Exclusive Tasting Evening at Don Giovanni's, Manchester

Antipasti Italiana
Antipasti Italiana

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive menu tasting evening at Don Giovanni’s, by the lovely Ghida – who came across my blog on Twitter and thought I’d be a good addition to the guestlist, which mainly featured other food bloggers and some of Manchester’s food journalists and website contributors. What a compliment 🙂

The purpose of the event was to sample some of their new dishes, and we were treated to a fabulous 7 courses – including wonderful nibbles upon arrival and the most decadent dessert to finish off the evening. We were also there to test out Don Giovanni’s new function room – which has recently undergone a £30,000 refurbishment.

The Food

Nibbles: huge, plum, juicy, salty green olives. The most perfect little dough ‘pillows’ accompanied by a fresh basil pesto for dipping. The perfect combination to wet your appetite before starting any meal – the dough pillows we light, fluffy and small enough not to fill you up too much. The pesto was really fresh and complimented the olives and pillows well. Very morish, but I knew what was ahead, so had to restrain myself from eating one too many…

Dough Pillows
Dough Pillows

Wine: the meal was accompanied by a wonderful white wine (there was a red on offer too, but I stuck to white). Crisp, refreshing and perfectly palate-cleansing between bites. I’m no wine connoisseur (although I do drink my fair share when dining!) – but this bottle seemed like a fantastic and carefully chosen accompaniment.

Starters: to start things off, we were treated to a wonderful platter of Antipasti Italiana (pictured above) – a generous selection of cured meats, aubergine, courgettes, olives, mozzarella, peppers & tomato served with grissini sticks. So fresh tasting and the perfect starter to chose if you’re undecided and like to share with friends/family.

Selection of Mains: 

The first main course dish we sampled was the Ravioli di Spinach, which is egg ravioli filled with ricotta & spinach, served in a butter and sage sauce. I love ravioli, I just think it’s such a comforting and satisfying way to serve pasta – this version didn’t disappoint.  The pasta itself was indulgently eggy, the filling light and fresh – with an even coating of the rich buttery sauce topped off with sharp shavings of parmesan cheese.

The next we sampled was the Insalata di Polpo – a warm octopus salad with potato, celery, olive oil, red chilli and lemon juice. At first, I thought this was quite a strange concept, as I’ve not come across this combination before. It did however prove to be very tasty indeed – the octopus was plump, fresh and juicy and I actually really enjoyed it alongside the wedges of well-seasoned potatoes.

Insalata di Polpo - Warm Octopus and Potato Salad
Insalata di Polpo – Warm Octopus and Potato Salad

Next was the Tagliata di Manzo – thin slices of 10oz sirloin steak, served with rocket & parmesan shavings and cherry tomatoes. This was a very popular dish – everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The meat was so tender, pink throughout and seasoned really well. It was lovely alongside the sharp and creamy parmesan, juicy sweet cherry tomatoes and the fresh rocket salad.

Tagliata di Manzo - sliced sirloin steak with rocket and Parmesan
Tagliata di Manzo – sliced sirloin steak with rocket and Parmesan

The final of the main course offerings ended up being my favourite of them all – the Capesante Casereccie. This is a fantastic dish of seared King scallops on a pea puree, with sliced fresh red chilli, pea shoots and red currants. The scallops themselves were huge and cooked to absolute perfection. They still had the roe attached – my personal preference as I think this part of the scallop has so much flavour. The chilli was present but subtle, and the pea puree was creamy savoury – balanced so well with the juicy red currants. This really was a lovely dish – presented absolutely beautifully as well. Very impressed!

Capesante Casereccie: King Scallops with Pea Puree, Pea Shoots, Red Chilli and Red Currants
Capesante Casereccie: King Scallops with Pea Puree, Pea Shoots, Red Chilli and Red Currants
Capesante Casereccie
Capesante Casereccie

The dessert: What better way to end an Italian feast than with the mother of all Italian puddings – the classic homemade Tiramisu. As you can probably tell from my blog, I don’t have the sweetest tooth – so I am usually happy to skip the decedent puddings in favour of a simple Affogato or a scoop of ice cream. In this instance, however, I was prepared to make an exception. When the Tiramisu arrived, there was a slight gasp from all in the room. It was huge and finished to perfection – it looked absolutely divine. Once we had all taken our photos of it (typical foodies!), it was carefully sliced by the tentative waiter who served us all a slice. The taste really did not disappoint, it was incredibly light, fluffy, creamy – with a wonderful light touch of coffee and Amaretto flavour. A truly fantastic end to a wonderful evening of great food, fine wine and excellent company.

Homemade Tiramisu

Homemade Tiramisu
Homemade Tiramisu

I have since returned to Don Giovanni’s – but this time to dine in the restaurant which is elegant and modern, yet still has a warm, intimate feeling. The function room is great – it has loads of space and in total can accommodate 50 people seated and around 80 people standing for a canapés style party. It’s equipped with a full PA system and a projector, which I’d say is ideal for a range of private or business events. It also has its own iPod dock, if you want to play your own music.

The staff at Don Giovanni’s are very friendly, knowledgeable, polite and attentive. They are always happy to discuss and recommend dishes from the menu (if you’re indecisive, like me) and tell you more if desired about the ingredients and how they are cooked. Overall, I would say Don Giovanni’s is a highly recommended establishment, and I look forward to dining there again soon.

To find out more about Don Giovanni’s, or to book a table online, please visit: dongiovannis.co.uk.