Mangiami is a small Italian restaurant on Stanton Street, one that oozes the calculated cool of so many of its Lower East Side neighbors without quite so much of the ego. I stopped by with a friend last week to see how their small plates held up to those of surrounding restaurants.
We started with a few of the bruschetta selections—the Eggplant and Goat Cheese, Ricotta Salata and Sundried Tomato Pesto, and Marinated Mushroom and Prosciutto Crudo. Each order, $3, gets you one piece of bruschetta, fine for splitting two or maybe even three ways—much more than that, and you may want to double up.
The eggplant bruschetta was tasty if a little bland, while the sundried tomato was more flavorful but still uninspired, with the sundried tomato overwhelming the cheese. The mushroom-prosciutto combination was my favorite by far—a little salty, but by that point I needed it to wake up my palate. Adding to the blandness of these bruschetta was the small side salad that each piece came with, dressed in nothing but olive oil. All it needed was a splash of vinegar or squirt of lemon juice.
The next dish we tried, asparagus wrapped with prosciutto crudo and fontina ($11), was a salty cheese bomb disguised as a vegetable appetizer. This was much more flavorful than the bruschetta, and the asparagus was nicely browned from roasting. But for $11, and served with the same side salad "dressed" with straight olive oil, this didn't feel like a great deal—nor did it feel like a particularly good example of the pork-wrapped vegetable food group.
We finished up with a salad from the specials board, Sweet Coppa with Apple, Spinach and Raisins ($10). Thankfully, this salad was dressed with an actual vinaigrette, and the sweet coppa was complemented by the spinach and the apples. The slabs of thinly sliced Parmesan didn't hurt things either. The raisins were a bit perplexing—not sure why the salad needed apples and raisins—but they didn't ruin the dish by any means.
Nothing that we ate at Mangiami was jaw-droppingly delicious. The prices were fair for the most part, and we ended up spending exactly $30 between the two of us before tax and tip, hitting our target price right on the head. If I was just looking for a snack while I enjoyed a glass of wine at the bar I wouldn't have been disappointed in Mangiami. But if you're looking to cobble together a whole meal of appetizers and small plates in the neighborhood, there are other options--Alias and Little Giant both come to mind.
9 Stanton Street, New York NY 10002 (map) 212-477-7047
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