33 years is a long time in most industries, but certainly in food land. When this Manchester institution first opened its doors back in 1984, Italian cuisine certainly wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, Don Giovanni has been around longer than Dolmio.
No doubt as a sign of this country’s growing desire to eat better, sales of that particular pasta sauce are now plummeting. Standards are obviously a lot higher than they were, and places like Don Giovanni have had to adapt to stay in tune with tastes. Last year they brought Michelin starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli who worked alongside the team to create a number of dishes, he’ll be making a visit next month to launch his contribution to the spring/summer menu. With all this in mind, we thought it was about time we checked in to see what Manchester’s oldest Italian had in store for us.
Kicking off with a classic, the polpette, homemade meatballs were tasty despite a dish that looked a bit more ‘microwave meal’ than freshly made. The best thing we ate all night was definitely our other starter, the octopus. Delivered fresh each day and pan fried alongside potato, celery and a touch of red chilli it’s easy to see why the polpo is one of the most popular things on the menu- absolutely delicious.
We were both in the mood for pasta for our mains, I opted for the lobster ravioli which came in a rich, slightly spicy, creamy lobster bisque. My companion chose the smoked salmon farfalle, perked up with sparkling little pink peppercorn that burst with sharp heat. The pasta is freshly made on site and was all the right side of al dente, I always think fresh pasta feels like a bit of treat, although the sauce did overpower my ravioli a touch.
A rather pert panna cotta was indulgent if a bit over set, the accompanying fruit and compote was nice though and my mate didn’t seem to be complaining, he’d eaten most of it before I got a bite. My tiramisu tasted good, boozy and creamy, despite it casting a rather sorry sagging shape on the plate, I suppose in fairness it’s one dessert that’s less about looks and more about luxury.
A note on the ambience- we visited on a Wednesday night and were quite impressed to find the place nicely bustling with atmosphere, unfortunately not always the case midweek about town, our server Enzo had us well looked after too.
Last year there were enough new restaurants opened to keep anyone more than occupied, but there were a few closures too, a reminder of the level of competition in Manchester right now. All the more impressive then that places like the ever popular Don Giovanni are still going strong after more than 30 years serving the city.
Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
0161 228 2482