What do I know about footballers? They throw tantrums, they like bling and the ball is the wrong shape (I’m from Wales, we play it different over there). So what about footballers and food? After the disaster that was Vermillion, I wasn’t too up for trying Rosso; Rio Ferdinand’s Italian offering smack bang in the middle of Manchester’s luxury brand stores and financial offices. With these type of neighbours, is Rosso more style over substance?
Certainly the setting’s impressive; housed in an old bank there’s a profusion of marble columns, linen table cloths and high ceilings. There’s a large bar serving an array of Italian inspired cocktails, splashes of red (Rosso, you geddit, yeah?) on the walls and a wall dedicated to a who’s who of the Manchester glitterati who’ve graced the tables. Bit too glitz and glam for me, I like my colours neutral and couldn’t tell you Maradonna from Madonna, but if you’ve got a fancy footballer backer and a clientele of players and their Wags why not celebrate it?
Everyone seemed happy to be there and the atmosphere was buzzy – there was a mix of suits, ladies who have husbands in a certain wage bracket and well-dressed couples – and they were all enjoying the entertainment; during the week Rosso hires singers to serenade you whilst you eat; I’m terribly British about this and am perturbed at any type of intrusion – but the lady in question was very subdued and very good.
First out, ubiquitous bread and olives found in Italian places countrywide – but luckily these olives were fat little grenades of grassy greenness – so grassy indeed that it felt like licking meadow. The accompanying bread roll was a little stale, but plus points for seeming like it homemade. Served with another big grassy hit from a quality olive oil, it was a shame it was let down by a substandard balsamic – one of those vinegar with caramels added rather than a sticky, musty PDO original.
Asparagus wrapped in provolone and parma ham was salty, fresh and had plenty of crunch from the just cooked spears. Roasted mushrooms with a goat cheese and rocket mousse was simple but gorgeous – soft, salty, oniony and light. By this point we were already getting stuffed, the portions at Rosso are certainly footballer sized rather than those eaten by Wags.
For my main I chose the tuna, thinking fish = light = small; however this was a huge slab, as big as my face – their menu inspiration must be plenty of lean protein for muscle building! The tuna was perfectly seared, very fresh and was accompanied by a caper sauce that could have done with a bit more punchy sharpness. My friend had been advised to have the ostrich she’d ordered medium rare rather than medium to avoid chewiness. The meat was cooked to perfection; soft, unctuous and dressed in a rich, savoury sauce on top of the softest mash. We’d chosen sides of roasted veg and chilli broccoli, but the size of the portions meant we hardly touched them, even though they were gorgeous and perfectly cooked.
By the time pudding came around I was thinking how good it was they’d seated us in the corner booth – we had a great view of everyone else, but we were covered by acres of white linen, so my button was loosened and with that I ordered the bombolini; sweet mini doughnuts with dark and white dipping sauce. I may have been stuffed but I got them in – the white sauce was a bit too sweet and looked a bit suss; but I think that was our dirty minds, no fault of the sauce, and I don’t like white chocolate anyway. A ginger cheesecake was the only really bum note of the meal – very sans ginger and too cheesy; but the accompanying rhubarb compote was sharp and divine.
Rosso is big, it’s bold and in some respects it’s a bit brash; but unlike other celebrity owned places they actually bother to make the food very good – although not traditionally Italian, rather more Italian inspired -rather than just trading on a famous name. The service is fantastic, caring without being obtrusive; the cocktails are brilliant, if a little lethal and the setting truly is impressive.
Oh and I know the question on everyone’s lips – did we see the man himself? No he was away, but I was assured by the general manager that he comes in at least twice a week and always gets very involved with running the place – so not just a name, but an active partner too. Impressive. And what do famous footballers eat when they own a restaurant? Everything off the menu? Nope; chicken breast, pasta and plain tomato sauce, every time.
Price for three cocktails, one G+T, bread and olives, two starters, two mains, two puddings and two coffees – £101.75
Food – 7/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value for money – 8/10; expensive, but massive portions!
Total – 33/40
Go again – yes, if we had people we wanted to take out for a good, decent meal.
Ps If you don’t eat massive portions I would suggest just having a main, or a starter and a pudding. I seriously struggled and had to send food back!
Please note the restaurant knew I was there to review them and comp-ed my meal for me, however the views are my own and I am under no obligation to write nice things. In fact, I ‘m probably harsher as I expect things to be perfect if they know that I’m there!