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San Carlo gets clever with Zilli ideas

Celebby chef creates a different kettle of fish

Written by . Published on November 16th 2012.

San Carlo gets clever with Zilli ideas

Main image: Dave the Pap. The rest: Liverpool Confidential

THERE aren’t many Liverpool restaurants who do fish dishes with aplomb (and other accompaniments, obviously).

San Carlo does lots of them and this week it landed a bumper catch.

TV chef Aldo Zilli is back in the restaurant business and he turned up in San Carlo’s Castle Street kitchen with a shoal full of ideas.

Zilli has been engaged to add bit of vavoom into San Carlo’s menus, so he’s been doing the rounds of its restaurants in the north - Liverpool , Manchester and Leeds - to showcase a range of dishes he's created for the group’s restaurants, including its swishy new Knightsbridge Ciccetti.

San Carlo %284%29 %281024X768%29Caponata

So what to expect? Well as a chef who got famous with Soho restaurants called Signor Zilli and Zilli Fish, the clue is perhaps in the name (well the fish bit, anyway).

And on Wednesday, here was Signor Zilli himself, in his whites, cracking jokes and sending out platter after platter of the jewels of la mer under the eye of San Carlo’s founder, Carlo Distefano.

What can you expect?

Gurnard and stuffCrustacean nation

Starving Liverpool Confidential operatives were about to find out what Abruzzo's finest export can do with a fish or ten in the city's number one paparazzi hang-out.

To get us all in the mood, winter was banished with a sweet and sour caponata that brought the colours of the Med to the crowded table - in this case a joyous tumble of roasted and caramalised peppers, courgettes, aubergines and the sweetest onions. 

Then came a spectacular gunard casserole which swam with clams, langoustines, lobster and crab. 

Its attitude was quickly calmed by a beautifully firm and sweet Dover sole cloaked in brown shrimps. A standout, sophicsticated menu choice, people.

Dover Sole And Brown Shrimps %281024X768%29Yes please: Dover sole and brown shrimps

An out-of-the-ordinary sardine dip entertained the subjects while we waited for royalty to arrive. Then a fanfare: queen scallops, with fennel and sage, resting on a camp, shocking pink throne of beetroot risotto. But there was much more to this than met the (slightly dazzled) eye: the fish stock in which was cooked gave the arborio a resonance as deep as the ocean floor. 

He likes his fennel, does our Aldo, and it turned up again, in a rustic and earthy pork meatball and spaghetti dish, which brought us briefly back onto dry land.

Then another spectacle as seabass with porcini carpaccio thumped onto the groaning table. 

Top tip: Go hungry. Go very hungry, and don't make the mistake of going on a day when you have to be in a school yard somewhere by 3.15pm. It is thirsty work, this lot, and demands steely pinot grigio.

Scallops and beetroot risottoScallops and beetroot risotto

The master chef came over to chat now and again. “I plan to introduce tastes and flavours from all over Italy," he says. "Carlo Distefano is a man that I respect greatly in business and likewise, he respects me for my cooking, so a great combination." 

For his own part, Signor Carlo said: "Aldo is one of the most flamboyant figures on the restaurant scene. He’ll be bringing his great love of Italian food to our restaurants and a lot of fun too.”

Fun, fish and flamboyance. Bring on the F-words then.

San Carlo, 41 Castle Street, Liverpool  0151 236 0073. 

Seabass and porciniSeabass and porcini


Unless otherwise stated, Liverpool Confidential's food writers dine out completely independently, pick up their own bills, etc, and only score food when all of that is the case.  On this occasion the restaurant hosted the visit. However the pics (which we always insist on taking ourselves) will perhaps give you an idea of what to expect.

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