Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mannino's Italian Bistro - Virginia Beach

Mannino's Italian Bistro exterior sign
This really should be a review of The Street Cook, but they aren't open on Mondays. Monday night, two weeks ago, my husband and I sat in the parking lot looking forlornly at the hours on their front door. We had just left the Town Center area to come here and did not feel like fighting the insanity of holiday traffic on Independence to go back there again to eat. I remembered a friend of ours telling me about this great little Italian place near The Street Cook, so we called him up and asked for the name and directions. He had the directions and his wife provided the name. (They are a great team!)We headed off in search of Mannino's.

We drove right past it on the first go around. I can't blame the directions either, they were perfect. It's just that you would not expect any place of merit to be in such a haggard looking shopping strip. Pulling into the lot we had our doubts, but these guys highly recommended it, so we were game.

My initial feeling upon entering was one of pleasant surprise. I didn't expect the interior to appear contemporary or new. It was both. We were asked if we had reservations, which we did not. The place was 75% empty, and we were taken to the back room and seated along the wall among the row of tables. Take note, the seating is tight. You are very close to your neighboring diners. It didn't bother me, in fact we conversed with both tables on either side of us, however it would feel a bit intrusive if a romantic dinner was planned. Save classified conversations for elsewhere.

The person seating us or bringing us water, I cannot recall which, apologized in advance by telling us he had just double seated our server and it may take her a minute to get to us. Okay, I appreciate the heads up, but I'm not sure I agree with the presentation. Is that really how you want to start your relationship with a new customer? Hi, thanks for coming in and choosing to spend your hard earned dollars here, we already screwed up. Just saying....

We ordered cocktails and watched the restaurant rapidly fill. All the food was top notch. The Street Cook has a great clam appetizer that I had really wanted so we started with their Clams Posillipo with white wine sauce. It was excellent. There is just a hint of crushed red pepper which really ads to the dish. We were both in the mood for fish, and ordered evening specials of Flounder and Tilapia. The Flounder was ever so lightly battered and sautéed. The Tilapia was encrusted with homemade breadcrumbs. Typically, I steer away from "encursted" because usually that means a thick crust that overwhelms the fish. Not so here. This melted in your mouth. The side of the night was some sort of special broccoli, which I am sorry to say I really despise. We both opted for the sautéed baby spinach. It was a bit on the oily side, but very flavorful, and not at all overcooked. Since everything was so good, I went for the slam dunk and ordered their house made Tiramisu. I barely let my husband get a bite or two out of it. It was delicious. I had pondered the Cannoli, which a neighboring diner ordered. Apparently he had pondered the Tiramisu. We were both happy with our choices. The Cannoli looked good!

Merlot wine bottle at Mannino's Italian BistroManinno's runs a 10 for $10 wine special. They offer a variety of 10 wines for $10 and will cork what you don't drink so you can take it home. Wow, why doesn't every place do this? I'm sure it costs extra on their ABC license, but I would have to think more people would order bottles of wine if they knew they could go home with whatever wasn't consumed. And not just $10 wines either, but perhaps there is more to this legally than meets the eye. Regardless, we selected a Italian (of course) Merlot. We ordered this at the same time we placed our appetizer, and entree orders. We finished our appetizer and cocktails, had some down time, watched everyone around us get their wines, tried to get our server's attention, got our entrees from another server, watched more people get their wine, tried to get our server's attention, ate about half our meal and then I just could not stand it any more. Everyone in the place was toasting their meals. People who didn't even have FOOD yet had their wine. I mean, we just could not get anyone to SEE us. I saw someone shoot behind the bar and I made my move. I pleaded with him to have someone bring me our wine before I was finished eating. I am serious. I actually said, "I am begging you." I know the girl was busy, I can relate, but one of my rules back in the table waiting days was KEEP THEIR GLASSES FULL, especially if they contain alcohol. Not only does it raise your sale (and tip), but alcohol makes most people I know happy.

Yes, we finally got our wine, drank some there and took the rest home to finish later. The server never apologized, and I honestly don't think she was even aware of the issue. It wasn't a huge deal, and it didn't ruin the meal, but when I go there again, and I definitely will, I will be curious to see if the service misses were a one time glitch or a business trend.

Mannino's Italian Bistro
4402 Princess Anne Rd
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Monday - Thursday from 5 pm-10 pm
Friday & Saturday from 5 pm-11 pm

Watch out...they are closed on Sundays!!!
Mannino's Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon


SkippyMom said...

The food sounds delicous.

I don't see how double seating a waiter in an extremely busy restaurant is a fault of the restaurant. Happened all the time when I was a server and I think it was nice to get the heads up.

...the wine however, errrrr!

Laine and Alex said...

The food really was exceptional, and overall the service was just slow and spotty. Amazing what I will tolerate for good food:)

Karl said...

Most places have an off-premises liquor license or an on-premises license. You can get in big trouble, like lose your license, if you sell wine retail as a restaurant and vice versa. Secondly, most states, Florida for sure, Virginia probably, have open container laws for driving offenses. Again putting the license holders license at risk if any clients are caught and they claim that so and so it would be OK. FYI, the Florida Legislature recently passed a law allowing clients to take home an unfinished bottle of wine (called the "Merlot to go" law)but Alachua County still has ordinances on its books forbidding the practice under its open container laws.

Anyway, long answer to a quick aside.

Laine and Alex said...

You are right, VA does have an open container law, but the restaurant does "re-cork" it. I knew it had to be some complicated legal issue. I love that "Merlot to go!"

Michele said...

The first time we went to Mannino's we were actually on our way to the Street Cook. It's been one of my favorites ever since. It was one of my first online reviews.

Laine and Alex said...

How funny that you were headed to St. Cook too:) I read your review as well. It's all good.

Anonymous said...

Actually, every restaurant I've ever worked in in Va. Beach was able to cork your wine up for you so you could take it home. It isn't a big deal at all :)

Laine and Alex said...

Good to know:) I guess they are all keeping it very very quiet...