If you have been following along this Bronx Little Italy food journey, thank you. If this is the first you are reading of it, thank you. Either way, please enjoy this last installation and, in advance, you are welcome!
After a full day of walking, eating, cooking and taking in the magic of Arthur Avenue, we landed at the first authentic fast casual pasta restaurant in the area, Mangi Pasta (@MangiPasta, 608 East 187th Street, 718.933.0100, mangipasta.com). Just walking in the space and peeking into the open kitchen, I knew we were in for a treat.
Chef-owner Aurora Cerrato opened this space to present her Italian heritage and her passion for the food of her country. She is proud of not having a freezer on premises as it keeps her and her team honest and on their game.
Open only six months, the menu is fresh and simple. Choose from eight pastas or a ravioli of the day, all made fresh in the morning or the night before. We are talking authentic Italian ingredients from Italy to make dishes found in the country. Cerrato says, “If you are looking for Alfredo sauce, you will not find it here. It is not Italian!”
Cerrato seemed not to care we had full bellies. Her plan for us was three courses of pasta plus dessert and wine. I thought there was no way I would make it through, but I threw some water on my face and loosened my belt.
Her first course is my absolute favorite, linguine cacio e pepe. This dish is simply pasta, cheese and black pepper. However, it takes a deft hand to combine them and make it sing. Chef Cerrato did just that. You can taste the freshness of all the ingredients. On top of this she paired a gorgeous Italian white wine made from Pecorino grapes from the Abruzzo region. Going to add a bottle or to my cellar.
Our second course was a simple but lush pesto rigatoni. Packed with flavor, this verdant sauce was unctuous with fruity Italian olive oil and almost spicy from fresh basil. By this time, I am already packing my doggie bag for later because I want to enjoy this when I am hungry.
Our final course of Mangi Pasta cheese ravioli amatriciana, a spicy tomato-based sauce with guanciale (pork jowl) was beautifully presented and tasted even better. Served with an Italian red wine, this dish too would go in the bag for later.
Phew, we made it through! That is until chef put freshly made tiramisu on the table. I simply shook my head, “BASTA!” (stop), but one bite would not hurt. It did and so good. It was light, flavorful and the perfect “la dolce vita” ending to the day in Bronx Little Italy.
Grazie mille a tutti i ristoranti, negozi, chef e persone di Arthur Avenue e Bronx Little Italy! Fino alla prossima volta!
So the next time you need to be immersed in Italian culture, history and food, head to the Bronx and tell them I sent you. See you there!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!