Before trying the food at Purezza, I was sceptical.
Northern Quarter’s newest Italian restaurant has an entirely vegan menu and, as someone who has been a vegetarian for seven years but never quite managed to take the leap and become vegan (mainly due to the general nastiness of vegan cheese), I was unsure a plant-based pizza chain could win me over.
However, after reading about Purezza’s success in other regions (the Manchester site is the fifth of its kind to open in the UK) I put my reservations behind me and entered the restaurant with an open mind.
I was pleasantly surprised by the decor, an array of trailing plants hanging down from the walls and the soft pink and green colour scheme gives the place a very homely feel.
The furniture is all upcycled and the walls are painted with eco-friendly and organic paints, which gives the impression that Purezza is a company that cares. There’s also a playful touch downstairs with a set of swings.
The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating throughout, despite the fact that I took an age to decide on my meal and kept sending them away.
After much deliberation, my boyfriend and I decided to share the roasted garlic and herb potatoes and the dough balls to start.
I am a firm believer in the fact that potatoes are the best food in the world and these did not disappoint. My only criticism is that the plate was not big enough, I could have continued to gorge on those potatoes all night.
The dough balls were also delicious, they came filled with melted vegan cheddar and to my delight – it tasted like actual real cheese.
The pizzas all have fun names, too, which injects a little personality into the restaurant.
I went for ‘The one with all the Seasons’, simply because I thought it sounded quite poetic.
Purezza has its own patented brand of vegan mozzarella, and the authentic taste of this cheese made me momentarily forget that what I was eating was entirely plant based.
The garlic dip that came with the pizzas was also incredible – I would argue maybe even better than Dominoes’. I had to stop myself from bolting for the door with a crate of it.
We both wolfed down our meals and my boyfriend, a meat eater, proclaimed loudly through mouthfuls of pizza that if he had not been told, he would have had no idea that all of the food was vegan.
I was disappointed to find that there were only two gelato choices on the dessert menu, vanilla and chocolate – undoubtedly the worst two flavours. I opted for vanilla and, although I wouldn’t say it tasted like traditional ice-cream, it was still pretty tasty.
Given that gelato is arguably one of the most important parts of Italian cuisine, I would love to see Purezza expand its dessert menu in the future.
As we exited the restaurant we were met with a parade of topless men stumbling down the middle of the road screaming ‘It’s coming home’. The cosy interior of Purezza had allowed me to forget momentarily about the chaos of the Euros and that in itself is a five star review.
Purezza opened its doors this week on Monday 21 June.You can find the restaurant on High Street in Northern Quarter.
Food & Drink
Siam Smiles, the authentic Thai cafe on a Manchester backstreet
When Siam Smiles was still a little cafe in a Chinatown supermarket it received serious rave reviews. Since moving up to Deansgate Mews, however, it seems to have been forgotten about a little.
Most famously described as “the most exciting thing to happen since the days of the Hacienda” by Marina O’Loughlin in a 2014 review for The Guardian, owner May also made headlines for teaching herself to cook on Youtube after her chef left the business one month after opening.
National critics, like O’Loughin and others, were seemingly drawn in by the cafe’s novelty – not one review missed the opportunity to mention the supermarket, or tell you how the ingredients in the dishes were often the same as the ones on the shelves.
But since it has moved over to The Mews, an oft-forgotten back street within the Great Northern Warehouse complex, the reviews have gone suspiciously quiet – so we thought we’d pop in to see if it’s all still up to scratch.
Spoiler alert, it definitely is.
Two years after that rave review from O’Loughlin, rising bills forced the cafe to close – but with a little help, May reopened in 2016 at the Great Northern Warehouse. It’s here that you’ll still find her cooking up a storm today.
With bills firmly on the rise once again, we thought we’d pop in to shine a light on this longstanding Mancunian gem and are happy to report her food hasn’t faltered one iota.
We went for stir fried chicken Pad Ka Paow with jasmine rice and a fried egg, and a steaming bowl of KuiiTiwe Moo Nam Tok with fresh egg noodles and roasted duck breast, with two glasses of Singha on the side.
We also couldn’t help but opt for a hearty portion of green papaya salad with dried shrimps, a dish that’s hard to find but something of a speciality here, as well as a second glass noodle salad with plump prawns and minced pork.
The dressings, always made by May herself, completely hit the spot with their balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
We strongly recommend you pop in and show Siam Smiles some love. It’s not all just about the shiny new restaurants, after all. We need to treasure the veterans too – and this is one we need to protect at all costs.
Find the cafe on Deansgate Mews Unit G Upper Level ,Great Northern, 253, Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Food & Drink
There’s a huge burger food fair happening in Manchester next weekend
Burger lovers in Manchester should probably get themselves down to the city’s largest street food hub next weekend for a feast like no other.
That’s because GRUB is hosting its very-own burger food fair.
Perhaps it’s not the first city you’d think of when it comes to burgers, but Manchester is absolutely chocked full of an endless list of eateries and food traders serving up some of the most impressive patties you’ll quite possibly ever see in your life.
Whether you’re a meat lover, chicken fanatic, veggie or vegan/plant-based, there truly is something for everyone to tuck into in our city.
And a handful of those finest food traders are coming together all under one roof for the GRUB Burger Food Fair – which is taking over Manchester’s biggest street food venue and events space next weekend from Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October, and is promising to bring “wall to wall burgers” to the hungry masses.
The Cheetham Hill-based venues’s annual celebration of all things burgers returns for 2022, with traders bringing a special menu inspired by their own take on the humble burger, as well as a whole range of different sides, snacks, and all-American desserts to go along with it.
BON Street Food, Spicy Baby, Thief Street Grill & Waffle, Charlie Mac’s, and The Cookie Smith are some of the traders you can expect on Friday and Saturday.
And then, as is the tradition at GRUB, everything that is served up on the Sunday of the three-day event will be completely “plant-powered”.
Vegan vendors Boneless Brigade, and Dohlightful just some of the names lined-up to take part.
GRUB Burger Food Fair is free to attend, and will kick-off from 4pm each day of the three-day event, with no need to book any tickets in advance.
It has to be said though, that GRUB’s themed food fairs are always very well attended, so for that reason, the venue recommends that any large groups planning on heading down next weekend should book a table here.