If you think of pasta in the UK usually one thing comes to mind: overcooked, unappealing and cheaply produced pasta made by the kilo – the staple of any suffering student’s diet. But if you’ve ever spent any time in Italy you know that pasta can be so more much more than this. Specialising in Southern Italian cuisine, Sugo is aiming to bring a taste of authentic Italian cooking to Altrincham.
Sugo is the brainchild of Alex De Martiis and Jonny Marcolgiese, who met at the beginning of the year working whilst making pizzas at Honest Crust in Market Hall. Neither felt that the English version of pasta that is generally served in UK restaurants represented pasta well, so decided to do something about it.
As I work close-by to Sugo, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try and the place on its opening week. Upon entering the restaurant you are immediately hit with the welcoming smell from the open kitchen situated at the back of the establishment. The hustle and bustle from the kitchen, matched with the warm welcome from the staff gave it the feel of visiting an old friend for a bite to eat. Eschewing the traditional drab décor of Italian restaurants, Sugo has gone for a more contemporary, urban chic – all white tiles and exposed fixtures. It’s not the most original design for anyone who’s spent an afternoon walking around the Northern Quarter, but it really works in this instance. The rustic wooden tables in particular really add to the theming of the place.
Sugo offers both a lunch and evening menu, with lunch served from 12-3 and evening service starting from 5. Both menu sets offer a great variety of vegetarian options. If you follow a piscatorian diet, Sugo offers a variety of fish and seafood options as well. After being sat down by the host Michael, he recommended the Scuie Scuie – a traditional dish that literally translates as ‘Improvisation’. The simple and classic recipe included garlic, chilli, San Marzano tomatoes, Vino Blanco, Parmigiano and basil. With that I paired it up with the house red – a delicious Sicilian wine that I would heartily recommend.
The service whilst in Sugo was universally great, with attentive staff that were keen to answer any questions that I had. All the pasta is cooked fresh to order and my lunch was served in ten minutes after ordering – making it ideal for when time is tight or when nipping out the office for lunch.
When cooking such a simple dish every ingredient has to be cooked to prefection. I’m happy to report that the Scuie Scuie really hit the spot. I was particularly impressed with the use of San Marzano tomates, a small touch that makes a big difference for that authentic Southern Italian flavour. It was a delicious dish I would have no hesitation in ordering again.
If I had one problem with the experience it happened at the start. On arrival, I was asked if I wanted water with my wine. Without thinking I said yes and before I knew it a bottle of water had been added to my tab. I also wasn’t asked if I wanted a small or large glass of red wine (it was lunch time so would usually choose small) and was promptly served a large glass. In total, an extra £3.50 had been added to my bill without my explicit request, pushing the total bill to £14 – too expensive for a working lunch treat. It is only a minor blemish on what was otherwise a great first experience.
Overall Sugo succeeds in fusing rustic southern Italian cuisine with modern chic dining. The vegetarian options on offer look fantastic and I simply cannot wait go try some of the other options. If you are a fan of pasta cooked the right way make sure you get yourself to Sugo.
Update: 04.09.2015 – Looks like Sugo has stopped serving Lunch during weekdays. I’ll left the original review as it was for now.