16 September 2009

First Restaurant Review

One of my great passions in life is supporting small businesses! My greatest dream in life is to be a successful small business owner myself (really, since I was not even ten years old!) I am in-tune with the start-up trials and tribulations, the fear involved, the courage one must muster, the passion needed to succeed, the deep well of energy you must have, and so on and so forth. I am charmed by each new business that I visit. I find myself trying to imagine exactly the vision of the owner. Looking for every little piece they have done so very right in their execution of that vision. Then looking for places they can improve, not because I want to find flaws but more as an exercise to hone my own business creating skills. Finally, I always try to search out some small treasure that will fit into my budget as a token of my appreciation that they took the chance to follow their dreams.

A recent lack of budget, well actually complete non-existence really, has slowed my ability to support small business. However, on a recent weekday I was the lucky guest at a luncheon date with my mother! We visited a new little restaurant here in my home town called "Mangia! Mangia!" And so I got the idea to start reviewing restaurants as part of my call to support small business and expand my blog topics! Here is my first restaurant review! (What fun now I can be my own food critic!)

Mangia! Mangia!

Who: Not sure who took the chance, but I may find out in the future.
What: Little Italian Place
When: Lunch and Dinner
Where: Just off of the main drag in Woodland Park, CO. (Behind Pizza Hut.)

*Note: In the future I will improve my information gathering skills!

Review: Mom and I decided on Italian as a last minute choice at lunch one day and she suggested the new little Italian place in town. It is called "Mangia! Mangia!" So we drove down to the place and went in for a little luncheon break. We were greeted and seated right away, in a little side booth, though they are small they have several booths along the side of the restaurant and a gaggle of table in the center (as the building was originally an Arby's it is rather difficult to change the setting inside.)

The waitress was prompt and friendly. We only asked for water, though I overheard an odd conversation regarding one of their fountain drink offerings (which piqued my curiosity.) I wished that the waitress would have given us the information on the specials and soups, but she chose not to - perhaps because they are written on a cute little chalkboard on the wall.

We decided on spaghetti and meatballs. This was prompted, I think by the fact that there are a number of lunch offerings, but only three that are not sandwiches (as I recall.) The meal is accompanied by a house salad and garlic bread. First, we received our salads. Which were a pleasant surprise. They were most enjoyable with mixed greens, red onion, an artichoke quarter, grape tomatoes...I need to take notes...and a very tasty vinaigrette (not too much thankfully!) Then came the entree. The entree, I believe, was a lunch portion (which makes sense.) It was pretty standard spaghetti and meatballs. Though, the sauce is chalk full of Italian Sausage slices. For me the sausage was different - but very welcome, as there was, in fact, only one, single meatball in their "spaghetti and meatballs." Should have been labeled as "spaghetti and meatball." The sauce had a nice home cooked and satisfying taste - very good tomato flavor. The only complaint I had was that the noodles were too wet for my pallet; I find it frustrating when my sauce is diluted by soggy noodles. The garlic bread was, well, garlic bread. Good for cleaning up left over sauce bits in your spaghetti bowl. Finally, we skipped dessert (trying to be good girls!) But I asked to see a menu to glance at the dinner offerings and desserts (sorry no cannolis - my favorite. But for my husband - tiramisu!)

Overall, it was a satisfying experience. And it is really great to have an Italian offering in our town. I say, if you are in town and have a taste for a little Italian flavor give Mangia! Mangia! a try. The dinner menu looks tempting. Perhaps, I will drag my dear husband in for an evening meal here at some point. Then I will report back here! Ciao!

My Thoughts/Suggestions:

*Enjoyed cute decorations that help to cover Arby's feel. The grapes are a good touch!
*Could work on increasing intimacy of the space - perhaps room screens could be employed.
*Liked the open kitchen - seems like there is less to hide!
*Needs music for ambiance (and to mask refrigerator noise!)
*Would love to see waitress slightly more professionally dressed. (Vintage would add flair and ambiance! *wink*)
*The place was clean, but I thought it could have used a slightly more thorough scrubbing in some areas! But I am PICKY!
*Liked the rose scented soap in the bathroom!