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PostHeaderIcon Mangia Mi: No Brad Pitt but Lots More

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We won’t lie. We were spurred to try Mangia Mi because we had heard Brad Pitt had dined at the downtown Danville eatery while in the East Bay filming some scenes for the "Moneyball" movie. But we had also heard that owner and chef Peter Cedolini makes the pasta sauces using his grandmother’s old-country recipes. One or the other had to be true, so we headed there on a rainy Sunday. Many people had the same idea.


There was a steady stream of diners in the quaint restaurant tucked off Hartz Avenue. High-back chrome chairs line a bar that overlooks an expedition kitchen, and cooks gave us welcoming smiles as we sat down at a table with cozy bench seating.

Manager Jenny True told us we wouldn’t want to pass up the brushetta, oven–roasted tomatoes over garlic-rubbed crostini with balsamic vinaigrette, basil and parmesan. The three large crostinis ($11) are the perfect amount of food to whet the appetite but not overstuff you before you dig into the salads and main entrees.


Two other antipasti that stand out are the olive marinate, house cured and marinated imported Italian olives ($8) and the Assaggi di Salumi e Formaggi, a plate of mixed artisan salami and cheese for two ($16). If you are looking for a very healthy, low-calorie meal, try the Italian Chopped Salad ($11) made with chopped iceberg and romaine lettuce with fresh mozzarella, garbanzo beans, salami, tossed in a champagne vinaigrette then topped with basil and cherry tomatoes. To cut some fat, you can skip the salami and add chicken for $5 or shrimp for $6. Insalata della Casa, an iceberg wedge with gorgonzola dolce, caramelized onions pan-roasted pancetta, and topped with gorgonzola dressing was another (not low-cal) favorite.

The Caesar salad with romaine hearts and homemade Caeser dressing (just the right amount of garlic) and shaved parmesan ($10) is authentic and delicious. Between our salads and our entrees we asked about Brad Pitt.
 
Our server, who works six nights a week, swore she’d never seen Pitt in the restaurant, but she too had heard the rumors that he was... there. Well, if he wasn’t, he missed out. For lunch, there are paninis, rustic Italian sandwiches pressed hot, as well as pizzas, pastas, and tramezzinos, rustic Italian sandwiches served cold. The types of paninis include meatball, prosciutto, wild mushroom, grilled chicken, Italian sausage and vegetable ($10-$12). On a rainy Sunday, the grilled chicken with pesto, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella was stringing and delicious. Every bite was different, and that was a good thing.

We didn’t try the Tramezzionos, but there are three to chose from: the Tonno, a tuna salad sandwich with capers, tomato, dill and romaine lettuce; the Salami with pepperoncini, provolone, Dijon mustard, and arugula; and the Pollo with chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado, and provolone. All are served on a fresh bagette ($11 and $12).
 
Since it wasn’t looking like we were going to learn about any more about Pitt, we inquired about the house-made pasta sauces. Cedolini wasn't in the restaurant the day we visited, but we learned a little about him and his culinary background on the website.
 "I spent almost every Sunday enjoying the richness of family and the delicious cuisine of the "old country." My nana would spend all day cooking, and one by one everyone would end up in the kitchen. Often, neighbors would smell the aroma of our Italian food and the next thing you know, they would join the festivities. There was always a houseful of people and enough food and wine to feed anyone who might drop by,'' he wrote on the site.

If you want to try some of nana's bolognese, marinara, alfredo, pesto or gorgonzola cream sauces pair it with penne or spaghetti and add meatballs or sausage if you wish. There’s also Maccheroni con Formaggio e Pangrattato, noodles baked with cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan, then broiled with seasoned breadcrumbs; meat or ricotta and spinach ravioli; Lasagne di Carne, fresh pasta with bolognese sauce, bechamel, and mozzarella; and Lasagne di Verdura, fresh pasta with marinara, béchamel, mozzarella and fresh seasonal vegetables. People also rave about the Gnocchi, fourteen hand-rolled potato dumplings, and the pasta con Vongole, which is pasta with fresh clams, white wine, garlic and pepper flakes. ($13 to $17) with $4 for meatballs or sausage added.

Still hungry? Try one of the "secondi," which include: Pepperoni Farcito, bell pepper stuffed with rice, ground beef, breadcrumbs, and cheese; Salsiccia e Pepperoni, grilled Calabrese sausage, caramelized bell peppers and onions; Melanzana Parmigiani, breaded eggplant, marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan; Polpettone, homemade meatloaf just like Nonna made it or Pollo alla Griglia, grilled breast of chicken marinated in rosemary, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil (a very low-calorie option for those watching their diets).

There's also Pollo Parmigiana, baked chicken coated with seasoned breadcrumbs and covered with marinara and mozzarella; Gamberi di Arancia alla Griglia, grilled shrimp marinated with a citrus and shallot reduction; Filetto alla Griglia con Pesto, grilled filet mignon, marinated in pesto and topped with roasted tomatoes; or Pesce del Giorno, the fresh fish of the day. The dishes range from $11 to $19 with the fish priced at market price. We didn’t get a chance to try the Spinci Saltati, sautéed spinach with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, but we’ve heard it’s out of this word. Brad Pitt might even like it.

Mangia Mi has a nice selection of beer and wine and is open for lunch Thursday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. The restaurant is closed Mondays. Mangia Mi is located at 406 Hartz Ave. in Danville. For reservations for parties of 8 or more, call 925-831-3276. --KB

Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2011 01:38)

 

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