but only after three or four sips. The fizz of the champagne drowned out the flavours I think. Once it became accustomed to your palette it was very lush.
Having already had the pleasurable experience of a Pornstar Martini from Rosso who do the best in Manchester (£10.00), I insisted Mr Dubai had to try one. He’d criminally never even had a Pornstar Martini, let alone one from Rosso. His first reaction was “bloody hell, that’s strong. Strong but really, really nice.” Not a bad endorsement, in fact it’s exactly how it’s described: “naughty but ever so nice.” I know that’s how I like my drinks (and my women).
I went for something completely out of character in the Gondolier (£8.00) from the Originali section. It was extremely girly, bright pink and very sweet. It tasted like a fancy Appletiser. Very refreshing, though. Probably ideal to go with a main pasta dish.
“Rio had a party with 24 of his United team mates all on their best behaviour.”
I assumed it was obvious and people know the ethos but according to Mr Dubai, who isn’t a football fan, not everyone does: Rosso is the Italian word for red and relates to Manchester United. It therefor encourages the red, batcheloresque décor. Every guy at some point wants at least one of their rooms at home to be black, white and red.
Feeling quite sloshed, we accepted Shasha’s invite to the bar where he took pride of place and game for a natter. We asked Sasha whether or not he’d met Rio Ferdinand, he said: “Rio is a legend. I get on really well with him because he’s a good man. The United players are in all the time. Rio had a party with 24 of his United team mates all on their best behaviour. All really easy to talk to and approachable.” I wanted to apply for a job there and then.
Sasha insisted we try the Paerto Principle (£8.00). Being an intense Espresso sipper, it was right up my street (yes I just quoted Cheryl Cole). Dubai doesn’t like coffee, boohoo. I sipped away at the beautifully smooth and rich cocktail that was THE perfect after dinner consumption.
Sasha had a special cocktail up his sleeve that was confidential. It’s a potion that is not on the menu and only offered to their VIP customers. He verified we are the first magazine to sample it. A modification of the favourite Pornstar Martini (still £12) a step above the original, who’s name goes by the meaning of Rosso. Oops! There I told you. Much like the drink; I’m naughty but nice. Sasha will forgive me I’m sure, he’s a top geezer.
Rosso really does have one of the best bars in Manchester but because it’s a restaurant first and foremost; it loses that little bit of credibility.
On the I love’o’meter
We would rent the Rosso bar and turn it into our very own bachelor pad. Michelle Keegan can dine free, every day. I wonder what she’s doing Valentines Day…?
43 Spring Gardens (top of King Street) , Manchester M2 2BG
Check out Rosso’s decent website, visit www.rossorestaurants.com or call 0843 290 9100 to book.