Have you heard about Nashville’s newest Italian restaurant? A couple month’s ago, Laura Lyn Donahue, who has written for StyleBlueprint in the past, gave me a heads up that I really HAD to experience Mangia. Experience is the right word, because at Mangia, you don’t go merely to eat, you go to be in the moment and celebrate life.
Until now, Mangia has been open only one night a week, but – breaking news – you can now add Friday night to the fun. While the Saturday night seating begins at 6:00PM (and is sold out through July 30th – but keep reading for ways to get in before then), a new Friday seating for night owls starts at 8:30PM and has room available – thank goodness. This five course meal, generously portioned, is just $40 per person. Bring your own wine for a $5 corkage fee.
If you are confused, don’t be. Mangia is actually a “restaurant within a restaurant.” The Cool Cafe in Franklin, also known for its fine weekday + Sunday eats (and deserving of its own StyleBlueprint post), is the weekend home for Mangia. Got it? So, Cool Cafe serves dinner until 8:00 Friday night, then voila, it’s Mangia 30 minutes later! Since Cool Cafe is closed Saturdays, dinner at Mangia can start at 6:00.
I had the joyful experience of joining a group of strangers one Saturday in April for an amazing meal. When you break bread with people you don’t know, but who are foodies just the same, you become instant friends. Add a muted Godfather movie and a spontaneous chorus of Frank Sinatra’s I Love You Baby to the mix, and suddenly you find yourself hugging people as you leave.
Let me start with the food. In a word: Amore. From the April menu, the fried olives, Caesar salad, filet of beef, lemon chicken, zucchini and fried Italian donuts (think beignets) were the standouts. Lots of food, and I’ve only mentioned half of the menu. Other people might argue with me over my choices, as everyone seems to have an absolute favorite. (And as I write this, thinking back on the meal, I’m tempted to book a reservation for one weekend each month going forward. It’s that good.)
The menu changes monthly and is served family style. It’s easy to overeat, so think portion control to allow room to sample it all.
Eating at Mangia is akin to eating at chef Nick Pellegrino’s home. Unlike The Olive Garden’s claim, that “when you’re here, you’re family” (but you never really are), Mangia actually delivers that experience. From the lovingly prepared, authentic cuisine, to the singing and the dancing, one evening at Mangia will have you saying “Mama Mia, that’s Italian!”
As an added treat today, Nick is sharing his recipe for his Caesar Salad Dressing – seriously the BEST I have EVER had. I have dreamed about this dressing, and I’ve already made it – and it’s fabulous. So Buon Appetito! Or, better yet, make a reservation at Mangia and discover more favorites. June menu items include grilled veal chops with lemon caper sauce, mussels in white wine sauce, rosemary chicken, shells with beef, short rib bolognese, zeppole and fresh strawberries in balsamic vinegar with mascarpone cream. Contact: 615-538-7456 or email [email protected] And, remember when I mentioned that Saturday nights are sold out through July 30th? It’s okay. Go ahead and get your name on the wait-list, as room does open up. That’s how we got in. Or, follow Mangia on Facebook to find out when last minute space pops up.
Mangia Caesar Dressing
1 2 oz. can of anchovy filets
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil*
In a food processor combine anchovies garlic and lemon juice. Process till all are ground up fine. Add Dijon mustard, Worcestershire and Tabasco and process till combined. Add Parmesan and black pepper and process. With machine running slowly add olive oil. Toss with romaine hearts to lightly coat. Top with herbed croutons.
* It is important not to use extra virgin olive oil, as it will impart too much olive flavor to the dressing.
Want MORE recipes? Check out StyleBlueprint Louisville today for three easy summer appetizer recipes:
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