If you already know about Vero Moderno, you’ll know how good it is. And judging by how busy it is on the midweek evening we visit, that’s a fair few people.
If you’re not already familiar with it, prepare to discover your new favourite neighbourhood Italian.
Head to Salford’s newly regenerated Chapel Street district these days, and you’ll be rewarded with an ever-growing community of top restaurants, bars and cafes.
Among them sits Vero Moderno – a real gem of a place offering authentic yet modern Italian cookery.
Beppe, the enthusiastic and ever welcoming owner who hails originally from Rome, chose the area to open his first restaurant after successfully managing operations for a number of successful Northern Quarter and Didsbury based eateries.
You won’t find tired old spag bol, lasagne or carbonara on this menu, but rather a collection of antipasti dishes, freshly made pastas and Roman style pizzas with homemade tomato sauce, alongside fresh grilled meats and fish.
New dishes to the menu include rigatoni pasta with a hearty slow-braised oxtail ragu, and homemade potato gnocchi with Porcini mushrooms, Brie cheese and crumbled Speck smoked ham.
There’s also fresh homemade ravioli, with fillings which change regularly, and on our visit is stuffed with delicate summer vegetables and dressed with sweet, juicy baby tomatoes which burst in the mouth.
Classic melanzane ripiene al sugo is a winner, the fried aubergine coated with a rich, fragrant tomato sauce and generously filled with melting smoked mozzarella.
A new meat-free pasta dish is spaghetti with chilli, garlic, cauliflower, capers and black olive sauce, topped with smoked paprika breadcrumbs. It packs a punch, the explosive flavours beautifully blended with care and confidence.
Another new dish is bistecca di tonno in crosta, which sees 10oz sashimi grade tuna steak rolled in sesame seeds and lightly seared.
It’s exquisite, the ruby rare and outrageously tender slices of top quality fish served with an apple, cucumber and lightly sharp balsamic vinegar salad which provides a crunchy contrast to the soft sweet flesh.
And it’s well worth leaving room for the beautifully boozy tartufo bianco gelato “affogato”, which sees white chocolate truffle Italian gelato soaked in double espresso with Frangelico Italian liqueur.
Speaking of booze, it’s also well worth delving into the range of modern Italian cocktails, which appear on a drinks list which also boasts a good and totally independent wine list sourced from small producers in Italy.
There’s a range of spritzes and new takes on the classic negroni and margarita (which features Sicilian grapefruit), as well as a playful Vimto Royal which makes the most of sweet fruity flavours in an alcoholic nod to Vero Moderno’s building – Vimto’s first ever factory.
That’s a perfect example of what Vero Moderno gets so right, effortlessly blending tradition with innovation, always creative but never showy for the sake of it.
There’s a reason this place gets so busy. And if you know, you know.