When you visit an Italian restaurant, it is often the case that the same, cookie-cutter menu is in place – pastas, pizzas and a few “original” antipasti. The opposite is true of Mancini Modern Italian in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Restaurateur Jack Mancini has done it again with this contemporary Italian spot.
Located on East Las Olas Boulevard, Mancini Modern Italian is warm and inviting, with a chic décor and illuminated indoor-outdoor bar area. As far as the food, when creating a dish, fresh and local ingredients constantly inspire executive Chef Claudio Sandri.
Sandri worked alongside celebrity chef Roberto Donna for more than eight years at the acclaimed Galileo restaurant in Washington D.C. before working at the previous Mancini restaurant in Las Olas. Did I mention he and chef Donna were on an episode of Food Network’s “Iron Chef” and the duo reigned supreme against esteemed chef Masaharu Morimoto? Impressive. Very impressive.
When explaining the vision for Mancini Modern Italian, chef Sandri says:
“Although the restaurant specializes in authentic Italian cuisine, we’re trying to take another road and see how to change it a little bit – whether it’s the plating, the presentation or something else,” he said.
While on the topic of the not-so-standard Italian restaurant, Mancini Modern Italian offers hand-pulled mozzarella, freshly made tableside, served alongside a thick fig and balsamic vinegar jam.
A crudo bar is something else that is unique about Mancini Modern Italian. Chef Sandri makes an insanely fresh lobster carpaccio that is absolutely spectacular. Sweet, spiny lobster is served with lemon olive oil and tomalley vinaigrette. It puts some sushi restaurants I’ve been to to shame.
Piggybacking on the seafood menu is the stuffed squid al forno, served atop cannellini beans and smoked tomato. The stuffing inside the squid consists of risotto and sopressata and tastes like and Italian version of Spanish paella.
One of the only things I wasn’t a big fan of on the menu was the osso bucco. I felt the meat was a bit fatty for my taste and it was lacking some flavor. The meat was served on top of mashed potatoes and this was the highlight of the dish. The creamy, buttery potatoes really did it for me.
If I had to choose a favorite dish from this restaurant, I would pick the agnolotti without a doubt. The handcrafted pasta is made fresh, stuffed with spice-roasted butternut squash and topped with sweet amaretti crumbs. But wait, there’s more. The agnolotti are accompanied by braised lamb shoulder and wilted arugula, all topped off with a crispy sage leaf. This dish tastes like Thanksgiving on a plate and I was absolutely blown away by the marriage of all the flavors.
For dessert, the chocolata salato is a must-have. Semi-sweet chocolate ganache is sprinkled with black lava salt for a whimsical taste of sweet and salty that is unlike any other dessert out there.
The service at Mancini Modern Italian is also excellent, with a knowledgeable staff able to recommend the perfect wine pairing or even share some information about the ingredients that give life to the dishes.
Authentic dishes, fresh ingredients and impeccable service – what more can you want from a restaurant?
Mancini Modern Italian is located on 401 East Las Olas Boulevard and is open for lunch and dinner.