It was a Saturday evening, and my parents and brother had just helped me move into my house. Tired and hungry, we roamed a few streets in Ann Arbor in search of a dinner location. At the suggestion of my cousin who lives in Ann Arbor, we decided to stop at Mani Osteria.
Upon entering the restaurant, the fragrant aroma of roasted garlic and mouth-watering flatbread pizzas assaulted our noses. It was a bustling atmosphere, with people sitting at the bar, and at the high and low tables available as alternate options. Given that it was almost 8pm on a Saturday night, and that the place was packed, I was mildy surprised that the wait was only 20 minutes.
We ordered a bottle of wine to enjoy as we perused the menu and waited for our food to arrive. It was a 2009 Malbec from Cahors, France. For starters, we ordered “the mix,” a mixed platter of cheeses, cured meats, and olives. The cheeses were absolutely fantastic; creamy and buttery, they paired fantastically well with the Jamon Serrano from Spain and Prosciutto from Italy. My only issue with this platter was the limited and extremely thin slices of bread that accompanied the platter. Sure, the thinner slices drizzled with olive oil were classy, but I love bread, especially nice chunks of a crisp grain or French bread.
For dinner, we ordered four different entrées that we shared:
Arugula and Proscuitto Flatbread Pizza
“scamorza, ligurian olive oil, sea salt”
Whole Roasted Branzino
“fennel, olive, salsa verde”
D&L’s Roasted Chicken
“cipolini onions, artichokes, oyster mushrooms”
The Whole Roasted Branzino made its way to the table first. Funny side note on branzino…when I saw the item on the menu, I immediately knew it was fish, thanks to Spider-Man. If you saw the new Spidey movie that came out in August, you know that Gwen (Emma Stone) invites Peter (Andrew Garfield) to dinner for Branzino. We see a scene with him seated at the dinner table, a plate of branzino — bones, head, and all–before him. He pokes at it sheepishly, trying to figure out the best way to eat the fish. Our branzino did indeed arrive with a head and tail, but we were able to quickly dig in and enjoy every morsel. It was deliciously flavorful, with hints of lemon and herbs in every bite. Roasted red onions and fennel accompanied the dish, adding a nice pop of color.
The Arugula and Proscuitto Flatbread Pizza arrived as we were finishing our the Branzino. Warm and crisp, the flatbread was generously covered in proscuitto, and topped with a heaping portion of arugula. The pizza was on the salty side, but what do you expect from a flatbread covered in cured ham? Yummy!
Malfatti en Brodo featured a thin wide pasta noodle (think of small squares of thin lasagna noodles) with shredded pork, and arugula. The sauce, which tasted like stock with hints of citrus, was surprisingly light for a pasta dish.
D&L’s Roasted Chicken was tender and falling off the bone. It was wonderfully juicy and tender, with succulent mushrooms and onions that had absorbed all the chicken flavor. The artichokes tasted slightly undercooked; they were a little tougher than I expect artichokes to be.
Overall, the four dishes were delicious! My favorite was the branzino, but all the dishes had something to rave about. If you’re around East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, I highly suggest that you stop by this great restaurant!