There’s nothing quite like good Italian food. Ask any group of people which country’s cuisine is their favourite, and Italy is sure to come up at least once. Refined and sophisticated, yet hearty and unpretentious, Italian cuisine is the ultimate comfort food.
I come from an Italian family, so I’m rather picky when it comes to Italian food, so I approached Festa Italiana – Manchester’s largest Italian food festival – with a sense of anticipation, excitement, and, quite frankly, a degree of pessimism. In my experience, Italian food in the UK tends to be overpriced and lacking in flavour, but I am happy to report that this was not the case with the food at Festa Italiana.
Sitting in the sun at Cathedral Gardens, I had a hearty lunch of bolognese-style ragu pasta from Lucky Mama’s, washed down with an Aperol Spritz. The pasta was flavourful and the portion was generous, like a bowl of good old homemade-style Italian pasta should be, and the Aperol Spritz was refreshing and delicious as always – it’s hard to get wrong!
Dessert consisted of a delicious Tiramisu-flavoured cannolo from Cafe Cannoli, bringing a Venetian twist to a classic Sicilian dessert. Other flavours available included chocolate, pistachio and salted caramel, definitely worth a try!
The festival was sound-tracked by a series of entertainers, the highlight being the Neapolitan folk-rock band Compagnia Sole Luna who got more than a few Aperol-infused visitors up and dancing well into the evening! Overall, the festival was very laid-back, with a family-friendly environment, and mercifully short queues.
While high-quality, crowd-pleasing dishes like pizza, pasta and arancini were available in abundance, Italian cuisine has so much more to offer. It would be great to see each region of Italy have their unique tastes represented at Festa Italiana through a variety of food in the future!
All signs point to Festa Italiana returning again for a sixth instalment in 2023, and I for one will be sure to come back for more!