Food Review – Mangia, Mangia of Lichfield
By Jono Oates
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I do love my Italian food and although I’m a big fan of pizzas I’m equally fond of pasta, so I was really keen to try out some classic Italian cuisine, with a home-delivery service from the team at Mangia Mangia. Mangia Mangia – meaning ‘Eat Up! Eat Up!’ in Italian – is a home-based food company providing freshly cooked pasta and desserts, all prepared in the traditional Italian way, with authentic recipes packed with fresh ingredients and cooked with loving care.
The company is run by Alison and Francesco, from their family home in Lichfield, and many of the recipes have been handed down to Francesco by his mother. The couple put their meals together ready for delivery on a Friday to homes within the WS13 and WS14 postcodes. The meals are delivered straight to your door and it is simply a case of heating them up in the oven, or microwave, and – pronto presto – you are soon sitting down to enjoy top quality, restaurant-standard Italian cuisine in the comfort of your own home – bellissimo!
You can order all of the dishes online at: www.mangia-mangia.co.uk, but bookings have to be made by the Wednesday before the Friday delivery. You just add your selected dishes, mains, extras and desserts to your online shopping trolley, place the order and pay, and then you can sit back and relax and wait for your order to be delivered, all ready for the weekend!
You can choose from a variety of lasagnas or cannelloni as a main dish, with several focacce and salads to complement the main, and a selection of tiramisu and a crostata for a dessert. I ordered when the temperatures outside were dropping, as were the leaves on the trees, so I opted for two autumnal choices from the menu. I chose the Lasagna Zucca as my main, which was the current Special on the website, zucca being the Italian for pumpkin, so a perfect choice for Halloween weekend! Squares of pumpkin, butternut squash, gorgonzola cheese and a cluster of walnuts, all enclosed by layers of fresh pasta and bechamel sauce. I also added an optional extra of speck, an Italian cured meat, a type of prosciutto and originating from the mountains of the South Tyrol. To accompany that I chose another menu special, the Salad Autunno, which had a base of baby spinach leaves and then the same combination of butternut squash and pumpkin, pancetta, walnuts and some cubed ciabatta croutons, along with a balsamic vinegar / extra virgin olive oil dressing to sprinkle over the top. Finally, to finish my trio of Italian main course delights, I selected two focacce from the list, a Barese topped with olives and baby tomatoes, and a Rosmarino, topped with fresh rosemary sprigs and olive oil. Although that seemed to be a very satisfying, and filling, selection I could not resist glancing over the dessert menu and the Ricotta and Dark Chocolate Crostata definitely caught my eye, especially as I noticed it was chef Francesco’s favourite!
Order placed, I now waited impatiently for my order to arrive on Friday, and I chose a time of 5.30pm for delivery. So I was delighted to hear my door bell ‘bing-bong’ at precisely 5.30pm and I was delighted to be met at the door by a large carrier bag of Italian tasty treats and the smiling face of Alison! She explained that she and Francesco had set their business up from home, to try and bring fresh, quality, homemade Italian food to the people of Lichfield without the expense of restaurant prices, or for those who just prefer to eat at home. They are looking to expand in the future, to increase the number of days they can deliver and with more menu options. She wished me a ‘buon appetito’ and was on her way to her next lucky delivery recipient.
The dishes are all clearly labelled and include information about cooking guidelines, allergy advice and ingredients. The dishes are microwavable but I placed the lasagna in to the oven and heated it for about 30 minutes under a moderate heat and then popped the two focacce slices in to the oven for the last 5 minutes. Adding the autumnal salad to my plate I poured myself a large glass of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and settled down to enjoy my meal.
The lasagna was delightful, the pasta and sauce were creamy and light, and the walnut provided some nice crunch to the smooth textures of the butternut and pumpkin. Although it works really well as a vegetarian option, I must admit that the smoky speck meat gave it a bit of a kick, it tastes a bit like chorizo which, again, I love, especially on pizza! The lasagna was just so easy to eat, and I must admit I had quickly demolished half of it before turning my attention to the focacce and salad! The barese focaccia, originating from the city of Bari in the Puglia region of Italy, was superb, with the slightly salty olives (not everyone’s favourite I know, a bit Marmite, but gosh how I love them!) combining perfectly with the sweet little tomatoes, and the Rosmarino, another Puglia favourite, provided a stronger, more pungent, flavour to the mix, but was not overpowering. The salad was so, so fresh, and was crunchy, sweet and sour with the balsamic vinegar giving a piquant edge to the flavour, and the ciabatta croutons were so crisp and toasty, I always associate croutons with soup, but they worked perfectly with my autumnal soup!
Although it was a hearty meal, I was still more than ready for my dessert, the Ricotta and Dark Chocolate Crostata. The crostata is another classic Italian dish, basically it is an open pie, and can be served either as a savoury, or sweet, dish. This dessert version was a very indulgent treat, the creamy ricotta cheese whey was the perfect complement to the rich, dark chocolate that ran through it, and the pastry lattice work over the top of the pie was light and delicate.
As a lover of Italian food this was truly a gastronomic feast that transported me to the beautiful, sunny warm, olive trees of Italy and the friendly, welcoming ristorantes that provide home-cooked pasta dishes with recipes that are passed down from generation-to-generation.
As I mentioned at the start Mangia Mangia means ‘Eat Up, Eat Up!’ and I definitely didn’t need telling twice to enjoy the wonderful tastes, flavours and spices of this local family business that is providing traditional Italian food, cooked in the traditional Italian way, to the people of Lichfield.