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Kenosha WI: Mediocre Meal at Mantuano's Mangia

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Kenosha WI: Mediocre Meal at Mantuano's Mangia

Chicago Mike | Dec 20, 2004 02:09 PM

With great expectations we dined at Mangia in Kenosha last week... it was overall quite a disappointment.

First off the place was written up in the Milwaukee newspaper as "the best restaurant between Chicago and Milwaukee", with a glowing food editor's review. Here's our experience:

1) The place is nicely floorplanned. Not too light, not too dark decor... sort of an orangish dark tan tone prevails so there's a sense of privacy even with alot of diners in the room... a big plus.

2) For apertif had a half bottle of their Moscato d'Asti. For appetizers had the Zambuca shrimp and the grilled calamari with one glass of chardonnay for my guest and orvieto for me.

The Moscato was somewhat "flat" without much "frizzante" to it. I didn't check the vintage but it was out of the fridge so I presume a reasonably fresh bottle. But quite fruity and flavorful. We were served a nice bread basket and an interesting garbanzo spread that we both liked.

The grilled calamari was a downer. Very smoky, a small portion, and annoyingly chewy. Probably needed another minute of cooking at least, as did other items this evening. Even with the cooking the heavy smoke didn't do anything for this.

The Zambuca Shrimp was heralded in the writeup. But we found it fairly bland. The shrimp were fresh and tasty, but the preparation did little to improve them. So that's two appetizers, two disappointments. The house chardonnay was fine, as was the orvieto and reasonably priced at $6 for a very full glass.

3) For entree we split an order of the evening Tuna special. 7oz of tuna grilled with some spinach on the side. This dish was just served way too cold. There was a sear around the side and the majority of the center was essentially uncooked, just room temperature raw. The good news is that this was a great way to judge the quality of the tuna, which we both agreed appeared to be superb sushi quality. After a few bites we plated it up and sent it back for more cooking. It returned a nice medium throughout. However this was just plain grilled tuna. no sauce, no marinade, no herbs. Very nice if you like plain grilled tuna.

4) The pasta was a farfalle in a cream sauce with prosciutto etc. from the main menu. This was just delicious. We ordered a half portion which was well enough for 2 or 3 persons! Just delicious and easily the highlight of the meal. It leaves me wondering if pasta isn't the strength of this restaurant. From our experience it is and we'd recommend sticking to it if you dine here.

5) Dessert. We ordered 3 scoops of gelato. Again a disappointment. Neither taste or texture would have me ranking this anywhere near great gelato.

Service was attentive and friendly. A great staff.

At something like $130 fully loaded, there was ample food and wine but really only the half order of pasta was memorable. I'd definitely recommend sharing a couple entrees and you could probably get in and out of here for, say, $35 or so each person with tax and tip including a couple glasses of house wine each. This would be much more in keeping with the proper value range, in my opinion. As for being a major destination worth the $65-75 pp category, based on our experience I don't think so.

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