photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Manteca review image



49 - 51 Curtain Road, London
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Hanging outside of Manteca is the carved face of a pig. It’s got a bit of Old Major, the burly boar from Animal Farm, about it. “All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.” You know the swine. There’s an assured look on its face as people come and go from the Shoreditch restaurant underneath, all eager to prove those words right by devouring crispy blocks of ciccioli, or deep-fried pig’s head. It’s a hyped restaurant. Italian-influenced with British produce. Nose-to-tail cooking. It ticks those boxes and has a bit of a revolutionary tic itself—brown crab cacio e pepe just like nonna never made it. Accomplished, comforting, and just a little creative.

After its prolonged Soho residency Manteca clearly knows what it’s doing. This is a restaurant that’s gone out on loan and is ready to play in the big leagues. Its Shoreditch home is big. Massive, in fact. Tables, booths, counter seating, upstairs, downstairs—you name it, it’s got it. This means everyone’s here. Self-facilitating media nodes crowding into booths for lunches over pappardelle duck ragu. Early days relationships, hiding parts of themselves but sharing focaccia. Counter-cruisers ordering two plates of this, two glasses of that, in and out.

Manteca review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Sizing up means losing other things, and the oat-toned Shoreditchness of this spot isn’t quite as low-lit-and-lean-in as Manteca’s old temporary home. Maybe it’s just busier. More people are here eating sea bass, duck, and other animals. Importantly, more people are here just pigging out. And that’s what you should be doing, though we think sharing smaller plates and pasta is the way to do it—and that also keeps the bill around £30 a head without wine. The house-cured salumi, Rizla-thin, is essential. It’s not easy turning a plate of sliced meats into something sexy but Manteca manages it with suggestively see-through prosciutto. As for the pasta, well, that’s where you should go hard. Duck fat pangrattato on top of ragu is a flourish that even the most hardened traditionalist will eulogise over.

Given Shoreditch’s propensity to attract pillocks, there’s something affirming about Manteca. It’s assured and confident, but it doesn’t feel the need to stuff that down your throat or feed you in a ball pit. There’s a stylishness in its quiet straightforwardness and, whether you’ve got four legs or two legs, that’s the sign of a very good restaurant.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.

By signing up, I agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Food Rundown

Manteca review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

House-Cured Salumi

These slices are careless whispers of glorious ham and salumi. Creamy mortadella with flecks of fennel seeds, or a prosciutto so delicate it begins to melt as soon as it hits your tongue. Whatever’s on offer, it’s bound to be good. These aren’t the sort of cold cuts you slather in mayo and stuff in a baguette on holiday, these are something quite different.

Manteca review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Fried Ciccioli

Deep-frying a slice of tender meat pulled from a pig’s head is always going to go down extremely well in our books. It’s crispy, moist, and the mostarda cuts through that richness perfectly.

Pig Skin Ragu

First thing’s first, a pig skin cracker—like a prawn cracker but, well, much piggier—is a brilliant thing. Secondly, when it’s being used to scoop a ragu (made up of slowly cooked and minced skin, soffrito, wine, and parmesan) it’s a complete sensation. This is simultaneously refined and comforting… and something you’d really like to eat in bed.

Manteca review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Brown Crab Cacio e Pepe

No, this tonnarelli isn’t one for the purists out there. But it is one for anybody who occasionally finds themselves waxing lyrical about their favourite crustacean as if they grew up in the same shell. The sauce is mega-rich and we’d recommend it as a sharer rather than as a solo bowl.

Manteca review image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Duck Ragu

Our go-to order. The pappardelle has got all the chew, bounce, reverberations, and everything else you could want from flour, eggs, and water. The duck is moist and though it isn’t particularly saucy, the flavour is full of salty, meaty, umami-goodness.

Pork Chop

While it’s undeniably a glistening looker, we can’t help but taste this pork chop and, at the same price, hope for two bowls of pasta instead.

Featured in

The Best London Restaurants Open On Mondays guide image

The Best London Restaurants Open On Mondays

The Best Restaurants In Shoreditch guide image

The Best Restaurants In Shoreditch

Where To Eat If You're Visiting London in 2022 guide image

Where To Eat If You're Visiting London in 2022

The Best Italian Restaurants In London guide image

The Best Italian Restaurants In London

Suggested Reading

The Hottest Dinner Spots In London Right Now guide image
The Hottest Dinner Spots In London Right Now

Paris Hilton, eat your heart out. These are the London restaurants that are definitively hot right now.

The Best Italian Restaurants In London guide image

Where to eat antipasti and pappardelle that will make you weep with joy.

The Best Date Night Restaurants In London guide image

So you’ve committed to leaving the house together. This guide will tell you exactly where to go.

Infatuation Logo
2023 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store