Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mamma Mano! Decadent dishes at Ristorante A Mano!

A couple weeks ago, some friends and I went for a much anticipated meal at Restaurante A Mano. I had been to this spot during its first year, and had made many attempts to go since, but it never quite worked out.

On my first experience, I had rich risotto balls in a smokey tomato sauce and an equally indulgent pizza of tomato, brie and pecans. These sinful toppings, served on a crispy homemade crust, were my idea of heaven…That was until I tried A Mano’s fluffy, cloud-like pillows of gnocchi.

My friends and I started the evening by sharing an order of calamari. Tossed in a light, crisp batter, these were devoured just as quickly as a bowl of popcorn. The garlic aioli on the side was just slightly sweet and so good that we asked for another helping.

One of my friends decided on a pizza after my own heart. A fellow olive-lover, she created her own pizza with kalamata olives, spicy pepperoni and mushrooms. In one bite, there was an explosion of flavor: salty, spicy, earthy, and ooey-gooey - that's the cheese! These flavours came together to create the perfect pizza bite. I filed that order in the back of my brain for the next visit – then, it’s ‘zaa' all the way.

Meanwhile, my other friend ordered the lamb pasta. A simple but rich dish of lamb-filled pasta, topped with a sage-brown butter sauce. This dish was fantastic, as I knew it would be. The tender meat enclosed within the al dente pasta was lovely. My only complaint here was that the entrĂ©e portion, though rich, looked and filled like an appy moreso than a main. Now, I’m all about not over-indulging in pasta, and I do believe in “less is more”, however, I did think the serving was a bit stingy... Just sayin’!

I on the other hand, went with the gnocchi. Our group had the very good fortune of counting our server among the best of friends who counselled me several weeks before, that "You have to try the gnocchi”. Armed with that passion in mind, I decided on the basic peparation of the dish, trusting the resto to provide the best in simplicity. My gnocchi was served in a light tomato sauce, with a generous dollop of creamy ricotta cheese and a mound of spicy arugula.

Oddly enough, for a group of people who don’t tend to go the way of the sweet tooth after a filling savory meal, we decided to split dessert between the three of us. Again, on the urging of our server, we decided on the Nutella crepes topped with vanilla gelato, chocolate sauce and chocolate covered nuts. A great sharing dessert, there was plenty for three people. And to top it all off, a foamy cappuccino was the perfect ending to our Italian outing.

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