Adam Smith, chef at Mangiamo!, looks over orders on a busy Friday night.
Credit: Ben Breier
Traditional Italian food is getting a culinary makeover at Mangiamo! Salads covered in candy pecans and pears, fried pickles with a creamy honey chipolte sauce, and mac and cheese with pancetta and banana peppers are just a few of Executive Chef Adam Smith’s creations.
Walking through the doors of the Mangiamo!, located where the Black Squirrel Pub used to be on State Route 43, one feels at home. Surrounding the bar are luxurious leather couches and a cozy fireplace, perfect for sharing a romantic glass of wine.
Mangiamo! offers a selection of comparably priced wines – most of them are around $5 a glass. As a red wine lover, I sampled several from the wine list. I fell in love with the Mackenzie Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma, California. This will soon be bottled under the restaurant’s own label as a house wine.
Since its opening in November, I have visited Mangiamo! twice and have sampled a majority of the menu. Although I am not the biggest seafood lover, I brought someone who does appreciate that style of food along for the tasting.
For appetizers I tried breaded and fried pickles. Although the thought of warm pickles sort of intimidated me, the flavor combination is unlike anything I have every tried – for the better. The presentation of this dish, and all of them, exceeded my expectations with shaped plates and creative garnishes.
A more traditional option, fennel sausage and risotto stuffed pepper, is a little too spicy for my bland tastes. It has a lot of kick, but good flavor and a nice sauce. My co-taster said the mildness of the sausage counters the spicy pepper taste well.
Another appetizer, the char-grilled calamari stuffed with crab, is a unique option to start off a nice dinner. It is very flavorful, and it goes well over angel hair pasta and olives.
If you prefer to start your meal off with a soup or a salad, Mangiamo! has zest-infused options like arugula with white peppercorn vinaigrette and maple raspberry vinaigrette salads. The maple raspberry salad tastes like a fruity delight on a bed of greens.
Side salad portions of the raspberry and traditional house salads are available with the meals for $3 additional.
Even though minestrone is the only soup on the menu, it’s not a bad option. It has a variety of spices and ingredients, but it’s close to overkill.
While sitting at the cozy table in-between courses, we dined on warm bread. The table has little bowls to mix vinegar and garlic oil for dipping, which is always a plus in my book. I love being able to pour and mix it to my liking.
The menu has several unique combination pizzas, and surprisingly none of them include pepperoni. I tried the peppered pork and sun-dried cherries pizza. Although very unusual, the taste combinations on this pizza are some of the best I have ever tasted. For a sauceless pizza, the crust is a bit dry, but it has a nice texture and taste.
I would venture to guess that ‘All grown up’ mac n’ cheese on the menu at a finer dining establishment isn’t common, and neither is the tangy flavor of this masterpiece. Mind the cheesy name and go for a bowl of this surprisingly strong-tasting dish.
If pasta isn’t what you are looking for, the chef makes a salmon dish. My co-taster said the tomato-pesto sauce really fills out the flavor after the initial taste of the fish.
And if all that doesn’t fill you up, there are delightful deserts. If you like citrus, the passion fruit is heaven in a bowl. It’s a creamy yogurt-like goodness with a fruity twist.
But if you’re looking for more than delicious food, Mangiamo! is the place to go for attentive service, great atmosphere and nothing bland.
While it has the entire expensive, high-class restaurant feel, there are menu items that fit the college demographic. And the owner, Mike Beder, said he plans to have a Cheap Date Night special on Thursdays next semester. This would feature one of their gourmet pizzas and a bottle of wine or pitcher of beer for about $25.
Make e-reservations for Mangiamo! at mangiamotwinlakes.com.
Contact ALL editor Kimberly Dick at [email protected]
Chargrilled calamari stuffed with crab, $10 – Stater rating (Out of 5): *****
Fennel sausage and risotto stuffed banana peppers, $8 – Stater rating: ****
Fried pickles, $5 – Stater rating: *****
Maple raspberry vinaigrette, $6 – Stater rating: **1/2
Minestrone, $5 – Stater rating: ***
‘All grown up’ mac n’ cheese, $11 – Stater rating: ***
1/2Red pepper gnocchi, $14 – Stater rating: ***
Pepper pork tenderloin, sun dried cherries, arugula and chevre cheese pizza, $13 – Stater rating: ****
Sun dried tomato-pesto encrusted salmon, $16 – Stater rating: *****
Veal romano, $21 – Stater rating: *****
Passion fruit, $6 – Stater rating: *****
Mocha almond tartufo, $6 – Stater rating: ****