Chris Leach and David Carter’s strikingly affordable central London restaurant combines a passion for nose-to-tail cooking with the simplicity and conviviality of Italian dining culture
Chris Leach and David Carter’s brilliant British-Italian restaurant Manteca is one of those rare central London spots that proves cost doesn’t have to be a barrier to superior, chef-led dining.
The pair originally established the Manteca concept as the first tenants of 10 Heddon Street; a short-term incubator project created by The Crown Estate in partnership with restaurant consultants Montana Fogg, which allows talent in the restaurant industry to test new concepts and creative ideas for a short period of time in a West End space. They subsequently launched it as a standalone restaurant on Great Marlborough Street in Soho in late 2019.
Inspired by the regional cooking styles Leach encountered on his travels through Rome and Napoli, Manteca ‘aims to capture the simplicity and conviviality of Italian dining culture’, while also taking cues from the ‘up-tempo metropolitan’ food scenes the chef experienced in Los Angeles and New York.
Both Leach and Carter are best known as meat men – the former having previously cooked at both Pitt Cue and Kitty Fisher’s; the latter as owner of beloved barbecue joint Smokestak in Shoreditch – so it is unsurprising that Manteca champions a whole-animal philosophy.
The regularly-changing menu features a range of small and large sharing plates that revolve around nose-to-tail cooking, hand-rolled pastas, and fire-cooked cuts of meat to share. Sample dishes include pig head fritti with apple ketchup; house-made ricotta with raw trombetta, zucchini flowers and pangratatto; brown crab cacio e pepe; and rare breed pork chop Milanese with pickled fennel and lemon.
Despite its central London location, prices remain strikingly affordable. While those who fancy a blowout meal are well catered for, a party of two could easily dine for around £30 per head, with drinks, and leave with both their bellies and their hearts full to bursting. News that a second site, which is set to open in Shoreditch, already has us salivating with anticipation.