"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Restaurant Review: Manganaro's Grosseria & Ristorante

It's avoided, it's despised, it's negatively reviewed and I LOVE it! Manganaro's Grosseria & Ristorante (not to be confused with Manganaro's Hero Boy next door) has been lauded on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and ripped to pieces in negative reviews. The negative reviews are completely independent of the food which is down right delicious. The negative reviews are entirely due to the two, rather aggressive, but colorful, short-tempered Italian women behind the counter. They are quick to yell, ask customers to leave before they even order and bite your head off if you try to photograph their food for a blog! Gasp! I was there to do just that! Well, it was our lucky rainy Saturday. We went to the restaurant in Hell's Kitchen and the first thing one of the women behind the counter said was "I don't know what's wrong but I'm feeling really nice today!"
Manganaro's is simple, old-school Italian cooking. With recipes that have stayed the same since 1893 when it first opened, this family-operated joint is doesn't mess around. The food is served on styrofoam plates and the tomato marinara is made in the morning. I went with two friends and we strategically ordered different items. The super star dish was the Manganaro Special (pictured above); a sandwich made from mixed meats, cheese and peppers. Drizzles with a little balsamic and served on some rustic Italian bread, this sandwich was divine.

The runner up for best dish was plate of meatballs and one riceball (pictured below). Served with a generous amount of marinara the meatballs were succulent and superb, all  while be comforting. The riceball was unlike anything I have ever had! It was some sort of risotto riceball that was creamy and slightly crunchy on the outside, deep-fried Sicilian style. It was about the size of a wiffle ball. A bite of meatball, riceball and marinara is like a party in your mouth.

Their marinara was really superb. I've never had anything so flavorful like it. It is not oily at all but fresh and chunky. We got an extra bowl of the marinara to dip our sandwiches in. It was heavenly.

We also got a plate of lasagna that would have sent me back to my childhood had lasagna been a food of my childhood.

And as a treat the lovely women behind the counter gave us a plate of tasty, toasty and crunchy sesame seeds cookies. In addition, they also gave us a shot of their special Korean tequila!

In summation, go for the food, stay for the experience and....well, leave when they start giving you a hard time. I can't wait to go back and order another Manganaro Special with a side of meatballs, a riceball, and some cookies.

Manganaro's Grosseria & Ristorante
488 Ninth Avenue (between 37th and 38th)
New York, NY 10018

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