Doms Tavola Calda – Manchester

I do love Italian food and as many of you will know, I try my hand at various pastas at home all the time. I am therefore very fussy when it comes to eating Italian food out in restaurants.

With so many Italian restaurants offering the blandest and most unauthentic products, I choose my pasta with caution and having found a couple of perfectly authentic tastes in a couple of well know Manchester restaurants I usually now stick to those, however these do tend to be more upmarket, so when I was offered the chance to try out Dom’s Tavola Calda I was intrigued to see what I would find.

Having walked straight past this building on a number of occasions I had never been tempted in before. Usually tending to stick to the other side of the road, with the concrete jungle that forms the Renaissance Hotel on Deansgate not really giving a great image. Dom’s is tucked into the corner of this towering mess and looked surprisingly welcoming on a cold and dark November evening.

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On arrival I was pleasantly surprised by the welcoming charm of the interior, rather than the upmarket Italian restaurant I have become accustomed to, Dom’s had a very casual but authentic feel to it, in fact you could be excused for thinking you were in a local restaurant in Italy, rather than in a UK City Centre.

Service was also pleasantly friendly with drink orders taken quickly and menus handed out. The main menu is vast and could probably be halved in size, big menus always mean a long wait while my partner decides, re-decides and decides again.

The specials menu was much smaller, with a few handwritten specials. To be honest, I like a restaurant that changes its menu slightly on a regular basis, it tends to encourage you to try new things.

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For starter I opted for the Arancini which is always one of my favourites. Those gooey rice balls with a crispy outer are just pure Italian comfort food and these ones did not disappoint.

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The Arancini was a large ball of rice that was packed with flavour, filled with a moist rice, bolognaise and cheese, they were accompanied by a tomato sauce, also packing a great flavour with a hit of chilli.

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My partner choose the Crocchette, a Croquette made with Chicken, Potato and Herbs. I was pleased with this choice, as they were also a new experience for me and I have to say that I was equally wowed by these.

Again crispy on the outside but soft and flavoursome on the inside, with a good helping of chicken. These came on a small bed of rocket with a little sauce on the plate, if I had a critic at all, it would be ‘More Sauce!’ In fact we both took to adding the tomato sauce from my starter to these as well, and it worked well.

On to mains and I decided to go from the Specials Board, a simple Meat Ravioli in a tomato and Basil Sauce, nowhere to hide with such a dish and something I would always try out at home.

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On arrival I thought the opposite of the Crocchette dish ‘ Too Much Sauce’. I couldn’t see the Ravioli just a pile of thick tomato sauce, however on tasting I took that back because the sauce was packed with intense flavours and I wanted to spoon it into my mouth all at once.

The Pasta with nice and thin and cooked just Al Dente, the filling however was too ‘blended’ for my liking and meant the dish was very lacking in texture, I personally would like a little more chew. The flavours however I couldn’t fault and this was clearly a handmade dish which overall I thoroughly enjoyed.

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My partner finally settled on the Carbonara. It was the first dish I taught her to make from scratch at home, albeit unbeknown to her all those years ago that it wasn’t Carbonara, but in fact a cream sauce. My bad but this dish was easier and safer to teach at the time, I’ve now been gradually weaning her off the cream and onto egg for an authentic dish. As a result she now likes to try it everywhere we go and she is becoming a bit of a Carbonara expert.

This one was definitely a traditional one, a silky egg coating on the spaghetti that was bursting with parmesan and bacon flavours. ‘Much better than that last place we went to’ she stated so that was a win as well.

Overall the experience was a very good one, this restaurant doesn’t have the wow factor, but then it doesn’t try to have, what it does have is a homely and authentic feel with a great tasting, home cooked Italian menu and one that I would be only too happy to eat again.

Dom’s Tavola Calda can be found at 40-42 Deansgate next to Renaissance Hotel

#I was invited to try out the menu by Dom’s in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own opinions

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