Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mangia! Mangia!

After a full day of Freshman Parent Orientation at the University of Central Florida, the C.P.A. chefy hubby and I were ready to enjoy a glass of wine and a palette pleasing dinner. There were tons of restaurants around our hotel, but we were in the mood for pasta. Game on!

My inner diva demon was on the verge of  a total meltdown. In plain English, I hadn't eaten all day, my sugar level had dropped and a hunger headache was setting in. Time was of the essence! We whipped out our iPhones and searched Yelp for an Italian restaurant worthy of our discerning taste. Moments later, my head was in full migraine mode. I NEEDED TO EAT! "I think I've found a place!" my chefy hubby announced, while loading the restaurant's address into our car's GPS. Within five minutes we pulled up to our destination.

Mangia Italian Bistro is nestled in a shopping center at the corner of University Blvd and Dean Road. The center is configured in such a way, it makes it difficult to see the restaurant's sign from the road. (Thank goodness for our GPS!) The bistro's decor is unpretentious and simple.You won't find linen napkins here. What you will find is Chef/Owner Maureen Simmons' gastronomical Italian creations that will send your taste buds into a tizzy. Mangia's menu includes a variety of homemade pastas and  flatbread pizzas,as well as, several chicken and steak options. Our server Brad, was friendly, attentive and extremely knowledgeable as to how items were prepared.

After taking our order, he brought out our salads and a basket of fresh baked breads. It took all my willpower to keep from eating the entire basket of bread. The dressing on the Caesar salad wasn't overpowering. It was simply divine! The chefy hubby had selected the special for his main entree, an eggplant rollatini. For those unfamiliar with eggplant rollatini, it's similar to manicotti. Manicotti is made with a tubular shaped pasta, stuffed with a variety of cheeses, vegetables, beef, chicken or seafood and baked in a tomato sauce. Eggplant rollatini is created using thin slices of lightly breaded eggplant in place of pasta. It's lower in fat than manicotti and in my opinion, just as delicious.

Dinner arrived shortly after our salad plates were cleared. My hubby's face filled with joy, as he savored his first bite. Quickly loading up his fork for another bite, he lunged the utensil towards my mouth and insisted I have a taste. Wow! The eggplant had an unexpected crunch to it. The creamy cheese and the sweet tomato sauce complimented the eggplant perfectly. The dish was masterfully created to ensure a blended experience for the palette.

As my main course, I had chosen the salmon Alfredo. I know Alfredo is full of artery clogging ingredients, but everyone has to go someday, right? When I do, I want to die happy! I also have horrible childhood memories of eating spaghetti with tomato sauce. I grew up in a generation that believed in the "Clean Plate Club." However, due to my inability to eat  anything other than bird sized portions...I never became a member. I remember being forced on numerous occasions by a friend's parent, to sit at their dinner table well after everyone else was excused in order to finish my spaghetti. The torture would continue until I consumed every ounce of spaghetti, or faked it by feeding it to the dog when no one was looking. Boy, that dog always loved when I came to visit! I still believe to this day that in the late 70's, I was the only kid on the planet never wanting to eat dinner out. So, as a result of my traumatic experiences with tomato sauce, I usually order white sauce on my pasta.

Now that you are aware of the background, let's return to the salmon Alfredo...

My meal included a hearty portion of salmon and steamed vegetables atop a mountain of penne. The salmon was grilled to perfection with a moist center. The sauce was surprisingly light with a subtle herbal flavor. I loved bite after bite!

As dinner began to wind down, Brad cheerfully reappeared and began rattling off Chef Simmons array of decadent desserts. My mouth began to water and panic began to set in. Panic, over which dessert to choose. My C.P.A. chefy hubby knew exactly which one he desired...Tiramisu. A battle brewed in my head between the creme brulee and key lime pie. Creme brulee was victorious. Dessert was absolutely orgasmic and solidified Mangia's as one of my favorite places to dine in Orlando!

Mangia's Italian Bistro is located at 10065 University Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32817. 

For more information, visit their website at www.mangiaorlando.com.

Thank you Maureen, Mark and Brad for an ambrosial dining experience!
Mangia! Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon

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