Thursday, June 21, 2007

Secret of success in the sauce at Mangia e Bevi

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Tom Fedor⁄The Gazette
Carpaccio di Manzo — sliced filet mignon topped with arugula, shaved parmigiano cheese and extra virgin olive oil — at Mangia e Bevi Italian Restaurant in Urbana.
‘‘Eat, drink and be merry,” is a famous quote from Ecclesiastes, and can also be applied to a wonderful new restaurant in Urbana, Mangia e Bevi.

This is not only for the name, which, translated, means eat and drink, but also for the merry feeling you have once you have dined there.

Granted, some of the merry you have to supply, but the rest comes from excellent food, friendly staff and Tuscan décor.

Mangia e Bevi is located off Md. Routes 80 and 355 in the Turning Point Center (behind the now closed Turning Point Inn.) Advertised as a Pizzeria Ristorante Italiano, it is truly a fine Italian restaurant serving delicious pizza.

Quiet shades of cinnamon and honey (my interpretation), black wrought iron accents, large windows, and an open ceiling with high windows, make this a bright and cheery eating establishment.

In warm weather, outdoor seating is available on a pretty overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain. The larger dining room also affords much the same view.

Modern technology and old world expertise, courtesy of owners Vito Cinquepalmi and Nick Pinto, have combined to present Frederick County with a great new dining experience. Native Italians, Nick and Vito opened the restaurant in February 2007.

Their wives are friends from childhood in Italy, and when the couples visited, the men conceived the idea of a restaurant.

Vito, a culinary school graduate, owned a restaurant in New York, while Nick was a computer specialist for Lockheed Martin. They pooled their experiences to open Mangia e Bevi.

Antipasto (appetizers), Le Insalate (fresh salads), Contorni (side dishes), Secondi (entrees) and of course, pasta dishes are on the extensive and well-rounded menu.

Steak, lamb, seafood, veal, beef and pork entrees give the diner great choices along with almost every pasta dish known to man. Substitutions, if feasible, were not a problem.

Our group of four was seated at one of the attractive rough-hewn tables in the main dining area.

Accompanying our beverages was a basket of fresh, crusty Italian bread, served with butter, dipping oil and grated cheese. We had to remind ourselves that we were going to be eating a meal as we requested another basket of bread, but that one also seemed to disappear rather quickly.

Entrees are priced for lunch or dinner. Salads and sides are a la carte. Menu items are written in Italian with a clearly translated description for each.

Pollo Parmigiana ($13), Gnocchi Sorrentina ($14), Polo Marsala ($13) and Filetto di Pesce (orange roughy for $19) completed our entrée selections.

Our food was served piping hot with generous portions.

My husband and a friend remarked that the spaghetti sauce was excellent and just a little different.

When I later talked to Vito and Nick, they told me the secret — well, not the whole secret, I am sure. They add vegetables to the sauce and only use tomatoes from Italy. And, instead of putting the spaghetti on the plate with the sauce on top, they sauté the pasta and sauce together. Delizioso!

Nick and Vito further added that they do not take anything from jars.

‘‘We like to keep things simple, we cook like we do at home, and our recipes are from Puglia, a region at the top of the heel of Italy,” they commented.

The green vegetable served with my entrée had me puzzled. I could not identify the taste. So, I asked. It was escarole sautéed with garlic and rosemary. I have had escarole in a salad, but never served as a vegetable. I must say it was different and tasty.

Nick is the ‘‘pizzaialo” or pizza man. The menu lists Pizza A Modo Mio, or Pizza My Way. He makes 14 or 18-inch pizzas with every imaginable topping. Panzerotti (calzones), panini, and heros are available all day Monday through Thursday and for lunch only Friday and Saturday.

Lunch specials ($7.99) are served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and include pizza, stromboli, heros, and several pasta dishes.

A garden salad or bruschetta al pomodoro (with tomato sauce) and a fountain soda or fresh brewed iced tea accompany the lunches.

A wonderful bambini (kids) menu is available. We have the restaurant on the list for our grandchildren’s next visit.

La Dolce Vita (desserts) are sure to please any nationality. In addition to the traditional Tiramisu, Gelato and Cannoli, are three unique offerings.

Profiteroles are puff pastry filled with vanilla ice cream and covered in chocolate sauce. Torta de Ricotta is a dessert of classic Italian cheesecake made with real ricotta cheese and drizzled with raspberry sauce. How about trying Bomba Gelato? A chocolate ice cream truffle is filled with a delicate white cream and topped with hazelnuts

Specials are available from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.

On Monday, carryout customers can buy one large pizza and get another, of equal or lesser value, at half price.

If dining in, Tuesdays offer buy one pasta entrée and get another, of equal or lesser value, for half price, while Wednesday offers a glass of wine for $1 to those purchasing an entree.

Nick and Vito said they like to make simple foods, but I would say they make simply great food at reasonable prices.

Now my secret — I have been back twice for dinner. And, yes, I sampled the desserts!

Buon Appetito!

Mangia e BeviRistorante Italiano

8927 Fingerboard Road



11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

12-9 p.m. Sunday

Visa, MasterCard and American Express


Handicapped accessible

Reservations accepted