Sherman's Food Adventures: Mangia e Bevi

Mangia e Bevi

Let's face it, there is only enough time to visit that many restaurants within a year or even two.  Unless your name is Mijune Pak, it is unlikely one has the time nor the budget to hit all of the good spots in town so quickly and so often.  Therefore, for me, Mangia e Bevi fits into the category of "I've seen this many times and wanted to try but never have".  Every time I go into West Van, I seem to see the place, become curious and then forget about it.  In fact, I've been to many of the spots around it, but never have made the effort to dine there.  Finally, it was time to try the place out with a willing partner in Emily.

Seeing how there was only 2 of us, it didn't stop us from making a dent into the menu beginning with Ravioli Ai Merluzzo E Pesto Bianco or deconstructed beet-infused ravioli with butter-poached black cod, red prawn and white pesto.  The thin and slightly soft pasta sheets were tender, yet still had a mild chew.  The flaky black cod was buttery (cooked just right) and well-seasoned, in particular the garlic content.  With a sweet snap, the shrimp added another appealing factor into the dish.  Next was the Carpaccio Cremoso featuring tender and thin slices of buttery beef drizzled with a creamy Parmesan truffle aioli and fried capers.  In the centre, we found delicious crispy Parmesan crostinis.  This dish was on point texturally and in terms of flavour, the truffle oil was muted enough that it didn't overwhelm.  Some parts were on the saltier side though.

Moving onto the pasta course, we were served both dishes on one sharing plate.  We got the idea of the concept, but it didn't bode well for pictures!  The first was Tagliolini Con Gamberetti with red prawns, tomato, fennel, arugula, pepperoncino and extra virgin olive oil.  The pasta was nicely al dente being firmly chewy.  Due to the pepperoncino, the sauce was spicy and continually elevated as we ate the pasta.  We enjoyed the mild salt content, but then again, the buttery shrimp were salty on their own.  To balance off the flavours, there was enough tang in the tomato sauce for an acidic brightness.  For our other pasta, we went creamy and rich with the Ravioli Ai Funghi Ai Salvia filled with mushrooms, mascarpone, ricotta, and white truffle oil  topped with sage-brown butter sauce.  Again, the pasta itself was al dente while the filling was creamy and light.  Flavours were predictable being chewy, Earthy and smoky buttery.

As if this wasn't enough food already, we moved onto 2 mains including the Anatra Due Modi featuring confit leg of duck with parsnip puree and roast duck breast with pine nuts and frangelico-orange sauce.  I found the brined duck breast to be tender and a bit salty.  The skin was a little fatty and somewhat crispy.  On the other hand, the leg was completely rendered with crispy skin.  However, the meat was somewhat dry, especially the parts near the surface. Loved the smooth parsnip puree while the orange sauce was sweet with a mild tang.  Our last savoury dish was the Rombo Amalfitano or potato-crusted halibut with limoncello-chive butter sauce.  The halibut was unfortunately dry, but still relatively ok.  The potato crust was crispy and well-browned, yet greasy.  Lightly sweet and tangy, the sauce went well with the fish, while the cheesy risotto was actually pretty good.  It did need more salt though.

For dessert, we shared the cliched dessert being the Tiramisu.  It looked decent and in the end was not bad.  The espresso-soaked ladyfingers were moist and flavourful while only being lightly sweet.  However, the marscapone cream was on the sweeter side and balanced out the ladyfingers.  For some reason, I wasn't that engaged with this dessert even though I've had my fair share of bad tiramisu (and this one wasn't bad).  Overall, the meal wasn't bad with a few bright spots.  However, considering the prices, I guess we were expecting more?

The Good:
- Effort was put into the food
- Wonderful service
- Classy ambiance

The Bad:
- Pricey
- A few execution issues (dry halibut, dry confit duck leg)

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