To run his new kitchen, he initially recruited Roger Llames, who worked at BLT Prime in New York and with Todd Gray in Washington, D.C. Yet less than two months after opening, Llames is out and Claudio Sandri, who worked for Mancini at his first restaurant, has returned.

Mancini boasted about his chefs' records, saying Sandri once worked for Washington, D.C., toque Roberto Donna and that the two bested Masaharu Morimoto on an episode of Iron Chef. But Mancini — who described himself as a frustrated home chef — noted he has always taken a lead role in developing the menu.

"Whatever chef has been there, I've been very involved with the menu planning and choices, what purveyors we use," he said, "but I give flexibility to the chef."

Wood-oven-roasted veal chop
Wood-oven-roasted veal chop

Location Info

Map

Mancini's

1017 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Mancini's Modern Italian

754-200-8602
Open Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 5 to 11 p.m.

Red snapper crudo $13
Mussels $12
Beet salad $12
Agnolotti with lamb $24
Papardelle with rabbit sugo $21
Veal chop $41
Tiramisu $9

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While on trips to San Francisco and New York, Mancini saw crudo as an emerging dish and wanted to integrate the Italian version of sashimi into his latest project. So, six choices made it to the menu: One features thinly sliced salmon with hardboiled egg, capers, and a pomegranate mostarda, while another offers slivers of lobster with baby arugula dressed with lemon olive oil.

Although the impetus to experiment is admirable, a red snapper crudo ($13) disappointed because of a weird combination of ingredients. A too-thick pesto had a tinny flavor, and "marinated citrus segments" — i.e., grapefruit — were so bitter that we could only pucker. We pushed the thin slices of out-of-place celery aside and just tried to enjoy the translucent slices of sweet fish.

The restaurant fared better with a classic appetizer: two dozen sweet, meaty mussels ($12). There was no broth at the bottom of the bowl or crusts of bread to sop it up, but no matter. The simple preparation, with garlic, olive oil, white wine, and butter, perfectly complemented each briny bite.

The menu also boasts a well-rounded list of pasta dishes, all more than $20 but only some made in-house from scratch. Lasagna is there, as are some more creative attempts.

Several ribbons of thin, inch-wide papardelle ($26) came with pulled rabbit that was advertised as sugo — an ambiguous word for a coarse, tomato-based gravy or something that's simply poured over — but there was little sauce on the plate. A white, earthy truffle foam sat across the top and paired well with the rabbit meat. Without it, however, the rabbit meat was underseasoned and gamey.

About a dozen agnolottis ($24) — rustic pasta purses filled with sweet cubes of roasted butternut squash — were fanned around a small pile of garlicky sautéed spinach topped with stringy pulled lamb meat. A roasted beet salad ($12) arrived with deep-crimson cubes of the sweet tuber with the perfect toothsome texture. Crumbled goat cheese provided a tang-and-salt foil for the beet's sweetness, and candied walnuts with a hint of cinnamon rounded out each bite.

Amid these classy dishes, what Mancini seemed most excited about was having a wood-fired brick oven for making authentic Neapolitan pies. It sat to the rear of the restaurant, wrapped in the same blue mosaic tile as the kitchen, with narrow strips of gray slate arranged around its mouth. Staff, though, may need a little more experience with this new toy: The crust of an individual-sized Salsicca pizza ($12) was overcooked, dry, and in some cases made up half of the slice. The crumbled house-made sausage topping was far too salty.

Evolution is a good thing, and it's nice to see Mancini being ambitious. But the high prices leave little room for mistakes. A thick-cut veal chop cost $41. At rates like that, small quibbles can turn into justified complaints. The chop's Parmesan-rosemary crust was soggy, and the saffron risotto tasted like undercooked arborio rice in a cheese sauce — even though the meat itself was juicy and rich, cooked to the requested medium rare.

Jack Mancini has a proven track record as a restaurateur and commendable aspirations for both himself and the elevation of dining on Las Olas. He seems to know that Italian food is all about simple preparations that let quality ingredients shine but can't resist a little experimentation with truffles and foams and crudos. Somewhere in between a basic lasagna and a fried pig ear, there's got to be a sweet spot. Here's hoping he nails it.

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8 comments
frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

went there yesterday.................it's not even ON las olas.........two spanish guys at the wood-buring oven and a freckled faced kid behind the kitchen counter.....................women hanging outside at the window bar looked to be taking a break from their office cleaning jobs........................three patrons inside the open-air style room at empty tables..............no wonder the NT article had the owner drinking all the time

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

and on balance the real problem with LAS OLAS restaurants is women do not demand to be wined and dined anymore in order to be amenable to sex

what i would do as a restauranteur is offer women compensation for suckering guys in to have dinner as a pre-requisite to romance

let the women run up a tab and have the guy pay for it in exchange for partying at YOLO

this way NO ONE would really care how BAD the FOOD is OR how expensive it is EITHER

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

now you got me started.................with VEAL CHOP.................we flew in from NY to FULVIOs back in the late-70's early 80s and i never had anything else except for VEAL CHOP = period.......................and i didn't even care about the scam on the credit card charge.....................but i did have to put my emotions in check like when the dodgers moved out of brooklyn..........fulvio went to hollywood, and that as they say was that....................i did find my friend and waiter again from those dayz...........don't mess with VEAL CHOP

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

why are the 11 photos of other than the tirimisu the same caption as the tirimisu photo ?

why not caption the photo of the VEAL CHOP with the soggy crust or that the risotto pictured tasted like common rice ? why not add the price ?

or why not caption the FISH as "bitter" from citrus ingredients ? again why not add the price ?

why not caption ALL the photos appropriately with what's in the picture shown ?

anyone who is dumb enough to be sold on pictures without a description of the flavors or ingredients or the chef deserves to get ripped off = but why must it always be an ITALIAN themed restaurant that screws the customers ? being italian myself i find this very very offensive indeed !

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

what's the point if the FOOD is expensive YET not worth it ?

i read ZACHARY FAGENSONs article whereas the FISH "disappointed because of a wierd combination of ingredients" the MUSSELS "no broth or bread to sop it up with" and PASTA dishes "over $20" but not homemade (so from where ? SYSCO ?), the RABBIT was"underseasoned and gamey", the wood-fired oven, apparently a new feature on las olas but in use elsewhere for many years now, yielded "overcooked, dry" results with the sausage topping "was far too salty" and the piece-de-resistance the $52 veal chop (including tax and tip) "the chop's parmesean rosemary crust was soggy and the saffron risotto tasted like undercooked rice in a cheese sauce"..........whheeww, i would have walked out at the FISH being "bitter"

long story short; just yet another LAS OLAS screw job appealing only to a scott rothstein type

GaryJ
GaryJ

I see why you're looking for new writers. If you know anything about Mancini, you understand how silly this review is.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

having personally dealt with mrs williamson at churchills and lately chased manero nee maniero from his "special" burger BS and lemoncello with devito and seeing le tubs meats come from sysco afterall and knowing the people involved with some dozen or so eateries over more than two decades myself, i would guess at the story of mancini is a good one

but why do they have to pick ITALIAN food to screw around with ?

robert
robert

This guy is more gullible than McCart

 
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