Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mani Osteria

There are many Italian restaurants that I love, but very few that I would be willing to take my Italian-heritage friends to. After all, the ones who gag at the mention of Olive Garden could never appreciate Bravo's spaghetti and meatballs the way my less seasoned pallet could, correct?
Fortunately, a little gem called Mani Osteria popped in to solve this predicament for me. Located on the corner of East Liberty and Division, this restaurant brings fine dining to students and professionals alike at a fraction of the cost, focusing on wood-fired pizzas and light tapas at affordable prices (but they don't skimp on the quality!).

I met this incredibly fashionable duo there for dinner on Friday night.

Introducing the lovely Lisa of Leopard Shoes Blog fresh out of her internship with Bloomingdales in New York, and the equally lovely Eammon who happened to have a summer blog during his frolickings in France. Are you as jealous of them as I am?

As usual, Mani was packed, and their end-of-summer one-week-only menu was driving in an even bigger crowd than usual.

I also caught a quick snap of the man behind the magic, chef Brendan McCall. Since this restaurant features an open kitchen, customers can enjoy seeing how their dishes are being made. While plates and glasses are constantly flying out of the kitchen, all outgoing food must pass through McCall's inspection at this tiny metal partition, emphasizing this restaurant's attention to detail.

While we surveyed the new menu, we munched on these delicious crackers that came with a yummy dipping sauce.

Eventually, we decided to split one of Mani's most popular pizzas - the Farmers Market - and each choose a tapa of our own.
Eammon opted for the prosciutto and figs salad...

Lisa ordered a specialty gazpacho..

And I couldn't resist trying one of Mani's cold cut trays...

This dish featured crispy bread drizzled in olive oil and a delectable trio of prosciutto di parma, finocchiona, and coppa.

Our Farmer's Market pizza was next...

A light, summery and particularly unique combination of apricots, goat cheese, mint, red onion, and prosciutto.

Of course, since Mani makes such affordable and delicious tapas and pizzas, we couldn't resist treating ourselves to a little dessert..

Eammon and Lisa opted for espresso flavored gelato and an americano.

And it is my pleasure to present to the world, Mani's signature salted caramel s'more...

An ooey-gooey perfectly toasted marshmallow center sandwhiched by a chocolate chip graham cracker cookie. This dish is the definition of decadence.

After a satisfying, affordable and oh-so-tasty meal, my friends and I headed out for a stroll. After all, I had to exercise that meat tray off somehow, right?

Eammon and I also took the time to model our matching green skirt and pants combo. 

What can we say? We're just stylish that way.

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