The heavy pasties, pies and, well anything I’ve been eating on my England trip had been taking a toll on me. It was time to eat lighter, well, maybe switch it up a bit. Fortunately, a relative recently moved to the Manchester area and opened up an Italian restaurant. Of course, it would be the perfect break and a nice familial visit.
We had just finished our visit at Lyme Park in the Peaks District. On our way to the Cumbria region, we decided to take a little detour to the town of Ashton in Makerfield. My cousin Stefano had recently moved to the area from Italy. He partnered up with his girlfriend, her brother and his wife to open Primo Italian Restaurant – an authentic Italian eatery in this Manchester suburb.
The space was remodeled, by the foursome, to an elegant Italian eating environment. Complete with a small corner cocktail bar to sip while awaiting to be seated at one of the 15-20 tables. It was a Wednesday night, but the tables were full and there was a line of customers waiting.
Since we also had to wait for our table, Francesca – the hostess and co-owner – pleasantly guided us to the bar, where Roberta – her sister-in-law, also co-owner – mixed us delicious specialty Italian cocktails. My cousin Stefano – also co-owner and Roberta’s fiancé – peeked out from the kitchen door and introduced me to his ‘bro-in-law’/co-owner/co-chef. It was a pleasant amalgamation of extended family, I felt like I was back at home in Italy.
We sat at our corner table as the crew delivered a delicious meal starting with a trio of bruschetta: pesto, tomato, fresh mozzarella or melted cheese. Francesca poured us red wine as Roberta delivered delicious first course pasta. Pictured here is Primo’s signature pasta dish: the Principe Romano – a family recipe since 1996. We followed this with a dish of grilled authentic Italian sausages.
Finally, we arrived to my favorite part of any meal: dessert. We ordered Roberta’s house made sweets: a fluffy Tiramisu in a cup and a beautiful dish of Panna Cotta with fresh berries. As we dug into our treats, Roberta informs us she makes them fresh every day.
In the end, I was super impressed with Primo’s Italian. I didn’t expect a truly authentic Italian eatery in where a tourist would describe as the middle of random England. But Primo’s doesn’t cater to tourists. Primo’s focus is to offer real homemade Italian food to locals of Manchester, Wigan and the surrounding areas. As I looked around the restaurant, in fact, this was what we found sitting at the surrounding tables. Real English, eating real Italian – none of that touristy, gimmicky crap.
Thumbs up, Cousin!
Check out www.foodtruckitalia.it – the new website dedicated to providing all information on how to get your idea started.
Mobile dining is not new in Italy. I remember going to village festivals and seeing the 3-wheeled Ape trucks parked on the side selling fruits, candy, local delicacies and other treats. A food offering practiced throughout the country for generations. But the traditional 4-wheeled food truck phenomenon and the rise in traditional and modern street food has been growing increasingly.
I surmise the interest in 4-wheeled food stalls is mainly due to the fact of the increase in American food TV series airing in the country. But, the inspiration could also be coming from northern Europe. We all know the Northerners – like Denmark, Netherlands – have been offering foods in food trucks for quite some time. In addition, we know that this route is more economical than the high prices of rent for a brick and mortar, allowing the ability to offer low price foods to the public.
Street food dining is continuing to rise in Italy. With last month’s food truck festival and Chef Rubio’s ‘Unti e Bisunti’ TV series, street ‘cuisine’ is hot. Being both affordable and delicious; the fun and sometimes greasy, traditional and sometimes modern treats are hitting Italian taste buds in full force.
Italian street food is inspired by what was once considered poor people’s food: affordable and filling. Traditional Roman dishes, for example, originate from the creativity of the peasants, or other non-wealthy folk, making palatable meals with scraps. Examples include coda alla vaccinara and coratella.
And today, another new modern street food eatery has opened in Rome. As you can tell from its name, ‘Fries, Delicious Potatoes’ serves up Italian style, hand cut fries in paper cones.
‘Fries’ uses only fresh, quality ingredients: sustainable farmed potatoes, hand cut and fried in clean, clear peanut oil – intended to highlight the fresh potato flavor with a less oily taste, while minimizing cholesterol intake. The crispy treats are served in paper cones along with the option of house made ketchup or 20 more delicious dipping sauces; including curry, mayonnaise and more.
Fries, Delicious Potatoes recently opened June 2014 in Ostia (a coastal town outside of Rome) and in Rome on Porta Cavalleggeri in July. More locations to open in 2014 include: Viterbo, Avezzano and Emilia Romagna.
Fellow Food Travelers: There are a lot more of modern street food establishments around the country. I’ll try to share some with you; but in the meantime, get out there, use your nose and discover.
Sources: Italia a Tavola